The Knife Chief Buffalo Nation Organization &Tasunke Wakan (formerly Wakanyeja Pawaciyapi - both Lakota grassroots organizations based on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota) will work with Lakota youth aged 6-16 and their families to reinforce and strengthen their connections to their culture through the creation of a cultural camp, storytelling, Lakota language classes, hands-on activities, working with horses, craft classes, traditional leadership training, talking circles and youth.
Generations of Lakota youth and families have been devastated (spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically) by the forces of colonization, forced relocation and abuse at boarding schools, theft of ancestral lands and destruction of our traditional way of life. The western education system that exists on our Reservation doesn't adequately teach our children how to understand and appreciate their culture. Learning their culture will help them regain a balance in their lives and community.
This project will provide honorariums for our elders to work with youth, provide necessary food and supplies needed for the cultural camp and other classes as well as cover basic repairs and purchase propane to heat our permanent facility located in the community of Porcupine on the Pine Ridge Reservation. All classes and activities will be facilitated by local cultural resource people living on the Reservation.
Research shows that culturally-based interventions for at-risk youth in Native American communities can serve as a protective factor to guard against misusing substances, violence and suicide (all of which are at epidemic levels on Pine Ridge). We hope to help youth enhance and strengthen their Lakota cultural identity as a means of discovering and realizing their full potential.