Published May 1, 2018
Preschoolers are preparing for the big day by making their own ribbon attire; the event also will include an honoring for the “Growing Into Wowachinyepi” teen leaders.
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA — The Cheyenne River Youth Project has been humming with community activity every Wednesday and Saturday, as local preschoolers and their families put together handmade ribbon skirts and shirts for the upcoming Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Head Start Powwow. This year, the nonprofit youth organization will be hosting the annual powwow in its free, public Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park.
Scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 3, the event will feature the Cherry Creek Singers, the Kiukanpi Memorial Drum Group, Wakinyan Maza, and a group of high school exhibition dancers. CRST Head Start will provide lunch on site.
“We have hosted the powwow in our gymnasium for several years, so we’re all excited about moving it outdoors to the art park for the first time,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “It’s a highlight in our spring Waniyetu Wowapi Performing Art Series, which was made possible through a grant from NEA Art Works.”
The powwow will give community members of all ages the opportunity to witness a special honoring ceremony for CRYP’s five teen “Growing Into Wowachinyepi” champions. Wakinyan Peta will lead the ceremony, and the young people will have the opportunity to speak to the gathered crowd.
The word wowachinyepi means “ one who the people can depend on.” Created in conjunction with the Center for Native American Youth at the Aspen Institute, the program promotes a distinctly Lakota view of leadership while honoring and recognizing young people who exemplify their community’s values.
Cheyenne River’s 2018 Growing Into Wowachinyepi Champions are Claudia Iron Hawk, 18; Daniel Semon, 18; Jaymalee Turning Heart, 17; Randi Little Star, 16; and Oliver Miner, 16.
“All five teens have been active in our internship program, following tracks in wellness, the arts, sustainable agriculture and social enterprise,” Garreau said. “As GIW champions, they’re working on special platforms they’ve chosen—suicide prevention, drug and alcohol awareness, and the revitalization of the Lakota language.
“Having the honoring during the powwow is important to us, because the champions can speak directly to Cheyenne River’s youngest students,” she continued. “We want to show these preschool-age children, who are just beginning their educational journey, how they can make a difference in their community through hard work and embracing our traditional Lakota values and life ways.”
In the final days leading up to the CRST Head Start Powwow on Thursday, families and teachers will meet at CRYP’s Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) facility at 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday and 4-9 p.m. on Wednesday to finish the children’s simple ribbon attire. Staff members are providing sewing materials, sewing machines and plenty of work space. To support the final sewing sessions, CRYP is still accepting donations of materials—including ribbons, toddler-sized T-shirts and even completed skirts—at its main office in Cokata Wiconi.
The CRST Head Start Powwow on May 3 is part of “Week of the Young Child” in Eagle Butt. Other planned activities include Field Day on Apr. 30, the CRST Head Start Parade on Main Street on May 1, Bouncy House Day on May 2, and a special Appreciation Dinner for parents.
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 (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@waniyetuwowapi).