EAGLE BUTTE — November is Wopila Keniciapi Wi, or the Month of Giving Thanks, at the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte. To commemorate the monthly theme, the nonprofit youth organization will be hosting its annual “Thanks for Kids” community dinner at Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) on Friday, Nov. 17 at 5-7 p.m.
Youth, their families and all members of the Cheyenne River community are invited to join CRYP staff and volunteers for a traditional holiday-inspired dinner. Featured dishes will incorporate produce from the youth project’s 2.5-acre, organic Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) Garden.
“We want our guests to know that these nourishing foods were grown right here on Cheyenne River, and our youth helped sow the seeds, care for the growing plants, and harvest the produce through our Garden Club for younger children and Sustainable Agriculture Internship for teens,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “It’s so important that we help our children strengthen their connection to the land and our Lakota values, appreciate healthy foods, learn about diabetes prevention, and pursue long-term wellness.”
Garreau also said that she and her team are very much looking forward to bringing friends and neighbors together for an evening of fellowship, great food, and expressing their gratitude to — and for — Cheyenne River’s children.
“We want our young people to know how much they mean to all of us,” she said simply. “They are our future leaders and culture bearers. They are the Lakota Nation.”
In addition, CRYP is continuing its robust youth arts programming schedule at Cokata Wiconi this month through its Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute. On Nov. 1-3, it hosted a professional artist training and a portfolio-making workshop with Unalee Howe. On Nov. 7, Dana Dupris will hold a smudging presentation and kit-making workshop at 5 p.m. Lynn Burnette will teach an art camp at 4-8 p.m. on Nov. 9, 12-6 p.m. on Nov. 10, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m on Nov. 11, and Louis and Gina Still Smoking will lead a wood blocking design workshop at 4-8 p.m. on Nov. 16-17 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 18.
“The spirit of gift-giving is behind all of our arts activities this month,” Garreau explained. “We’re encouraging the kids to make their own holiday presents for loved ones and friends this year.”
Throughout November, teens also may participate in CRYP’s popular Book2Movie Club, in which young people meet weekly to discuss a book they are reading, and then watch the film adaptation together. This month, the teens are exploring Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” series and watching the 2017 film of the same name; the club meets every Monday and Friday at 5-6 p.m.
“This month, as we reflect on the importance of our young people and express our gratitude for who they are, we’re also reflecting on our mission in this community,” Garreau said. “Since 1988, we have been dedicated to providing our youth with access to a more vibrant and secure future; in the nearly 30 years since then, we’ve learned that the best way to do that is to provide them with options that allow them to explore their identities and creativity, to express themselves in a positive and healthy way, and to find their own unique voices.”
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.