While many of our teens first discover CRYP as 4- to 12-year-olds attending our youth programs at The Main, some arrive a bit later — drawn by dedicated teen programs at Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life). Deja Roberts falls into the latter group.

Deja grew up in our hometown of Eagle Butte, South Dakota, and she first came to us as an eighth grader. She says she was interested in Passion for Fashion and the Harvest Festival, both popular annual events at the CRYP campus.

“They were fun and socially involving,” Deja explains. “They’re probably my favorite activities.”

Deja, now 14, also is a regular teen intern at Cokata Wiconi. She has completed internship tracks in Native Wellness, Indigenous Cooking, and Art.

“I really liked the Indigenous Cooking Internship, because I wanted to learn more about my Lakota culture and traditional foods,” she says. “With all of them, I’ve enjoyed the chance to make new friends, and the First Aid and CPR trainings have been really beneficial to me.”

While she didn’t particularly like the public speaking lessons, Deja says she is grateful for all the skills she’s gaining through the teen internships, and through CRYP’s programming in general.

“I feel it’s a good way to get kids to learn more about their culture, and to get involved in their community,” she says. “I love that people are getting more involved with Lakota culture around here. It’s rising up.”

When she’s not spending time at Cokata Wiconi, Deja enjoys acrylic painting, baking, and playing card games. She’s also planning her future.

“My future plans involve traveling the world, and going to nursing school in Colorado,” she says. “I’ll see where that goes.”