Cheyenne River Youth Project
The Cheyenne River Youth Project is encouraging members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation community to share ideas and input as it prepares for RedCan 2020. The 6th annual invitational graffiti jam is scheduled for June 24-27 at Cheyenne River Youth Project’s public Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Art Park and at select mural sites throughout Eagle Butte.
On February 5, the nonprofit youth organization hosted a community meeting so local residents could share their thoughts on the RedCan experience. While they enjoyed lunch catered by Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Keya (Turtle) Cafe and Coffee Shop, attendees discussed highlights of previous years’ RedCan events and how Indian Country’s first and only graffiti jam can continue to grow and thrive.
“Topics included new themes, increased focus on native women’s issues, and ways to strengthen intergenerational relationships,” said Tyler Read, Cheyenne River Youth Project’s artistic director. “We were happy to welcome one of our local Lakota artists to the meeting, as well as Jeremy Fields, an accomplished graffiti writer and art instructor who has been part of RedCan in past years. They both offered some valuable insights.”
The group discussed ways to get elders more involved in RedCan, so they can share their perspectives and help inform the artists’ imagery and storytelling. Building relationships with the RedCan artists, Read explained, is an important component of RedCan.
“That can take shape in different ways, whether it’s elders and artists sharing time together, creating even more intentional pairings between visiting artists and local artists, and perhaps providing greater public access to the artists through special events and fundraisers,” he said. “We’re excited to explore all the options, because at its heart, RedCan is about connection.”
Julie Garreau, Cheyenne River Youth Project’s executive director, agreed. She recalled a meeting at last year’s RedCan that incorporated visiting and local artists, Cheyenne River Youth Project staff, and volunteers.
“We talked for hours about what makes RedCan unique and how we can make it even better,” Garreau recalled. “It’s so important to us that we hear the voices of our artists, our youth, our elders, and our community at large. RedCan belongs to all of us.
“It’s through connection that we find reconciliation and healing,” she added. “We are dedicated to building bridges with RedCan — from more intentional pairings between artists, to outreach with other tribal nations in our region, to getting our own community even more involved.”
Garreau said members of the Cheyenne River community are welcome to share their RedCan feedback with Cheyenne River Youth Project by phone, email or social media. The youth project also plans to host another community meeting later this spring.
Cheyenne River Youth Project created the award-winning RedCan invitational graffiti jam in 2015 so native cultures and graffiti culture could come together in unexpected and inspiring ways. Not only are RedCan artists showcasing a global movement, its relevance, and how to be part of it, they’re connecting the graffiti world with the indigenous one, allowing native artists to infuse graffiti with their own culture, identities and stories.
They also are providing meaningful, lasting inspiration to Cheyenne River’s young people. Through graffiti art, youth are exploring their identities, finding their voices, sharing their stories, and expressing themselves in positive, healthy ways.
“Over the years, we’ve seen Cheyenne River become increasingly proud of RedCan, which benefits our community in so many ways,” Garreau noted. “We’ve gone from a test project with a single mural and some youth graffiti-lettering classes to a four-day arts and culture festival that drew nearly 1,600 people last year. We’ve gotten to see our full-on dream realized, and we can’t wait to see where RedCan will go next.”
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 lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest Cheyenne River Youth Project news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook (/LakotaYouth), Twitter (@LakotaYouth) and Instagram (@lakotayouth and @waniyetuwowapi).
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.