This week, the Bush Foundation announced the names of the 24 individuals who will comprise this year’s class of Bush Fellows. The Cheyenne River Youth Project® is proud to announce that its executive director, Julie Garreau, is among their number.
Each year, the Bush Foundation seeks Fellowship candidates who have proven records of achievement — and who demonstrate the extraordinary potential to make significant, lasting contributions in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that call those regions home. A total of 465 people applied for the 2016 Bush Fellowship, and the final 24 Fellows were selected through an intensive, multi-stage process during which applicants described their leadership vision and passion, and how a Bush Fellowship would help them achieve their goals.
“I am truly humbled to be recognized with such an esteemed group of professionals,” Garreau said. “This award is a recognition of the truly outstanding work that occurs each and every day at the Cheyenne River Youth Project, and I feel privileged to have been part of this dynamic vision. As a Bush Fellow, I am committed to expanding and creating opportunities to reach more youth and families on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation. I wish to thank all of the staff, youth, families, volunteers and friends of CRYP for their support.”
Garreau’s leadership vision is firmly rooted in the Lakota community she calls home. A Mnicoujou woman who was born and raised on the Cheyenne River reservation, Garreau has been the driving force behind CRYP since its founding. Bringing together a powerful coalition of partners, staff members and volunteers, she has developed the grassroots, nonprofit youth organization from a fledgling experiment into one of the nation’s most successful Native youth development programs.
The next step, according to Garreau, is to ensure CRYP’s sustainability and future success by mentoring emerging Lakota leaders who can succeed her.
“As a staff, we suffer from the same disconnect that so deeply affects our young people,” she explained. “Historical trauma and assimilationist policies have removed generations of Lakota people from their traditional values, beliefs and practices. To effectively mentor our youth, to foster true holistic wellness, and to provide access to a more vibrant and secure future, we as Lakota leaders need to reconnect them with their heritage and identity — through culturally relevant programming, yes, but also through our own words and actions as role models.”
To that end, Garreau will use her Bush Fellowship to study traditional Lakota teachings as well as effective Western leadership models, leveraging both to foster the next generation of leaders.
“This is incredibly important, and not only to our organization and to the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation,” she said. “What we’re doing on Cheyenne River can be replicated in other communities, tailored to their own unique identities and needs. We’ve always dreamed big at CRYP, and as we reach our third decade of service, we hope to set a powerful example for what can be achieved anywhere when a community pulls together to lift itself up.”
As CRYP’s executive director for many years, Garreau’s work has garnered national acclaim. Not only is she the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Presidential Points of Light Award, presented by George H.W. Bush, the Seventh Generation Fund for Indigenous Peoples’ Fire Keepers Award and the Spirit of Dakota Award, the South Dakota Coalition for Children has proclaimed CRYP a “Champion for Children.” Garreau was named to an honor roll that recognized its 16 members’ outstanding dedication to the state’s youth. Her name appears on the National Museum of the American Indian’s Honor Wall in Washington D.C.
And now, Garreau is a 2016 Bush Fellow. The Bush Fellowship counts among its alumni former Minnesota Governor Arne Carlson, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson, and President Obama’s Special Assistant for Native American Affairs Karen Diver.
She embarks on her two-year Bush Fellowship journey in June.
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The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.