National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $25 million in grants as part of the NEA’s first major funding announcement for this fiscal year, and included in this announcement is a Challenge America grant of $10,000 to the Cheyenne River Youth Project. The funding will support CRYP’s 2018 RedCan invitational graffiti jam, scheduled for June 28-30 in Eagle Butte, South Dakota.

The Challenge America category features NEA support for projects that extend the reach of the arts to underserved populations—those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. According to Chu, RedCan does exactly that.

“It is energizing to see the impact that the arts are making throughout the United States. These NEA-supported projects, such as CRYP’s RedCan event, are good examples of how the arts build stronger and more vibrant communities, improve well-being, prepare our children to succeed, and increase the quality of our lives,” Chu said. “At the National Endowment for the Arts, we believe that all people should have access to the joy, opportunities and connections the arts bring.”

CRYP created its unique, ground-breaking invitational graffiti jam three years ago so Lakota culture and graffiti culture could come together in unexpected and inspiring ways. According to Executive Director Julie Garreau, RedCan has resonated deeply with everyone it touches, from youth and community members to the artists themselves.

“Many of our invited artists have told us that they were profoundly moved by the experience of creating art on the Cheyenne River Lakota reservation,” she said. “When they come to RedCan, they teach our young people, collaborate with our local artists and engage with our community members. They participate in what is essentially a cultural exchange. And together, through art, we lift up our Lakota Nation.”

Graffiti jams were designed to introduce graffiti as an art form, bringing together people who exemplify the contemporary graffiti art movement and how it has evolved since its inception a half century ago. When they attend jams, artists seek to establish themselves within this global movement. RedCan, however, is different.

“As one of our lead artists said to me, it’s a collaborative effort rather than a selfish one,” Garreau explained. “Not only are they showcasing the graffiti art movement, they’re connecting that world with our indigenous one, allowing Lakota artists to infuse graffiti with their own culture, identities and stories.

“As Lakota people, we have always been storytellers,” she continued. “For us, art is life. Through RedCan, our young people can strengthen their connection to Lakota culture and values as they also explore their identities, find their own unique voices, and express themselves in a positive, healthy way. It’s an inspiring and transformative experience.”

For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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.