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Connecting Youth and Sacred Places: NPS Grant Provides Field Trip Opportunity

In order to connect Native youth to the places of their ancestors, the National Park Service granted the Cheyenne River Youth Project $2,250.
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In order to connect Native youth to the places of their ancestors, the National Park Service granted the Cheyenne River Youth Project $2,250 to help fund a two-day trip to Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming and Bear Butte State Park in South Dakota.

“It is a beautiful thing to see organizations like yours touching the lives of our Native youth and working to connect them to the traditional and sacred places of their ancestors,” said Carol L. McBryant, program manager for tribal interpretation and tourism, in the CRYP award letter. “These young people deserve the very best the National Park Service has to offer… It is my hope to expand this program and to continue to make these experiences a reality as we work to build true and meaningful relationships between the parks and their tribal communities.”

CRYP plans on taking 15 teens and five adult chaperones on the trips, which will be both recreational and educational.

The first two stops are Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming and Bear Butte State Park in South Dakota, which are both sacred sites to the Lakota Nation.

“We’re eager to introduce our teens to Devils Tower National Monument and teach them about its cultural significance for the Lakota people,” Garreau said in a press release. “The same goes for Bear Butte. While we’re there, we’re hoping our youth enjoy the beauty of our sacred Paha Sapa, the Black Hills.

“In addition to enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings, getting some exercise and learning more about the Lakota connections to these places, our young people also will have an opportunity to learn about NPS management of these important sites and how they can build their own outdoor leadership skills in preservation, recreation and education. We’re very excited to share these experiences with them.

“When we can connect our youth with respected elders, tribal historians and experienced NPS rangers, they can begin to reconnect to the power of place,” Garreau said. “They can more fully understand the stories in their oral tradition, and appreciate the sacrifices of their ancestors. Our young people are our future, and for them to truly shine, they need to feel proud of who they are—and know that they are as resilient as those who came before them.”