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

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 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

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, 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 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 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)!

Meet the 2018 Writing and Art Challenge judges!

Lakota Children’s Enrichment proudly introduces the 2018 panel of Judges (in alphabetical order)!

Check out the Official Rules, print out a Flyer and then start writing and/or drawing. Deadline for the Art and Writing challenge is March 5th, 2018 by Electronic Submission or email to

peter-balakianPeter Balakian — Writing Judge

Peter Balakian is a poet and nonfiction writer, and is the Donald M. and Constance H. Rebar Professor of the Humanities in the department of English and the Director of Creative Writing at Colgate University in Hamilton, NY.  This is Peter’s fourth year serving as a judge for the Writing Challenge.

Peter is the author of seven books of poems, most recently Ozone Journal which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. His other books include the memoir Black Dog of Fate, winner of the PEN/Albrand Prize for memoir and a New York Times Notable Book, and The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response, winner of the 2005 Raphael Lemkin Prize and a New York Times Notable Book and New York Times and national best seller.

Balakian is the recipient of many awards and prizes and civic citations, including the Alice and Clifford Spendlove Prize in Social Justice, Diplomacy and Tolerance, 2012; a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Balakian’s work has been translated into many languages and he has appeared widely on national television and radio programs including 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, Charlie Rose, and Fresh Air.

 Charli Fool Bear  — Writing Judge

Charli Fool Bear is a Yanktonai Dakota playwright, musician, actor, and theater artist from the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota. She is currently a student at Dartmouth College, where she has performed in and written for several theatrical productions. Her play The Crickets Ate the Moon was the runner-up of the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program’s inaugural playwriting contest, where it received a staged reading. The Crickets Ate the Moon has also been performed at Dartmouth College as a part of the YourSpace series. She is the recipient of Dartmouth’s 2017 Susan DeBevoise Wright Award in recognition for excellence in theater.

picture-407Susanne Pari — Writing Judge

Susanne Pari is an Iranian-American journalist and author of The Fortune Catcher, a novel that explores multicultural identity and religious fundamentalism during the aftermath of the Iranian Revolution; it has been translated into six languages. This is Susanne’s fourth year serving as a judge in the Writing Challenge.

Susanne’s non-fiction pieces have appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, National Public Radio, and Medium. She was the Program Director for the 25 literary salons of Book Group Expo, teaches writing for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project, and is a judge for The California Center for the Book’s Letters About Literature Contest.  Pari is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.

Pari frequently speaks and writes on issues of immigration, religious fundamentalism, women’s rights and American identity. As a speaker, Pari has conducted interviews, panel discussions, and conversations with authors such as Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Anna Quindlen, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and others.  Susanne is a member of LCE’s Board of Directors.

Megan Red Shirt Shaw– Writing Judge

Megan Red Shirt Shaw earned her bachelors degree from the University of Pennsylvania in English, and her Masters from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Higher Education. An enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, she is the founder of Natives In America​, an online literary publication for Native American, Alaska Native & Native Hawaiian youth, and currently works as a college counselor at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. Passionate about Indigenous rights issues, college admissions, and greater Native presence in media, she believes in empowering young people to use their voices for the issues they care about in their communities. Her favorite phrase her mother ever taught her in Lakota is “Weksuye, Ciksuye, Miksuye” meaning “I remember, I remember you, Remember me.”

vincent shillingVincent Schilling — Writing Judge

Vincent Schilling is an award-winning Native American author and producer and photojournalist as well as a public speaker who has traveled across the United States and Canada.

Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) now serves as Associate Editor at Indian County Today along side editor Mark Trahant. In addition, he is the Executive Vice President and co-owner of Schilling Media, Inc. a Native American owned Media and Media Relations Corporation, and the host of Native Trailblazers, an online indigenous radio program which airs every Friday at 7 P.M. Eastern Standard Time. In 2011, Native Trailblazers was nominated for an Aboriginal People’s Choice Music Award for “Best Aboriginal Music Radio Station/Program” and is the three-time winner of the Silver Arrow award from Spirit Wind Records for outstanding contributions to Native American Music.

In 2011, Vincent received a human rights award in the city of Virginia Beach for the programs he created addressing Native American issues in the Hampton Roads region. He has published numerous books that profile Native Americans and their achievements.

Wakaya Wells — Writing Judge

Wakaya Wells is a tribal citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He discovered his passion for writing poetry and spoken word in middle school. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Wells spent much of his time working on his craft in the classroom, and through workshop and competition. After graduating, he began writing fiction and is now obtaining his MFA in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe. His work focuses on culture, home, identity and the Choctaw language. Wells has also used his writing as a form of activism to protest issues such as the Indian mascot, colonialism, and capitalism.

Jody_speaking (2)Nobel Laureate Jody Williams — Writing Judge

Nobel Laureate Jody Williams received the Nobel Peace Prize, for her work to ban landmines through the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which shared the Peace Prize with her in 1997.  Williams served as chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL as it achieved its goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997.  Williams is an advocate for freedom, self-determination and human and civil rights who believes that working for peace requires persistence and a commitment to sustainable peace, built on environmental justice and meeting the basic needs of the majority of people on our planet.  In 2006, Williams co-founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which uses the prestige of women Nobel Laureates to support and amplify the efforts of women around the world working for sustainable peace with justice and equality.

Williams is the Sam and Cele Keeper Endowed Professor in Peace and Social Justice at the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston.  In academic year 2012-2013, she became the inaugural Jane Addams Distinguished Visiting Fellow in Social Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her memoir, My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, was released in early 2013. This is Jody’s third year as a Judge in LCE’s Writing Challenge.

12544883_10204289274146799_1421159841_oJuliana Brown Eyes Clifford — Art Judge

Juliana Brown Eyes-Clifford is an artist, model, photographer, baker, gardener and –last but not least –the bassist and Co-Founder of Scatter Their Own, Pine Ridge’s home grown rock band that combines social messages with original music. Juliana took home the Grand Prize in LCE’s Art Challenge last year (when the theme was “We Are Here”) with her amazing depiction of Unci Maka, or Grandmother Earth. We welcome her this year as a Judge for the Art Challenge.

Juliana is a role model for all young people and has spoken at LCE’s Youth Summits about strategies for health, wellness and rising above negativity.

GreggDealColonialismGregg Deal — Art Judge

Artist and activist Gregg Deal has become one of the nation’s leading native art activists, and will return this year to judge LCE’s Art Challenge.

Gregg is a member of the Pyramid Lake Paiute tribe and uses art as a means to create a social impact and to illustrate a message. His work is featured among the Honor the Treaties collection, and is on display at venues, cities and is seen on murals across the country.

Poster Deal 300There is almost no issue facing America’s first peoples that Gregg has not taken on with his artwork. His work combines creativity with expression and opinion, and sparks controversy and conversations. He has tackled football names, the protection of Grandmother Earth, cultural appropriation, colonialism and many other issues.

Gregg heard of our art challenge two years and sent the entrants a quick video note, congratulating them for entering and for believing in themselves. This year, we are proud to welcome him back for the second year in a row as a judge for the art entries!

Gregg is based in Washington DC and has presented at the National Museum of American Indians and around the world and is the recipient of numerous awards and grants.

Michael Patton — Art Judge

Michael Patton is Oglala Lakota and Isleta Pueblo. A self taught artist residing on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation owner of the Lakota Art Studio specializing in screen printed apparel, in which the designs are a reflection of Lakota culture, Our Way of Life and also the Oyate (the people). Patton is a long time advocate for uplifting Lakota culture and youth in the Pine Ridge community. His designs are celebrated and worn by all across the reservation.

Click HERE for the Rules

Click HERE for the FAQ

Click HERE for an Entry FormDeadline Extended to March 5th! 

Click HERE for a FLYER with all the details