On Thursday, Aug. 17, the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s summer interns had an opportunity to visit sacred Mato Paha (Bear Butte) in western South Dakota. Art Manager Wakinyan Chief and Programs Assistant Maggie Bad Warrior led the trip, which departed and returned to the CRYP campus in Eagle Butte the same day.

On the hike to the summit, the CRYP team taught the teens about the importance of Mato Paha — and Mato Tipila (Devils Tower) in Wyoming — in Lakota creation stories. They also talked with them about the Hanblechiya ceremony (Crying for a Vision/Dream), and about the significance of prayer ties and flags.

In addition, the group identified many traditional edible and medicinal plants, including chokecherries, wild plums, wild grapes, raspberries, wax currants, rose hips, wastemna (sweet leaf/wild bergamot), peji hota (grey/white sage), yucca, yarrow, mullein, goldenrod and prairie sagewort (female sage). They also got a wonderful view from the summit before making their descent and returning to the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.

Through field trips like this, CRYP is providing young people with access to the Lakota Nation’s sacred sites, as well as providing important resources and opportunities for living wólakhota, in keeping with traditional Lakota life ways. As youth strengthen the connection they have with the land and their culture, they become the nation’s next generation of leaders and culture bearers.

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.