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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Support CRYP's Winyan Toka Win Garden!
by Cheyenne River Youth Project® Press Release
credits: Photos courtesy of Cheyenne River Youth Project®
This month, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, is launching its 2011 fundraising campaign to support the 2-acre, naturally grown Winyan Toka Win Garden. Funds and in-kind donations will allow CRYP to further develop the garden program, an initiative that links into The Main Farmer's Market, the Cokata Wiconi Gift Shop, the children's and teens' meal programs and the ever-popular Garden Club.

"We've already received significant contributions from AARP, Running Strong for American Indian Youth and Child Fund International, for which we're deeply grateful," said Julie Garreau, CRYP's executive director. "Without question, their support has kick-started our 2011 growing season. Now, we need to take our fundraising to the next level so we can meet our goals this year."

According to Garreau, one of the first orders of business is to remove the invasive Russian Olive trees from the western fence line and replace them with native spruce. She said the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe's Prairie Management Program staff will remove the trees and branches then plant the new trees, also providing fabric mulch and anchor pins.

"Russian Olives are nasty interloper trees, and they absolutely don't belong in a naturally grown garden," Garreau explained. "We're looking forward to replacing them with trees indigenous to this area, although the project does come at a price."

To raise the $1,034 necessary for the tree project, CRYP is asking its friends and supporters to buy a tree for $25 each. The grassroots, not-for-profit youth organization also is hoping to arrange a "pennies" campaign with local schoolchildren, who are eager to help buy the new trees.

According to Garreau, that sense of connectedness has always been the primary goal of the Winyan Toka Win Garden. Decades ago, her mother developed the original vision for a community garden, which would fulfill elders' desires for traditional foods and reacquaint Lakota children with their land.

The late Iyonne Garreau approached tribal authorities and arranged to have a north-south plot on the west side of the Cheyenne River Elderly Nutrition Center, where she served as executive director. When the center ran short of room for its potato crop, she returned to tribal government and obtained an east-west section.

"My mom always strived for native food sovereignty and security, as well as for sustainable agriculture," Garreau explained. "She always stressed the importance of fresh produce in a daily diet; the significance of traditional foods for the Lakota people; and the powerful relationships that a naturally grown garden can foster between generations as well as between our people and the earth."

When the garden became too much for the nutrition center to manage, CRYP staff and volunteers took on the responsibility for planting, maintaining and harvesting the garden. They serve the fruits of their labors in daily snacks and meals at The Main Youth Center and the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center, and they engage Cheyenne River's children with a variety of garden-centric programs and activities.

During the harvest season, Winyan Toka Win produce is sold three times per week through The Main Farmer's Market. And every Tuesday and Thursday, youth participants join the Garden Club leader and other volunteers in the garden to assist with planting, watering, weeding and harvesting. After each 45-minute garden session, they add entries to their garden journals. Project leaders choose a "Gardener of the Week" each Friday and send an announcement to The West River Eagle for publication the following week.

CRYP also incorporates fresh produce into meal programs at The Main Youth Center and Cokata Wiconi Teen Center. And, thanks to the organization's canning and food preservation efforts, the Cokata Wiconi Gift Shop offers everything from pickles, jalapeños, banana peppers and tinpsila (wild prairie turnips) to apple butter, salsa, chokecherry syrup and a variety of james and jellies, including chokecherry, wild plum and wild grape.

All Gift Shop proceeds benefit CRYP, ensuring continuity of its youth programs and family services. To place an order, call (605) 964-8200; CRYP also hopes to offer an online store at in the not-too-distant future.

"As Lakota people, the land is important to us," Garreau said. "It's part of who we are, so we need to make sure our kids establish their own connections to Mother Earth. We need to care for her, love her and protect her; to do that, the kids need to understand what a garden can do. It feeds us, it shelters us. Through its healthy produce, it protects us from diabetes and many of the other health issues that are ravaging Indian Country."

This year, as they do every year, CRYP's staff members, volunteers, children and community participants will work hard to nurture the garden and harvest nutritious foods while they also learn to respect the land, the water and the plants. And they'll learn about sustainability; rain-water harvesting, drip-irrigation and enhanced food-preservation efforts are all goals on CRYP's list for this special piece of earth.

"The garden has taught us so much how sustainability really works," Garreau said. "We try to incorporate those principles into everything we do here, and we always try to leave the land in better shape at the end of the growing season than it was in when we started."

Garreau is encouraging CRYP supporters to contact the organization for a "Garden Needs List," and she's actively engaged in increasing community involvement.

"We can do so much more, and we need to," she said. "Having a garden is hard work, but it's not impossible. And the benefits are priceless. A garden really is an outdoor fitness center, a health food store, an engine for economic development and a classroom — for all ages."

To obtain a copy of the Garden Needs List, 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 or visit

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The Cheyenne River Youth Project®: Developing Potential
The Cheyenne River Youth Project® (CRYP), established in 1988, has become an essential youth and family services organization, integral to the Cheyenne River Reservation’s support system, in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Our organization has become vital not only because we provide innovative youth programming and family services, but also because we are a grassroots initiative tailored to meet the needs of our community. With over 369 family memberships reservation wide, CRYP represents local problem solving for critical community concerns.

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