In conjunction with releasing its 2017 RedCan mini-documentary (see it now on YouTube!), CRYP also has just announced the dates for its 2018 RedCan graffiti jam. The fourth annual event will take place on June 27-July 1, 2018, with painting scheduled at various sites in CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park and around the city of Eagle Butte.

The nine-minute mini-documentary is an excellent way to become acquainted with CRYP, RedCan, this year’s featured artists and the Cheyenne River community. It also provides an opportunity to meet some of Cheyenne River’s young people, for whom CRYP created dedicated arts programming in 2014 — and the RedCan event a year later.

“We knew, going in, that graffiti and street art would resonate with our youth here,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We didn’t realize how intensely art would strengthen the connection our kids have with their Lakota culture, nor did we fully anticipate the healing effect of giving these young people new tools for exploring their identities, finding their own voices, building self-confidence, and sharing their stories.

“We’ve seen first-hand that art does save lives,” she added. “It’s incredibly powerful.”

Since 2014, the nonprofit youth organization has delved deeply into community-based arts initiatives. In just three years, it has opened the free, public Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park, launched RedCan, developed an innovative teen arts internship program, and built a tightly knit network of local and nationwide guest artists.

Throughout the year, CRYP continues to host a series of art classes, workshops and seminars through its fledgling Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Arts Institute. The institute’s offerings expose Cheyenne River’s young people different artistic movements and mediums, and give them the opportunity to try their hand at everything from drawing, graffiti lettering and spray-paint murals to traditional Lakota beading, hide-tanning and making ribbon skirts.

“There is no Lakota word for art,” said Tammy Granados, CRYP’s youth programs director. “Art is life.”

She and Garreau both observed that the arts programs are more than just programs, for staff members and kids alike.

“We’re remembering,” Garreau said. “We’re remembering where we come from. We’re remembering our roots, we’re remembering our ancestors. We’re changing the trajectory of some of our children’s lives, and we’re finding power through art.”

The 2017 RedCan mini-documentary is available to the public on the youth project’s YouTube channel and through its Facebook community. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@waniyetuwowapi).

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.