Cheyenne River Youth Project — Traditional Lakota Herbs, Fruits, and Roots Garden

Final report for YENC20-155

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2020: $4,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Cheyenne River Youth Project
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Manager:
Julie Garreau
Cheyenne River Youth Project
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Project Information


As part of a 50 hour internship in Food Sovereignty and Sustainable Agriculture, interns learn about 50+ different native plants of historical Lakota value. This includes common name, Lakota name, parts used for food, medicine or utility. Installation and maintenance of this garden offers further tools for educating youth about the horticulture, processing and entrepreneurial avenues of pursuit specific to the context.


Project Objectives:
  1. Improve plant identification skills of teenage interns through the cultivation of traditional native plants.
  2. Diversify the garden with perennial native plants of historic Lakota value.
  3. Obtain Harvests for traditional foods, herbal medicines, ceremonially used plants, crafts, and construction.
  4. Reinforce Lakota identity of youth interns with a traditional Lakota garden.
  5. Project results will be shared through various conferences, social media such as Facebook page, and website (


No modifications are necessary. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 On-farm demonstrations
8 Online trainings
1 Published press articles, newsletters
87 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

37 Youth
5 Educators
Education/outreach description:

During the second year of the grant, 37 teens completed a Food Sovereignty Internship that was again infused with hands-on learning opportunities focusing on herbs and plants that are culturally important to our Lakota community. As with the summer of 2020, ongoing challenges related to Covid-19 impacted the work during the 2021 growing season. With the roll out of vaccines and lower infection rates, we were hopeful that we would be able to restart our Garden Club for youth ages 4-12, but were able to hold just one session before we had to pause again due to the Delta variant. The 4- to 12-year-olds document their experiences in colorful journals

The Food Sovereignty Interns again learned about and helped plant and care for several culturally important plant and herbs including sweetgrass, sage, sand cherry, wild plum, chokecherry, juneberry and wild grapes. They learned to identify the plants along with their cultural applications. We lost a few of our perennials during the winter of 2021 and had to replant. Again this year, we did companion planting with sunflowers, marigolds and several varieties of squash. CRYP’s garden yielded nearly 14,000 pounds of food in total, including 163 pounds of culturally important herbs, fruits and grasses.

The teen interns move on to Cokata Wiconi’s commercial kitchen, where the produce is processed for healthy meals and snacks at both centers, menu items in the Keya Cafe, and gift items in the Keya Gift Shop. See program highlights on our website: Winyan Toka Win Garden

Learning Outcomes

37 Youth reporting change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness
Key changes:
  • Increase in skills to start their own garden

  • More gardens were grown at home

  • Increase in enjoyment of gardening

  • Increase in understanding that food sovereignty is an important part of Lakota culture

  • Increase in skills to make a change

  • Increase in interest in accessing local healthy food sources

Project Outcomes

2 Grants received that built upon this project
Increased organizational support to explore and teach sustainable ag:
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.