In partnership with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Indian Child Welfare program, CRYP hosted a Masquerade Ball & Community Dinner at Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) on Friday, Feb. 22. The evening event, which was open to children of all ages as well as adults, drew nearly 100 members of the Eagle Butte community.

Guests were able to play a variety of games for prizes in the Cokata Wiconi gymnasium, including fish pond and cake walk, and decorate their own masquerade masks. Then, following a traditional Lakota blessing, they enjoyed a community meal of sloppy Joes, hot dogs, salad, chips and cake.

According to CRYP staff, this family-friendly event was a special occasion for younger children to dress up in formal or semiformal attire, enjoy an evening out with family members and friends, make valuable memories, and experience the Cokata Wiconi facilities, where they will transition for youth programming once they turn 13.

“Events like this give our 4- to 12-year-olds a taste of our teen programs—and what Passion for Fashion is all about,” says Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “They can explore and experiment with their own unique styles, champion positive self-esteem and healthy body image, invest in new friendships, and also make memories with the older generations who are there to support them. We’re very much hoping to make this an annual celebration, just like Passion for Fashion.”

For the Masquerade Ball attendees, the evening provided young people with what CRYP is famous for: new opportunities to learn, grow and simply have fun, while also embracing Lakota values and strengthening the bonds within their community and their own families.

“Thank you guys for everything you do for our community—it means a lot,” wrote a young party-goer named Zianne in a colorful thank-you note. “I used to come here (because it is) a place to have fun and be safe. You guys have helped me a lot, and still continue to. Keep up the great work! Love you all.”

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.

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