It’s a new year, and for the Cheyenne River Youth Project, that means it’s time to welcome the winter cohort of teen interns. In February, Cheyenne River youth will begin five-week-long internship programs in Native Wellness, Indigenous Foods & Cooking, and Art.

Due to the ongoing Covid pandemic, CRYP will be conducting these internships virtually, with participants engaging with instructors, workshops, and material through Zoom. The Native Wellness internship is scheduled for Feb. 10 to Mar. 10, Indigenous Foods & Cooking for Feb. 8 to Mar. 15, and Art for Feb. 10 to Mar. 10.

“We’re deeply grateful to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s Tribal Equitable Compensation Act program (or TECA, which means “new beginning” in Lakota), the Northwest Area Foundation, the N7 Fund, and Square,” said Dawn E. LeBeau, CRYP’s deputy director. “It’s so important for us to be able to connect and engage with our young people, offering the many opportunities they so richly deserve. We couldn’t do it without the support of these partners who share our commitment to Native youth.”

Youth Programs Assistant Khalid Garreau will lead the Native Wellness internship. His focus will be educating Cheyenne River’s youth about nurturing healthy bodies, minds, and spirits through physical fitness, good nutrition, diabetes prevention, and Lakota values and life ways.

“These internships are a critical part of our holistic wellness initiatives,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s youth programs director. “The kids will keep a daily journal to record the new information they’re learning, the activities they’re participating in, and even the food they’re eating. It’s all about learning to make healthy, positive choices.”

Youth Programs Assistant Wendell Nezzie Jr. will lead the Indigenous Foods & Cooking internship, with support from guest instructor Inyan Eagle Elk. This accomplished chef has worked with CRYP youth in the past.

In the IFC internship, youth will learn the history of traditional Lakota foods, their relationships to traditional Lakota medicines and ceremonies, and their contemporary uses. The interns also will learn how to make foods such as ceyaka and flat cedar tea, chokecherry juice and patties, wojapi, wasna, ba’pa soup, squash flour, and more. 

“In this track, as well, the teens will document their experiences in their journals,” Widow said. “That gives them the opportunity to dig a little deeper and reflect on the connections they feel with their Lakota culture and with their ancestors, who worked so hard to provide for their families without modern conveniences.”

Finally, Youth Programs Assistant Leo Benator will lead the Art internship, with support from guest instructors Martin Guerrero and Kelsie Haskell. Guerrero, an e-commerce specialist who works with San Francisco Bay Area-based Square, will teach a business class; Haskell, a Cheyenne River Sioux tribal member, will focus on Native entrepreneurship.

The Art internships are an important part of CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute. They allow teens to explore graffiti and street art, fine art, and traditional Lakota arts; during the internship track, participants also will learn about advanced arts education, professional development, and career opportunities. 

All teen interns in CRYP’s five internship tracks — Art, Indigenous Foods & Cooking, Native Wellness, Native Food Sovereignty, and Social Enterprise — also receive a series of trainings designed to enhance both job and life skills. These include customer service, First Aid and CPR, financial literacy, food handling, healthy communication, leadership, and more.

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.