The Cheyenne River Youth Project announced today that it will host “Six Days of Earth Day” on Apr. 17-22. The event will incorporate a variety of youth activities at its Čhokáta Wičhóni (Center of Life) teen center and “The Main” youth center, a trash pickup, and a hiking trip in the sacred Black Hills.
“Not only do we want to raise awareness about environmental issues, we want to teach our children how to care for the earth through the choices they make every day,” said Jerica Widow, CRYP’s programs manager. “For Lakota people, that is an important part of being a good relative and living Wólakhota, in keeping with our sacred way of life.”
On Monday, Apr. 17, youth will learn to make beeswax wraps, which they can use as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap. They will engage in hands-on activities that allow them to learn about Earth’s atmosphere, and they collect their gently used clothes for a donation at local thrift store Bear Necessities.
On Tuesday, participants will learn how to make eco-friendly laundry detergent and laundry scent booster. The next day, they will make eco-friendly toothpaste and dry shampoo, as well as herb window gardens.
“On Thursday, we’ll make eco-friendly all-purpose cleaner,” Widow said. “They also will enjoy making and eating Green Pizza — veggie pizza with green-colored dough.”
On Friday, CRYP will host a trash pickup event. Afterward, the kids will make and deploy “flower bombs,” dispersing a variety of wildflower seeds outdoors.
Finally, on Saturday, CRYP will take youth participants to the Black Hills for a hike to the 7,244-foot summit of Black Elk Peak. This mountain is also known as Hiŋháŋ Káǧa (Owl Maker) and Heȟáka Sápa (Black Elk) among Lakota people.
“We’re looking forward to commemorating Earth Day at Black Elk Peak,” Widow said. “It’s the right place to celebrate our connection with Unčí Makhá (Mother Earth) and all our relatives, all living things.”
Lakota medicine man Black Elk (1863-1950) received his great vision on this mountain at the age of 9. He returned many years later with writer John Neihardt, who later shared Black Elk’s wisdom in his 1932 book “Black Elk Speaks.”
“While I stood there, I saw more than I can tell and I understood more than I saw,” Black Elk recounted in the book. “For I was seeing in a sacred manner the shapes of all things in the spirit, and the same of all shapes as they must live together like one being.”
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.