The Cheyenne River Youth Project® is moving ahead quickly with its plans for the innovative new Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute. Not only has it embarked on a widespread search for a full-time artistic director to manage LAI operations and Lakota artists to serve as instructors and youth mentors, it is already hosting art classes focused on traditional Lakota crafts and is laying the groundwork for additional classes and camps.
The nonprofit youth organization has offered arts instruction to 4- to 12-year-olds throughout its nearly 30-year history, and to teens for the last decade. Now, thanks to grants from the ArtPlace America National Creative Placemaking Fund and NEA Our Town Technical Assistance, CRYP finally has the resources to realize its vision of a multidisciplinary, community-based arts institute at its Eagle Butte campus.
In the beginning, LAI will continue to support students in graffiti and street art education, a process that began more than two years ago with dedicated art classes and the inaugural RedCan graffiti jam. It also will teach traditional art skills, such as drawing and painting, and it will place a high priority on traditional Lakota arts.