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Two Lakota Women Among Bush Fellows

Courtesy Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation is announcing its 2016 Fellows today. Among the 24 winners from 3 states and the 23 Native Nations in those areas are 2 Lakota women from the Cheyenne River Reservation.

Eileen Briggs has been executive director of Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Ventures for 10 years. The program is a poverty reduction plan created to encompass the voice and spirit of the people of Cheyenne River.

Credit Courtesy Eileen Briggs
2016 Bush Fellow Eileen Briggs

With that program’s completion in sight, Briggs pursued a Bush Fellowship in order to learn more about other Indigenous communities that are trying to promote change.

”To actually go visit,” explains Briggs. “To be a part of To have conversations with key people. To really understand those levers of change. And I also felt like it was a chance for me to beef up some skills around writing and facilitation. Because I really feel like those are the ways you can really lead and guide and direct some important conversations that need to happen for society, for our communities…really our whole state.” 

Eileen Briggs also plans to learn more about Indigenous healing ceremonies in order to help launch the transformational change she feels is needed for all people.

Briggs will visit First Nations people in Canada and travel to see the Maori of New Zealand as part of her Fellowship. 

On a more local level, Cheyenne River Youth Project executive director Julie Garreau plans to use her Fellowship funding to enhance her leadership skills by attending some mainstream leadership classes.

Credit Courtesy Bush Foundation
2016 Bush Fellow Julie Garreau

“Yeah…I’ve never really stopped to say…you know…I need to build…or take a course or go to a conference or that sort of thing,” observes Garreau. “I’ve just never really done that. So, there’ll be some Western leadership models that I’m going to pursue and I have to figure that out yet. Just to build me. To make me a better leader.” 

Since she’s not fluent in Lakota, Gurreau will also take language classes. She hopes this two-pronged approach to developing herself will also benefit her employees, the youth she works with and her community.

The Bush Foundation was created in 1953 by 3M company businessman Archibald Granville Bush and his wife, Edyth. It awards $40 million each year to philanthropic organizations and individuals as a catalyst for leadership toward sustainable solutions to tough public problems and to ensure community vitality.  

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