The Cheyenne River Youth Project confirmed today that it will officially break ground for its new youth arts center at 12 p.m. on Friday, July 9. The public is welcome to attend the special groundbreaking event, which will take place during the nonprofit organization’s 7th annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam. (Artistic rendering courtesy of Pyatt Studio, Boulder, Colorado.)

This innovative facility, which will be home to CRYP’s acclaimed Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute, is made possible through a $2.5 million grant from #StartSmall, Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative. Dorsey is CEO and chairman of Square, CEO of Twitter, and cofounder of both. He first became acquainted with CRYP in 2017, when Square commissioned the short film “Lakota in America,” and he traveled to Eagle Butte for the film’s premiere that fall.

“Words cannot express how grateful we are to Jack Dorsey and #StartSmall for their support of the work we’re doing here on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation,” said Executive Director Julie Garreau, a Cheyenne River Lakota tribal member who founded CRYP nearly 33 years ago. “Generous funding like this doesn’t often come into Indian Country without restrictions; it means the world to us that #StartSmall has this faith and trust in our team.

“This is a truly transformational moment in our history,” she continued. “It’s our next great leap forward. We cannot wait to give our young people their own dedicated facilities for traditional and contemporary art, music, performance art, and more.”

CRYP has offered arts instruction since its inception, and it expanded on those offerings with the opening of the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center in 2006. With the addition of its teen internship program and Lakota Art Fellowship in the last eight years, however, the youth project has long since outgrown Cokata Wiconi’s single art studio.

“We have a profound need for a full youth arts center here on Cheyenne River,” Garreau said. “Art is a fundamental part of who we are as Lakota people, and it’s a powerful tool for healing, reconciliation, health, and wellness. We’ve known for a few years that we would have to grow to be able to give our kids the opportunities they’re asking for and so richly deserve. 

This year, thanks to #StartSmall, we can take that next large and necessary step,” she adds. “We’re so excited to see this beautiful building come to life, and to watch our kids learn and grow through their own unique artistic journeys. This belongs to them.”

CRYP’s vision for the new youth arts center incorporates circular exhibition spaces, photography dark room, recording studio, screen-printing studio, pottery studio with kiln room, multipurpose space with doors opening to the outside, and individual artists’ studios. What’s more, it’s exterior walls will constantly be changing.

“We’re going to encourage our artists to share their work on these walls,” Garreau said. “As an arts center, this building should be alive with creative energy in every possible way.”

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 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.

#StartSmall is Jack Dorsey’s philanthropic initiative to fund global COVID-19 relief, girls health and education, and efforts towards Universal Basic Income. Dorsey transferred $1 billion (28% of his wealth) to #StartSmall in 2020.