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Youth Program Succeeds at LNI

RAPID CITY – The Great Plains Tribal Leaders’ Health Board and the Oyate Health Center are celebrating the successes of its Connecting With Our Youth Program during the month of December.

Connecting With Our Youth “Teca Kici Okijupi” (CWOY) is a values-based initiative intended to help reduce the rate of suicide among Native American youth in the area. Informed by Lakota cultural values of caring and compassion, and a belief that all and youth are sacred, CWOY hopes to strengthen connections between American Indian youth and their culture.

During the Lakota Nation Invitational, youth enrolled in the program were crowned champions in the Poetry Slam, and the hand games tournament. The hand games tournament is the largest event at the LNI. The team went undefeated throughout the competition.

“Our youth are healing with our culture and are taking huge steps in participating in cultural events and utilizing what they’ve learned. We are so proud of our participants and excited that our program supports our youth’s spiritual, mental, and physical well-being,” said CWOY Program Manager Trivia Afraid of Lightning-Craddock

The CWOY program staff and participants also supported the Big Foot Memorial Ride. The ride traces the path that Chief Big Foot took in December 1890, a journey that ended tragically at Wounded Knee on December 29, 1890. While on the ride youth learned Lakota songs, took part in prayer, received encouragement, and utilized cultural healing techniques they have been taught.

“Our support Navigators guide our youth using our Lakota cultural ways as a foundation of healing and affirmation. Such as our language, prayer, songs, kinship ways, and our Lakota values. We use our cultural ways to affirm our youth and in return we see our youth utilize the culture for themselves,” added Afraid of Lightning-Craddock.

CWOY is one of several programs that have expanded behavior and mental health services for tribal members living in Rapid City. The Oyate Health Center has worked to increase access for patients to these services after the community requested more in 2019. The Oyate Health Center has increased providers from 3 under the Indian Health Service to 17 under the Oyate Health Center.