Lakota Youth Summit Explores Talents

Apr 17, 2015

Lakota Youth Summit poster
Credit Courtesy Lakota Children’s Enrichment

A Youth Summit is scheduled to take place on the Pine Ridge Reservation this Saturday. Hosted by the non-profit Lakota Children’s Enrichment, the gathering will offer guidance in everything from gardening to art to spoken word poetry.

If you’re looking for someplace to have good food…expand your mind…and lay down some grooves…by speaking out poems or creating some art…Rockyford High School’s the place to start.

Lakota Children’s Enrichment founder and CEO Maggie Dunne says this weekend’s Youth Summit on Pine Ridge is calling all takers from 11 to 25 – but the term “youth” is flexible.

“You know, the more the merrier,” Dunne observes. “There’ll be t-shirts, art projects…and one of our youth advisory board members is leading a project to build community gardens. So, you can make your own garden that you can bring home and eventually transplant outside.”

If you’re not down for growing plants or food, Maggie Dunne says exploring other talents might bring you home.

Jasmine Mans (center) with students who attended the Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s Third Annual Writing and Art Challenge award ceremony.
Credit Courtesy Lakota Children’s Enrichment

“Autumn White Eyes and Jasmine Mans will be running spoken word and poetry workshops together,” explains Dunne. “Andres Gallardo will be the one running the art workshop. He does various different things with spray paint, with acrylic paint. You’ll definitely be able to take home your own pieces and possibly add to a larger piece.”

Jasmine Mans is a writer and poet who travels the world sharing her words. Mans was on the Pine Ridge Reservation this week to help present awards to winners of Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s Third Annual Writing and Art Challenge.

Mans says developing the ability to share their thoughts and feelings through words is, perhaps, the most valuable tool Lakota youth can be given.

“Once they know that they have a voice, then they can use that to create change.” Mans  comments. “And to defend themselves…and to defend the people that they love.”

Mans adds that once Lakota youth know they can articulate their thoughts they can communicate with the world.

Runner-Up in "We Are Here" 2015 Lakota Children's Enrichment Challenge - High School Category

Read by Jasmine Mans in "Lakota Youth Summit Explores Talents" 


Payton Sierra - Poet
Credit Courtesy Lakota Children’s Enrichment

By Payton Sierra

I wasn’t supposed to make it.

I was almost out
like the batter with the base hit.
Everyone had their doubts.
Born a month and a half too early.
Things didn’t work right.
My first breath could’ve easily been my last.

15 years later, I stand here in front of you.
And I owe my life to the Creator.
But I appreciate the love from above.
There has to be a reason.
Now standing behind the drum at Sundance
I get to thinking.
Thinking about the road I’ve been walking on.

The impact of the dirt road hurts my feet.
My shoulders feel heavy
but everyday I carry on.
I carry the hurt of the Lakota people.
The hurt they didn’t see coming.

Whether it’s death, abuse or even addiction.
I stand here singing my prayers.
Praying for strength and understanding,
because we all have a reason.

I want my Lakota people to come together,
Through the hardships and the struggles
The Lakota people need to get through it..
Leaving by our own hands,
thinking we don’t have a reason?
Our reason is to bring “US” back.

I pray for strength,
Calling out, hoping that they hear me.
Hoping that the alcohol spills before our blood does.

My legs are growing tired,
But my heart won’t let me give up.
This is my reason.
To help the people who have fallen,
the alcohol takes over their body so I hold them up.
So they can keep walking along.

As I look up, I see the eagle.
He has been with me every step of the way.
Though this may sound like a cliche,
I want what’s best for my Lakota people.
Even though I have no clue
of the troubles I’ll have to go through.
I know for the sake of my people,
it will all be worth it.
I yell, and scream at them who are trapped, “Blihičiya pe!”

Runner-Up High School Category

2015 #WeAreHere Writing Challenge

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