Blog

A Winter Warmer Success!

This January, Lakota Children’s Enrichment hosted a Winter Warmer: a fundraiser and meet and greet at a beautiful private residence in Scarsdale, NY. The event was very similar to our Summer Soiree event in August, which you can read more about here.

Approximately 40 supporters attended the intimate gathering to learn about LCE’s work and to meet our new Executive Director, Autumn White Eyes. Maggie Dunne, LCE’s Founder and Board Chair, welcomed the group and gave the history of LCE’s founding. Autumn followed Maggie’s introduction by performing her poem, “Mitakuye Oyasin,” which won the grand prize award in LCE’s 2014 Voices of the Land Writing and Art Challenge, which was how she got involved with LCE. Autumn also spoke about growing up in Pine Ridge, and updated the group on LCE’s recent programs such as annual Holiday Party and our 2018 Writing and Art Challenge. She spoke about the importance of providing arts, education, storytelling, service, and leadership opportunities which are few and far between on the reservation, however, LCE is working to fill these gaps for Lakota Youth.

This event was hosted by LCE’s board of directors:

Cindy Dunne, Esq.

Maggie Dunne, Chair of Board

Timothy Chilson Dunne

Paul Goldenberg

Ujju Mahatme, Esq.

Susanne Pari

Brenda Schad, Choctaw/Cherokee

Nora Steinman

Jonathan Ungar

Anna Elise Walton

Janet Whiting, Oglala Lakota

LCE wants to thank its host committee and everyone who made it to the event to support our work. We could not do this work without our supporters. Executive Director Autumn White Eyes said, “It was so wonderful to meet so many long-time supporters of LCE and the Pine Ridge Reservation from Scarsdale, NY. I was in awe that so many people in Scarsdale were aware of and continue to volunteer in Pine Ridge every summer! I am so grateful to meet our supporters in-person and share our work with you. I hope that we can continue to host events like this one in your community!”

Check out some of the photos from the event in the slide show above. If you were unable to make it to this event, but would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, then please head on over to our donate page.

If you would like to host an event like this in your community, then please contact us at info@lakotachildren.org

2018 MLK day of Service: LCE Book Drive!

This Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the LCE VolunTEAM engaged Edison, New Jersey in our work for Lakota Youth. We reached out to the local community, and adults and youth as young as 8 years old, gathered and packed 390 books for one of our partner schools: Little Wound School located in Kyle, SD! Books gathered were appropriate for k-12 grades and will go to Little Wound’s Elementary, Middle, and High Schools! The day of service was organized by our Executive Director Autumn White Eyes and Advisory Board member, Alice Liou.

Alice Liou, who grew up in Edison said, “I was overwhelmed with my community’s generosity and was inspired by their willingness to learn and act in solidarity with the Pine Ridge Reservation!”

Our executive director, Autumn White Eyes also reflected upon the day, “Martin Luther King Jr. once said, ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ On January 15th, community service projects were done all across the United States, an important day to remember our communities and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to bridge gaps between communities for racial, economic, and social justice. I am strong believer in social justice starting at home, and even if you weren’t able to participate in service on MLK day, its never too late to give back to your community, and serve!”

It was certainly a huge success to engage Edison in LCE’s work with Pine Ridge and we hope to continue to raising awareness of Native issues across the U.S.! If you are interested in partnering or volunteering with our work please let us know at info@lakotachildren.org.

Holiday Party brings together youth on Pine Ridge Reservation!

This December we hosted a holiday party for Lakota youth ages 12-24 on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation! Over 50 youth were served with a healthy lunch, gifts, and a number of activities at our holiday party.

Activities at the holiday party included cookie decorating, stocking decorating, and a service project of creating holiday cards for residents of the new Oglala Sioux Lakota Nursing Home, which is now serving over 30 elders on the reservation. Each participant of the party received a small candy gift bag, a $10 Walmart gift card, and a door prize. Some of the door prizes included science experiment kits, reusable water bottles, and bluetooth speakers.

Youth Advisory Board members Lane Bordeaux, Savannah Montileaux, and Wiyaka Little Spotted Thunder led all activities during the party. Participants ranged in age from 9 year-olds (accompanied by a parent) to 24 year-olds. They were also asked to fill out a survey about the event. Of those surveyed, we found that 100% of participants enjoyed the activities and wished that there were more like it on the reservation. We also found that 95% would recommend this holiday party to a friend. Many other positive comments accompanied the surveys such as, “ (It was) very enjoyable! Everyone had a great time!” and “I really enjoyed this event! There should be more like it on the rez!”

Youth Advisory Board members Lane Bordeaux, Savannah Montileaux, Wiyaka Little Spotted Thunder, Cheyenne Whiting, Jetta Tobacco, and Angelique White Eyes helped with the planning, organizing, shopping for the event. This event could not have been possible without our supporters and Running Strong for American Indian Youth who helped to sponsor the event.

Piláuŋyayapi (We Thank You) for helping make this event possible! To continue supporting our work, please make a tax-deductible donation here!

 

LCE joins the LNI festivities!

(Photographs courtesy of Tara Rose Weston photography)

The Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) is an annual event in Rapid City, SD that brings together Lakota youth and Lakota communities from across the state of South Dakota for activities including basketball, handgames, language bowl, knowledge bowl, archery, and poetry slam tournaments. This year, LCE served as a co-organizer for the 5th annual Youth Poetry Slam, as an educational vendor, and as a presenter at the Lakota Nations Education Conference.

LCE co-organized the 5th annual Youth Poetry Slam which took place Thursday, December 14th. The Poetry Slam was organized by First Peoples Fund’s Dance with Words program for the last four years. As an alumni of the Dances with Words program, LCE executive director, Autumn White Eyes created this new partnership for LCE. On event day, more than 75 people gathered to watch 20 Lakota youth poets perform. Laree Pourier, Dances with Words Program Manager, noted that the event attendance had more than doubled from the year before.

LCE’s executive director, Autumn White Eyes facilitated a poet circle with breathing exercises and team building activities at the beginning of the event to help students prepare for their performances. Students used this time as an opportunity to meet one another, and discuss the importance of sharing their stories and poetry with their community.

The event began with azilya (smudging), a type of praying in Lakota Culture where sage is burned to purify the mind and body. Youth poets spoke about a variety of issues impacting their lives such as colonialism, poverty, sexual assault, and depression and suicide. First People Fund’s, Angel Two Bulls led a decompression station in the room as a refuge for students who experience triggers throughout the event, because many youth spoke about issues related to trauma.

Talon Bazille Ducheneaux, a Lakota hiphop and spokeword artist, was the event’s MC, and ended the slam with an incredible performance! Talon reflected upon the event and said, “I felt their stories and their pains and their happiness and their hopes and everything. I’ve never felt that close to home before.”

Lakota Nation Invitational was an opportunity for LCE to get the word out about our work. Youth Advisory Board members Lane Anthony Bordeaux and Angelique White Eyes led an LCE vendor booth and spoke to over 100 community members about our upcoming writing and art challenge, and gave away bracelets that say, “Wakȟáŋyeža kiŋ wakȟáŋ, #ChildrenAreSacred,” a very important teaching in Lakota culture. Autumn attended the Lakota Nations Education Conference and presented to Lakota educators on ways they can bring hip-hop and spoken-word into their classrooms and how it relates to Lakota culture.

Check out this interview with our executive director on the poetry slam, and if you are interested in partnering with our work, please contact us at info@lakotachildren.org. Donations can also be made here!

The FAQ: 2018 Writing & Art Challenge

Important Tips to Consider

Make sure you are familiar with all the rules of the 2018 Writing and Art Challenge. Make sure that your entry addresses the assigned prompt.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute — don’t be disqualified because of computer failure, snow storms or other reasons that might prevent you from winning!
  • At the judges’ discretion, Runner-Up prizes of $100 may be awarded in any category.

For best results use our ONLINE ENTRY FORM. The deadline is March 5th, 2018 Activate notifications on our Facebook Page to keep up to date on the progress of the Challenge (there is a drop down option to receive notifications in the box where you “like” the page).

Have a question that is not answered below? Contact us at info@lakoktachildren.org

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to enter the Writing Challenge in order to be eligible to enter the Art Challenge?

No! You may enter the Writing Challenge OR the Art Challenge OR both — it’s up to you!

Will my Writing and Art entries be judged separately?

Yes, by different judging panels. All entries are judged anonymously.

Can I win both the Writing Challenge and the Art Challenge?

Yes! It happened last year! One student won a prize in both categories!

Can I consult with my writing and art teachers on my entries?

Absolutely! We hope that you consult with teachers and mentors, seek advice, and incorporate their suggestions into your work. Your entry, however, must be 100% your own work product. By entering the challenge, you are certifying that the entry is 100% your work.

Can I submit a painting rather than a drawing?

YES! Entries will be judged on relevance, talent and concept rather than the materials used to create them. Look at last year’s winners to get an idea of the broad range of entries!

What makes a poem great?

There is no secret formula to creating a great poem. Make sure you read our interview with Writing Judge Peter Balakian: Peter is a best selling author and poet and in the interview he describes what he looks for in a poem.

What category should I enter?

The Writing and Art Challenges both range from Grade 5 through Young Adults (through age 24). There are three categories for the Writing Challenge and two age categories for the Art Challenge.

I am from Pine Ridge but I attend a High School or College off the Reservation. Can I enter the Challenge?

Yes, as long as you can establish to the satisfaction of LCE’s judges that you are Lakota, a full-time student, a resident of Pine Ridge and that you meet the age or grade criteria of one of the categories.

I am in Elementary School, may I enter?

Maybe! The Middle School category of the Writing Challenge includes 5th graders this year!
Although we do not offer monetary prizes for elementary school students below the 5th grade level, we will accept entries from younger students and we will forward those entries to the judges for their review. Everyone who enters will receive a Certificate of Achievement and will be invited to attend the awards ceremonies in the Spring of 2018. Make sure you have your parent’s or a guardian’s consent to enter.

How will I know if I have won?

You will be notified by email by March 31, 2018, so make sure that when you enter, you provide us with all required information!

What information must be included with my entry?

If you enter using our ONLINE ENTRY FORM, you can’t really mess this up! If you enter by email to info@lakotachildren.org, then you must include with your entry:

  • your name– and include in the email’s topic line “2018 ENTRY”
  • email and phone contacts for YOU and a parent/guardian who has consented to the contest terms if you are under age 18
  • Multiple ways for us to contact you. If we do not hear back from you or your contact, then we may award your prize to someone else.
  • VIDEO entries should include a LINK to where we can view the video; ART entries should include a photograph or digital slide of your entry.

The Writing Challenge has multiple ways to enter (letter, poem, essay, spoken word video or audio file). Is there a preferred method of entry?

 No. Each entry will be judged separately and those with the highest scores will be named winners. If you enter with a spoken word entry, then you must provide a transcript of your entry and either submit a link to a video or attach an audio file.

May I include the Lakota language in my entry or art work?

Yes, but you must provide the judges with a translation of the Lakota words used in your entry.

I am a teacher and want to make this a class project. Can you send me hard copies of the flyer?

Yes! Send us an email at info@lakotachildren.org and we will send you as many copies as you need. Please make sure to include your mailing address in the request and tell us how many copies you would like to have.

I don’t have a computer, will you accept my entry by mail?

No. Please ask your teachers, school administrators or neighbors to help you submit your electronic entry.  LCE is not responsible for misdirected mail or email but will acknowledge receipt of all entries within 48 hours. Please make sure that you provide active contact information so that we can reach you. You can access an ONLINE ENTRY FORM HERE or you can email your entry to info@lakotachildren.org. The entry must be submitted by 11:59PM on February 15, 2018.

I never win anything, why should I put myself out there on this one?

We believe in the power of youth, we believe that you see things differently than adults, we believe that your voices should be heard and that your messages should be celebrated. Go for it — you might surprise yourself!  We will celebrate all entries at Awards Ceremonies and all entrants will win a Certificate of Achievement!

Where and when will Award Ceremonies take place?

Award Ceremonies are tentatively scheduled for April -May 2018, at either the schools of the grand prize winners or at a local restaurant (more details to come soon)!