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CRYP Hall of Fame

July Hall of Fame: Jason White Horse

Cheyenne River’s young people immersed themselves in art during CRYP’s RedCan invitational graffiti jam this year. From the First Peoples’ Fund’s Rolling Rez Arts activities to the many ready-and-waiting walls in the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park, teens and littles alike expressed themselves creatively and energetically.

CRYP’s art interns were busy too. With the support of guest artists and instructors, they sketched their ideas and then hit the park, refining their color choices and styling, and practicing that elusive skill called can control. Jason White Horse was among them.

Sixteen-year-old Jason started painting roughly two years ago, and now he’s going through his second art internship in CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Arts Institute. According to Tammy Granados, youth programs director, the internship has been valuable for this polite, attentive teen on more than one level—as his artistic skills have grown, so have his life skills.

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June Hall of Fame: Jeremiah Dwayne Tiger

While the Cheyenne River Youth Project has provided programming and facilities for 13- to 18-year-olds since we opened our Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center in 2006, we’ve been serving our reservation’s 4- to 12-year-olds since the very beginning. They eagerly came through the doors of The Main youth center when we first opened in 1988, and they’ve kept coming for nearly 30 years.

“Our young kids will always find us,” says Julie Garreau, our executive director. “That’s why we have to be here for them. They depend on us.”

It doesn’t take much to bring these children through the door. In the case of then 6-year-old Jeremiah Dwayne Tiger, it only took a sign that read, “The Main is open.” Three years later, Jeremiah, now 9 and about to enter the fourth grade at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Elementary School, is still coming to The Main regularly.

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May Hall of Fame: Sunni Dupris

At the Cheyenne River Youth Project, we’ve worked hard over the years to develop a programming mix that allows us to reach as many young people as we can, and then develop deeper, more meaningful relationships with particular individuals over time. For example, we created Midnight Basketball in 1996 so area teens would have a safe place to play ball and hang out with friends on Friday nights—some weekends, we’ll see more than 100 kids come through our doors.

We might not have the chance to get to know each of those 100-plus children personally through the basketball program. Sometimes, however, a passion for basketball turns into a passion for CRYP, and we have an opportunity to make a lasting difference in that child’s life.

That’s what happened with a young woman named Sunni Dupris, who first came to our Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center to play basketball. That turned into so much more.

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April Hall of Fame: Marquis Aungie Jr.

Although we at the Cheyenne River Youth Project are immensely proud of our teen internship program and our burgeoning arts initiatives, we’ll never forget our roots. CRYP got its start nearly 30 years ago in a little youth center for 4- to 12-year-olds, and to this day, we are well aware that our impact on the Cheyenne River Lakota Nation’s youth begins here—and that “the little Main” makes a real and lasting difference in our kids’ lives.

Marquis Aungie Jr., 12, started coming to The Main about four years ago. He says his friends told him about the drop-in youth center, which offers nutritious meals and snacks, wellness activities, arts and crafts, a variety of clubs, and simply a safe place to play, study and spend time with friends.

“It sounded cool,” says the sixth-grader, who is in his last year at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Upper Elementary School.

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Marquis recently learned how to grow his own food through The Main’s Garden Club, and how to make healthy smoothies. Now, however, he’s looking forward. The next year will bring middle school and, as soon as he turns 13, admittance to Cokata Wiconi.

He says he can’t wait. The big draw? Cokata Wiconi’s full-size Morgan Yellowhead Gymnasium.

“I love basketball,” he says. “I want to be an NBA player one day, and I want to go to Chicago.”

Marquis, we have loved having you at The Main for so many years, and we can’t wait to welcome you to Cokata Wiconi. A whole new adventure is waiting for you.

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March Hall of Fame: Genevieve Iron Lightning

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project designed its innovative teen internship program, it created four distinct internship areas to appeal to a diverse range of interests. Yet staff members are discovering that many teens choose to participate in all of them. Once the kids start learning, it seems, they don’t want to stop.

Genevieve Iron Lightning, 16, is one of those kids. She has participated in all four internships—sustainable agriculture, social enterprise, art, and wellness—and she says she appreciates the many different skills she has acquired through those opportunities.

“In the Keya Cafe, I liked making drinks and stocking the pastries and desserts,” she recalls. “The social enterprise internship taught me a lot of customer service skills, like how to address people and deal with issues.

“I also liked learning about public speaking,” she says of her internship experiences at CRYP. “I’m very vocal already, so it’s helpful to learn how to really draw people into what you’re saying.”

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February Hall of Fame: Claudia Iron Hawk

The beating heart of the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center is its internship program. Created three years ago to provide Cheyenne River’s teens with opportunities to learn valuable job and life skills, the program now includes robust, innovative internships in sustainable agriculture, social enterprises, wellness and the arts.

Some teens gravitate to internships in just one area. Others, like Claudia Iron Hawk, are so inspired by what they’ve learned, they seek new opportunities at every turn. Claudia, 16, has already completed three sustainable agriculture internships, an arts internship focused on graffiti and street art, and a social enterprises internship, which involves operations in the youth project’s Keya (Turtle) Cafe and Keya Gift Shop.

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September Hall of Fame: Randi Little Star

In the years since we launched our Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center’s internship programs, we’ve learned two very important things. Cheyenne River’s teens crave opportunities to learn new job and life skills, and they welcome mentorships that inspire them and encourage them to imagine all the possibilities for the future.

Some of these teens desire and appreciate these experiences so much, they sign up for every internship we offer. Randi Little Star, 16, is one of them. This active 10th-grader has completed Sustainable Agriculture, Social Enterprise and Wellness internships, and she’s currently working her way through the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Teen Arts Internship.

“I signed up for all the internships because I like helping people, and I really wanted to gain more experience in all these different areas,” Randi says. “I’d like to do even more, because I enjoy the tasks, and I love learning new things every day.”

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August Hall of Fame: Salicia Jewett

While many of the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s teen interns have completed multiple internship programs at our Eagle Butte campus, we are constantly welcoming new participants. We take great pleasure in watching them learn new skills, develop a sense of pride in themselves and in their work, and design future plans that incorporate these meaningful job and life experiences.

Salicia Jewett, 17, is one of our new interns. This month, she is working in our Keya (Turtle) Cafe as a social enterprises intern; her responsibilities include cleaning and maintaining the cafe’s commercial kitchen, hand-crafting the cafe’s signature coffee drinks, and providing customer service.

“It’s a lot of the same chores you do at home, but I enjoy helping people, so I don’t really think of it as a job,” Salicia says. “I thought it was time to get off the sofa and do something… to stop being so dependent on my parents.”

So far, Salicia says her favorite parts of the job involve making coffee and the signature drinks, helping with the cooking, and serving customers. She also enjoys the opportunity to work with the CRYP team in the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center.

“This is my first job, and I love it,” she says enthusiastically. “Everyone is so nice.”

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July Hall of Fame: Lisa Littleton

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project first launched its innovative teen internship programs in 2014, its primary goal was to give Cheyenne River’s young people new opportunities to learn job and life skills that would serve them well into adulthood. That goal is now being realized, as some of their more experienced interns are entering the workforce with talent, ability and enthusiasm.

Lisa Littleton, 18, started attending CRYP’s programs in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, when she was a young child. Three years ago, she decided to tackle the first-ever Sustainable Agriculture internship. She served as a intern for three years, becoming intimately familiar with the youth project’s 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden.

Then she heard CRYP needed a staff gardener for summer 2016. Lisa says it was an easy decision to apply for the job.

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June Hall of Fame: Kellyn Circle Eagle

Through the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s teen internship programs, we’re able to engage young people with a variety of interests. Some teens want to work in our organic Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden. Others wish to learn to make gourmet coffees and prepare handcrafted entrees with farm-to-table ingredients in our Keya (Turtle) Cafe, or sell CRYP’s wares through our Keya Gift Shop and seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market. Still others can’t wait to develop their skills in the arts, or become wellness mentors for their peers.

Then there are the teens who feel drawn to all of it. Kellyn Circle Eagle, 16, is one of those bright lights. Not only has Kellyn completed internships in art, wellness and social enterprise, she’s now a regular summer employee in the Keya Cafe.

The soon-to-be high school junior first started attending CRYP programs as an eighth-grader. She says she was excited to go to the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center due to the many opportunities it offered, from regular youth programming to the impressive menu of available internships for willing teens.

“I enjoyed Midnight Basketball and open gym,” she reflects. “They kept me occupied and doing positive things. The wellness internship kept me exercising and healthy; it was really fun. I also completed the art internship, because I always like art and want to continue learning. And the Keya Cafe—it seemed fun and interesting. I loved it!”

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