Last week, Executive Director, Erik Stegman, traveled to the Cheyenne River reservation where the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) hosted their 7th annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam. Red Can consisted of inviting 12 guest artists to create large-scale murals, guest performers, and holding multiple youth art activities. Cheyenne River Youth Project is also a grantee partner in our Native Voices Rising funding collaborative with Common Counsel Foundation.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.
The RedCan festivities began on Wednesday, July 7th with a morning drum song and blessing at the Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life) teen center. The first day’s schedule included the opening of a “Pollination Station” where 4 to 12-year-olds built and decorated their own bee houses and bee baths. Later, the younger children were taught how to make Play-Doh in the Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park.
The teenaged participants were able to create spray chalk paintings and paint their own skateboards. The two age groups later participated in the “Sports Field Day” activities to conclude the day. The rest of the weekend’s youth activities included creating jewelry, making rock sculptures, folding origami boxes, more Field Day activities, and more.
The 12 guest graffiti artists spent the first two days painting at the massive mural site located at an abandoned downtown apartment complex on the east side of Eagle Butte’s Main Street. The last two days were spent painting murals in the Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park.
Guest artists were not the only invited guests. Minneapolis-based hoop dancers and storytellers Lumhe and Samsoche Sampson (better known as the Sampson Brothers), local drum group Wakinyan Maza, and DJ Micah Prairie Chicken performed throughout the weekend.
RedCan also hosted multiple cultural activities. The 100 Horse Society assisted with raising tipis in the park. The CRYP hosted Lakota exhibition dancers and arranged for youth to take hoop-dancing lessons from the Sampson Brothers before the Brothers’ public performance.
Erik was in attendance and was present for the groundbreaking of a new youth center. “There was something particularly special to be out there this year as we come to the other side of this pandemic,” said Stegman. “Julie and her team do such good work for the youth of Cheyenne River and it’s just incredible having so many artists from around the world working with their kids on murals. This year was especially moving because they held a ground breaking for their new Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute, which should be open in a year or two.“
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 them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.