October is Lakol Wichohan Wi, or the Month of Lakota Traditions and Culture, at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte. To commemorate the monthly theme, as well as Native American Day on Oct. 9, the nonprofit youth organization has hosted a variety of classes in traditional Lakota arts, culture, tradition and spirituality.

At The Main youth center, children ages 4-12 learned to make miniature drums, ribbon skirts, and shields with deer or elk hides. Meanwhile, the teens at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center took a traditional art class with Molina Parker and Wade Patton, both First Peoples Fund Fellows, and attended an “Awakening our Spirituality” youth conference on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 20-21.

“We joined together with Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe MSPI, SAMHSA and Suicide Prevention to host this two-day conference, which included presentations, a DJ dance and a talent competition,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We’re happy to report that more than 300 young people participated in this important event.”

Meanwhile, new cohorts embarked on the youth project’s wellness and sustainable agriculture internships. The wellness interns are working toward a special field trip to Bear Butte, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 28. Called Mato Paha in Lakota, the 4,426-foot geological formation has tremendous cultural and spiritual significance for the Lakota Nation and other native tribes. The teen interns need to log 10 walking and/or running miles to participate in the trip, which will include a hike to the summit.

According to Garreau, Lakol Wichohan Wi is the perfect name for the month of October.

“Since 1990, we have observed Native American Day here in South Dakota, rather than Columbus Day,” she noted. “So we thought this would be the perfect month to focus our youth arts programming on traditional Lakota arts, culture, traditions and spirituality.”

Just around the corner is November, or Wopila Keniciapi Wi, the Month of Giving Thanks. Garreau said the youth programming team has quite a few exciting activities on deck, from art classes and intergenerational events, to a field trip for the sustainable agriculture interns and the annual Thanks for Kids Dinner, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 17.

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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.