When CRYP started its Teen Internship Program, the youth project’s staff was dedicated to providing the Cheyenne River community’s youth with the opportunities and resources they would need to be workforce-ready. Ten years later, not only has the program graduated approximately 2,000 interns, some of them are now employed at CRYP itself.

One of those former interns is Braylee Dog Eagle, 17 (pictured here, center, with the CRYP Youth Advisory Council). Braylee first came to the youth project as a 12-year-old, eager to enter the internship program as soon as he turned 13. Today, he is working as a programs assistant trainee.

“I wanted to work in the garden and make some money,” Braylee remembers of his arrival at CRYP five years ago. “The internships — and the haunted house CRYP used to do — were the most fun. They’re great memories.” 

Braylee says he worked hard as an intern, but he definitely had to step it up as a programs assistant trainee.

“It’s a big responsibility,” he says. “But I like it, because I have an actual job. I get paid to work hard, and I get to hang out with Nation and Wambli (fellow trainees Nation Cowins and Wambli Gleska Quintana) every day. 

“Wambli has helped me become more open, more social, even more happy,” he continues. “Nation is really funny; he makes me laugh. I really like seeing others stepping up and becoming leaders.” 

This past winter, Braylee joined Nation, Wambli, Natalie Marshall and Sheridan Miner on Tȟeča Hótȟaŋiŋpi (Youth Make Their Voices Heard), CRYP’s first-ever youth advisory council. The group participated in a youth-leadership trip to Washington, D.C. in February. 

Since then, they have been busy advising CRYP staff on programming initiatives, helping to plant the Winyan Toka Win Garden and prep for the 9th annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam, organizing fundraisers and special events, and taking advantage of every possible opportunity to learn. Braylee says he is particularly grateful for trainings in public speaking.

“I never really did that before, except in class,” he reflects.

When he is not working at CRYP or serving on the youth advisory council, Braylee is an involved student at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School, where he is a member of the National Honor Society, plays football, and recently was chosen for the “Close Up” program. A member of the Class of 2024, he will be a senior this year.

Braylee also is a champion archer. Every year, he competes at a variety of tournaments across the state; he has advanced to nationals every year since the 4th grade, and he has competed at the world-championship level twice. 

In his interview for the CRYP youth advisory council, Braylee shared his hopes for the future. He says he wants to push himself to grow mentally and physically, and he wants to see his community grow in positive ways. He would like to help fix the C-EB track and field, because he recognizes that his peers have so much athletic potential. He cares deeply about cleaning up the community — and helping those who are experiencing homelessness.

The staff at his school recommended him for the youth advisory council position, noting that he takes the initiative to make things better, such as cleaning up trash in the bleachers without being asked to do so.

At CRYP, the entire team believes that Braylee will be a great leader. When he speaks, his peers listen, and he has a sense of humor that brings people together.

Braylee says his greatest role models are his mom, his sister, and Wakinyan Chief, CRYP’s art manager.