The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced today that it has partnered with the REI Cooperative Action Fund to support youth programming through a donor challenge. That challenge seeks to raise $50,000 by Mar. 31.
The REI Cooperative Action Fund directly supports nonprofits creating more equitable and inclusive outdoor spaces and places for everyone. The Native-led, grassroots, nonprofit youth project in the heart of South Dakota’s Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is a perfect fit.
“Connecting with our land is fundamental to who we are as Lakota people,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We understand that this connection can be life-changing for our young people, so for nearly 35 years, we have engaged them with the outdoors, through recreation, sports, organic gardening, art, camping, field trips, and more recently, seasonal Lakota camps on the prairie.
“We’re humbled and honored that the REI Cooperative Action Fund wishes to support us in our mission, and we’re grateful for the $50,000 in grant funding that they have provided,” she continued. “That, plus the additional $50,000 we’re hoping to raise through this donor challenge, will allow us to provide our young people with the experiences they need and so richly deserve — not only to enjoy the outdoors with their mentors and peers and gain the wellness benefits that come from that, but also to strengthen the connection they have with their Lakota culture.”
Garreau and her programming team at CRYP are looking forward to more culturally relevant trips to sacred sites such as Wind Cave, Bear Butte and Bear Lodge (Devils Tower) — and significant sites closer to home, on the Cheyenne River reservation. They’re also excited about the upcoming series of 2023 Lakota camps. Winter Camp will take place later this month, with additional camps to follow in spring, summer and fall.
“The seasonal camps are vital next steps for us as an organization, and for our community as a whole,” Garreau explained. “These programs teach us how to detach from technology, be part of nature, and reclaim and protect our homelands. They also teach us how to be a community again, using our Lakota culture as the powerful foundation.”
During each camp experience, Lakota youth have opportunities to learn about the Great Plains ecosystem, plant identification, traditional Lakota star knowledge, the principle of Mni Wiconi (Water is Life), how to raise and disassemble tipis, in which they sleep at night. They also create art, write in journals, and engage in plenty of outdoor exercise and fun.
“Anyone who wishes to support the donor challenge can simply visit lakotayouth.org/give and make a contribution,” Garreau noted.
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
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.