Eagle Butte, SD

Mar 3rd, 2018 to Mar 10th, 2018
Cost: $850.00 Partner Organization(s): Cheyenne River Youth Project (http://www.lakotayouth.org/) Service Type: Human Services Number of Participants: 10

Trip Logistics & Participant Requirements:

On our first night, while traveling from Rapid City to the Reservation, we will stay at a cozy AirBnb in the Black Hills. Then, after arriving at the town of Eagle Butte, we will stay at the volunteer quarters in the youth center from Sunday evening to Saturday morning. These rooms include cots, bedding, and access to showers (yay!), although bringing your own blanket or pillow is suggested.  

As we travel to our site, participants will explore many of the landmarks of South Dakota including the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Monument! Additionally, on Friday as a capstone event, we will travel up to the adjacent Standing Rock Reservation to discuss ongoing indigenous advocacy.

We will be driving as a group and flying out of Washington DC to Rapid City, SD on Saturday, March 3, and will be returning to Charlottesville around dinner time on Saturday March 10. While in South Dakota, we will be renting two cars for the course of our week-long stay.

Participants should be willing to engage with an open mind and positive attitude. No background in Native American culture or advocacy is required, just a desire to learn and have a good time! 


Service Activities:

The Cheyenne River Youth Project is a crucial youth services organization to Eagle Butte. Under their leadership, our service work will include helping with the Winyan Toka Win Garden (a sustainable community garden) and preparing for Eagle Butte’s annual Passion for Fashion event, which gives young girls the confidence to attend prom with pride and style! In the afternoons, participants will work with kids ages 4-12 years old and help plan and play all sorts of sports, crafts, and games. We cook meals for the children as well. Participants should expect a variety of volunteering activities, from manual labor outdoors, to event set up and cleaning, to working with younger children. We’ll likely plan one community brunch on Friday morning to invite parents, co-workers, and kids who we’ve gotten to know over the week. For all activities, we will be partnering with CRYP staff or members of the community and often times both!  


Regional Background:

Established in 1889, the Cheyenne River Reservation is one of several Lakota Sioux Reservations in South Dakota, specifically home to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and is fourth-largest reservation (by land area) in the United States. Four Lakota ethnic bands share the reservation; the Mnicoujou, Itazipco, Oohenumpa, and the Siha Sapa. The Median Household Income hovers at the poverty line, and while over 15% of Cheyenne River residents are unemployed, 88% of tribal members were reported unemployed as of 2005. Like other Native American reservations, the tribe oversees jurisdiction on the land. The Cheyenne River Tribal Council is made up of representatives from six districts elected every two years along with a chairman and executive board. In March, the climate of the region changes vastly depending on the time of day, from freezing weather at night to t-shirt weather during midday.

The population we will be working with is the community of Eagle Butte, which is the largest city on the reservation. Demographic data indicated that close to 80% of Cheyenne River residents identified as Native American as of 2010. The population of the community is small, with only approximately 8,000 people living on the reservation.


Community Background:

The Cheyenne River Youth Project began in 1988 and has been growing in size and influence to this day. Originally converted from an old bar on main street, CRYP began without any paid staff members and operated for the first decade on entirely volunteer support in order to provide free child care to youth. With several grants from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, CRYP built their new facility, The Main, and expanded programing. In the early 2000s, Eagle Butte was hit by a series of tragic youth suicides that rattled the community, but served as an impetus for the construction of a new Cokata Wiconi Teen Center. Their work supports basketball, internship, entrepreneurship, and arts activities for youth and teens. Passion For Fashion, which gives used dresses to teens for Prom, is just one annual event that supports the whole community, including the RedCan Graffiti Jam, Back to School supplies drive, and Holiday Toy drive. CRYP relies on a consistent donor and volunteer support, and houses both group volunteers and long-term volunteers.


Recreational Activities:

The Saturday that we arrive, we will drive into the Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore as the sun sets. Then, on Sunday we have plans to hike Black Elk Peak, weather permitting, so come prepared with sturdy shoes and plenty of fleece. Before leaving for Eagle Butte we will stop by the Crazy Horse monument, a lesser-known tribute to the Lakota warrior. It will be especially convenient and thought-provoking to be presented with both monuments so close to one another, as well as offering some awesome picture-taking opportunities. Every afternoon, there will be recreational games that will include the children of Eagle Butte and then later in the evening participants will be able to play basketball or other games with teenagers/young adults. We’ll also be able to go on a art tour of the Lakota-inspired murals around town that Cheyenne River Youth Project has helped to put up (get ready for more pictures). Finally, Standing Rock reservation represents an awesome opportunity to get to see more Native American homelands and possibly visit a from a special guest! *stay tuned*


About the Site Leaders:

Austin is a 4th year History major and Government minor. He loves to watch Netflix (which is pretty clique but I just wanted to put it out there) and is a recovering binge-watcher. He’s never been to South Dakota before but is really excited to be able to go with all of you! He likes to get out and go on adventures, explore new areas, and play strategic games like chess. Maybe most of all though, he’s really looking forward to meeting all of you and getting to know you better!

Eve is a 4th year studying English and Public Policy, and she is an active member of the Native American Student Union and wants to use her degree to work on Native American public policy. She spent Summer 2016 volunteering with Cheyenne River Youth Project, and it has been her dream to lead more UVa students to this amazing community. She loves reading, running, and working with kids. ASB has been an important part of her time at UVa and she is so excited to meet everyone and make this the best spring break ever!