This month, we would like to highlight a very special partner that has joined with us many times as we seek to lift up our community from within. Bozeman, Montana-based Hopa Mountain is a not-for-profit organization that invests in rural and tribal citizen leaders, adults and youth, who are working to improve education, ecological health and economic development within their communities.

Hopa Mountain offers a seven principal leadership training programs throughout the year. They are: Hopa Mountain StoryMakers, Youth Leadership Programs, Indigenous and Latino Scholars of Promise, Native Science Fellowships, Strengthening the Circle – Native Nonprofit Leadership Programs, Citizen Leader Workshops and Nonprofit Leadership Training/Affiliate Programs.

“Through the years, Hopa Mountain has been a steadfast supporter of what we’re doing here on Cheyenne River,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “I graduated from its native nonprofit leadership program, and these days, I help with the leadership workshops. Hopa Mountain has brought me, and CRYP, so far.”

Hopa Mountain has partnered with CRYP several times through Strengthening the Circle. It also has provided critical coaching for staff and board members, and this past spring, CRYP hosted its Youth Programs Conference at the Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) teen center (see photo).

“CRYP is a grassroots, native-led organization that has not only sustained itself for more than a quarter century, it continues to grow and pursue its long-term vision and mission in the Cheyenne River Lakota community,” said Bonnie Sachatello-Sawyer, Hopa Mountain’s executive director. “Over the years, CRYP has developed a unique, holistic approach to youth programming, and it has earned a reputation for being the gold standard for youth development in Indian country. They’re very creative in how they reach kids. The programming is interesting — even edgy, when you consider the public Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park and the art internship program for teens. They pull out all the stops, even when resources are limited.

“It’s good for other organizations to see what’s happening here, because the range of what they’re doing is so impressive,” she added. “And, it can be replicated in other communities.”

“Bonnie has brought CRYP through some amazing transitions, and she has personally mentored and strengthened me,” Garreau said. “She’s my hero. She’s inspiring, and she’s so supportive; she’s the nonprofit mom for so many of us in Indian country. Bonnie has contributed to the future of CRYP with everything she has done, big and small. We want CRYP to thrive and to be here for generations to come, and she is helping us do that.

“Hopa Mountain is an incredible organization,” she added, “and I’m so glad we found each other.”

Hopa Mountain focuses its efforts in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains, including Montana, Wyoming, western North Dakota, and western South Dakota. It was founded on the conviction that hope is the fundamental prerequisite for positive change. The possibilities for sustained community improvements lie in the strength, innate wisdom and creativity of local people — in their relationships with each other and the land. They know their communities’ needs. To learn more, visit