The first-ever Lakota Food Summit is taking place later this month in Rapid City, South Dakota, and the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s winter cohort of indigenous cooking interns are getting ready to shine. The teens are preparing their own recipes to share at the summit, scheduled for Feb. 18-20 at the Holiday Inn-Rushmore Plaza.

The Lakota Food Summit’s speakers will focus on food sovereignty, traditional foods, gardening, nutrition, food processing, and much more. It also will feature a chef cook-off presented by Sean Sherman, the celebrated Sioux Chef; two drum groups and a hoop-dancing performance; tipis; traditional hand games; and youth posters from the local community. 

In addition, the summit will provide a valuable opportunity for Lakota youth to showcase their own dedication and creativity. According to Anthony Potter, youth programs assistant for CRYP, the winter interns are already hard at work on their chosen recipes.

“We’re making sunflower cookies with a wojapi drizzle and chokecherry garnish, along with cold cedar tea,” said Potter, who is guiding the teens through their internship track. “The kids were excited to dig into our traditional Lakota foods and then get creative with their own contemporary spin. They’re also looking forward to showing everyone what native food sovereignty really means to them.”

For more than 30 years, CRYP has been dedicated to strengthening the connection Lakota youth have with their culture. In recent years, culturally relevant programming at the nonprofit youth organization has expanded to include this indigenous cooking internship for local teens. In this internship track, teens learn the history of various foods, their relationships to traditional Lakota medicines and ceremonies, and their contemporary uses. 

“They also get plenty of hands-on kitchen time, learning to make ceyaka tea, flat cedar tea, chokecherry juice and patties, wojapi, dried buffalo meat, asna, ba’pa soup, squash flour and more,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “They also track their experiences in journals, which gives them the opportunity to dig a little deeper and reflect on the connections they feel with traditional Lakota life ways, and with their ancestors, who worked so hard to provide for their families without modern conveniences. At the end of the internship, they creat their own spirit dishes and smudge kits. That always means a lot to them—and to us.”

For more information about the Lakota Food Summit, which is made possible with support from Partnership With Native Americans, and to register for the event, visit

To stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@lakotayouth and @waniyetuwowapi).

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.