VOICES OF THE LAND: High School and Middle School Grand Prize Winners

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Nobel Laureate Jody Williams congratulates Tayshon Long Soldier on his MS Grand Prize winning entry. Also pictured, from left are Jasmine Mans, Maggie Dunne and Susanne Pari


Susanne Pari, Jody Williams, Colton Sierra and Maggie Dunne. Colton was the High School Grand Prize winner.

Red Cloud High School Senior Colton Sierra was the Grand Prize winner  and Tayshon Long Soldier of the Little Wound School was the Middle School Grand Prize winner in Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s VOICES OF THE LAND Writing Challenge, 2014.  As the Grand Prize winners, Colton and Tayshon earned award for themselves AND $1000 grants for their respective schools, for educational programs or supplies. Their Grand Prize winning entries are set forth at the bottom of this post.

Colton Sierra: High School Grand Prize Winner

Colton was a runner-up last year in LCE’s competition, which asked students to write about inspirational women in the community. Colton wrote a letter thanking his mother for her perseverance and dedication to education. This year he took home the Grand Prize with a moving poem entitled “Walking Home,” which includes reflections about the land, the environment and the loss of natural resources. Colton is a Co-Founding member of Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s  Youth Advisory Board , a team of youth from across the Reservation dedicarted  to helping and mentoring peers and younger students. Colton was one of the YAB members who suggested that LCE include an Art component to its programs, to engage emerging artists in the community. As a result of the Board’s suggestions, an art component was added for the first time this year.


Colton wearing necklace presented to him by Tribal Council member Robin Tapio.

LCE President Maggie Dunne said “I am so proud of Colton.  He is a thoughtful and contributing member of our Youth Board who has the respect of his peers. The future is full of possibilities and we look forward to watching and supporting his future endeavors. ” At Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s Game Changers Youth Summit held on April 12 at the SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club,  Oglala Lakota Tribal Council member Robin Tapio from the Pine Ridge Village District, presented Colton with a beaded necklace and a belt buckle to recognize his achievement as the High School Grand Prize winner.


Tayshon Long Soldier: Middle School Grand Prize Winner

Tayshon Long Soldier, a sixth grade student at the Little Wound Middle School in Kyle SD was the Grand Prize Winner in Lakota Children’s Enrichment’s VOICES OF THE LAND Writing Challenge. Tayshon’s entry, a story of a horse on the Great Plains, earned him an award and also earned the Little Wound Middle School a $1,000 grant for educational support or supplies.  A  grant LCE received from the Rotary Club in Scarsdale NY supported the school grant. Tayshon was one of teacher John Hammond’s students, whose class incorporated the VOICES OF THE LAND into its classroom instruction.  LCE President Maggie Dunne said “it was great meeting Tayshon —  we look forward hearing more from him in the future.”

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LCE Youth Board Chair Keith Martinez (a former LWS student)  and LCE’s Maggie Dunne congratulate Tayshon

Colton and Tayshon also received congratulatory letters from South Dakota Senators Timothy Johnson and John Thune.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Walking Home

By Colton Sierra

There are tumbleweeds tumbling terribly

down the dirt road I walk from.

Lays Bad’s Lays bag thrown out the window

after I’ve been kicked out.

Sun blazing, and dust settling.


Each step I take wakes my spirit.

I am here, but not alone.

Listening closely, keenly, and intently,

and I can hear it.

Just me at my home.


My heart is beating in love

because of this familiar feeling.

Joyous and jovial,

now jogging in the wind.


No dollar amount can amount to this.

Feeling like I’m on top of a mountain.

My heart rate racing ravenously

for the promise land.

But for that I’d need to meet with Doc and Marty McFly

and time travel.


See the only thing promised for the land

is destruction.

Especially the way things have been going.

Water is dirty and the heart

of the country is bound for tractors.

Turtle Island is racing millions of steel hares

with no idea of the future.


So what comes next?

Rich but poor land

or poor but rich land?

There are theories

of some outlandish beings destroying the world.

But maybe we are our own apocalypse.


I’ve stopped running by now,

and my walking pace is slow.

The main road is nearing and I need a ride.

No, I need my uncle’s horse

that is what I need to ride.

Sun to my back, on my way back home.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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Teacher John Hammond with Tayshon

Warrior Horse

by Tayshon Long Soldier

I’m a red and white painted horse. I run freely on the Great Plains.  I eat off grass when I’m hungry. I drink off rivers when I’m thirsty. A lot of Natives try to capture me because I’m the leader of herds. One day 30 Indians chased me for hours. They finally caught me in a valley. They roped me as I tried to escape free, jerking and kicking until I got tired. They took me to a home and set me in a 50 foot corral and jumped on me. I bucked hard, kicking doing anything to get him off my back, but this guy is part monkey or something.  He didn’t come off no matter what.  Now he rides me every day all over the plains. He wars with me. He even war whoops and runs straight at people with a stick and knocks them off.  He races me for buffalo hides and food. He hunts with me and even uses me to drag dead bodies and halls dead buffalo. He had me for years until one day he opened the corral and spanked me in the butt and let me run freely again.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Award ceremonies held at each of the schools were part of LCE’s Global Youth Service Day initiative sponsored, in part, by Youth Service of America, State Farm Insurance and Disney Friends for Change.


© Lakota Children’s Enrichment, Inc. 2014

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