Lakota Youth Development Celebrates 30 Years
Native American Non-profit Celebrates 30 Year Anniversary!:
Located along the Missouri River in South Dakota, Lakota Youth Development is connected to the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.
Lewisandclark.travel, a proud partner of Lakota Youth Development, wishes them a Happy Birthday of 30 years!
We were granted an interview with the org’s Grants Manager & Language Coordinator Lo Coffman. Coffman being quite the traveler, has found a home in LYD:
“I have been fortunate to travel… across the world. And I will say that our 10-acre cultural campus is my favorite 10 acres in the entire world.”
Currently, Coffman is specializing in language revitalization through land-based programs and educational advocacy. This pursuit of scholarly advancement will help them best serve their role as Grants Manager and Language Coordinator. This interview provided us with insight into Lakota Youth Development’s 30 years of rich history.
Join us in celebrating Lakota Youth Development’s 30 years by learning more about the wonderful organization below:
Established in 1992, the Lakota Youth Development has achieved 30 years of improving young lives.
Back in 1992, there were many youth suicides in the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. Marla C. Bull spoke to the youth and discovered that they wished to be closer to their heritage. She went on to form the Native American Advocacy Program, which would later be known as Lakota Youth Development (LYD). LYD is located within the Rosebud Sioux Tribe reservation. The Rosebud Sioux Tribe are Sicangu Lakota, one of seven bands of Lakota Sioux.
Over the past 30 years, LYD has made it their mission to reclaim Lakota language, culture and spirituality. LYD tries to reach this goal by promoting healthy lifestyles to their youth through culturally-based strategies.
This mission was founded on the spirit of Wolakota.
“Wolakota is basically just the Lakota way of Life”.
Connections to heritage are the most important part in everything the organization does.
30 years of culturally-based programs:
Summer is the LYD’s busiest season. This is because of all the camps they offer. Camps are on the 10 acre campus placed on tribal lands providing a safe environment. Youth enrolled in these camps learn about Lakota tradition and heritage from their relatives.
Did you know that Lakota means “Friend”?
Friends are also known as relatives. Being on tribal lands within that community allows the youth to “reconnect with…relatives they might have made or relatives they never knew they had, or make new relatives while they’re in our space.”
This connection to land and intergenerational learning is key in LYD’s mission to reclaim wolakota. The traditional way of life.
“And that’s really what wolakota means…and the idea of living this Wolakota way of life is how to be a good relative, whether that be a plant, whether that be an animal, a bird, or you know a human being.”
Some of the coolest camps offered include the Lakota Bow and Arrow camp led by world renowned expert of Lakota bow, Joseph Marshall III.
A huge milestone of LYD was the creation of social enterprises. Social enterprises are youth led and youth led projects.
The first social enterprise was developed in 2015. Youth wanted to find a way to reconnect to Grandmother Earth, and thus Honey Lodge was born.
Social enterprises “allow…youth to be apprentices and so they are earning an income while earning… real job experience in fields that are really difficult for them to gain access to since they live on the reservation.”
Since its founding, Honey Lodge has sold their honey to 45 states and abroad. You can also taste their honey today!
This social enterprise is a fully running cultural-heritage tourism site. Tipi Stays welcomes relatives from all over the world. Visitors may stay on LYD’s
cultural campus in a variety of lodging accommodations. Sleep under the stars by pitching your own tent, stay in an actual Tipi, or settle for comfortable bunkhouse lodging.
Youth gain valuable skills through engaging in social enterprises. Some skills include beekeeping, customer service, inventory management, financials and more. LYD tries to offer experiential learning opportunities for every interest.
“Maybe they’re really interested in food service. And we’ve been working with an amazing Chef Kim Braveheart… she has been working with our youth on creating
really delicious traditional meals…we’re harvesting and foraging for the things or we’re taking them from our garden…last winter we were able to have a buffalo harvest. So we got to harvest the whole Buffalo…And now we get to take the meat and we get to make delicious meals with it…and we get to show that to our youth. We get to show that to our community. We get to show that to our guests, whether they’re…from 10 minutes down the road or across the world…So we’re really focused on giving our youth those opportunities, so they know that they have options and they get to explore what they’re interested in. And then they have that job experience. So, when they… graduate from our program, they feel confident when they go out into the world that they can sustain themselves and that they have a firm…sense of identity.”
A Note on Cultural Heritage Tourism:
Tipi Stays empowers youth to reclaim their narrative. Youth can interact with people who are interested in learning from them. Through this many preconceived misconceptions can be corrected.
How you can support Native American non-profit’s like LYD:
When asked how people who are non-indigenous can join LYD in their celebration of 30 years, Lo Coffman commented:
“Making sure that you are supporting native businesses, native artists…not coming in with a preconceived notion of what you will experience…come with an open heart and an open ear.”
Celebrating 30 years with LYD:
You can support LYD in particular by-
- Purchasing from their Amazon wish list
- Supporting LYD Social Enterprises
Enjoyed this blog post? Learn more about how you can support Indigineous businesses along the Lewis and Clark Trail, and check out our partner’s site!