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

Progress 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

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

Participation Summary:

44 Youth
2 Educators
Education/outreach description:

Forty-four teens completed a Food Sovereignty internship that was infused with information and hands on learning focusing on traditional Lakota herbs and plants. Covid-19 limited the impact we could have on kids as we were forced to close our Main Youth Center in March, which serves youth ages 4-12. We have been unable to reopen the Main and were not able to hold Garden Club over the summer. Unfortunately, this meant that we could not engage this age group in the garden. We focused on the teen interns who learned about and helped plant and care for sweetgrass, sand cherry, wild plum, juneberry, chokecherry and wild grapes.  We also did companion planting in the garden consisting of marigolds, sunflowers, and several types of squash. The interns learned to identify the plants and their traditional medicinal and other cultural uses. We released one press release over the summer describing our efforts to cultivate a traditional Lakota herb garden as a site for learning.

Learning Outcomes

44 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

1 Grant 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.