Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
EAGLE BUTTE, SOUTH DAKOTA With the unemployment rate hovering around 75 percent, life on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation in South Dakota is difficult for teenagers.
Passion for Fashion
There's little money for basic household needs, much less for dresses, shoes and accessories for the prom.
Yet for American teenagers, there is perhaps no greater rite of passage. The prom marks teens' formal entrance into adulthood, allowing them to don tuxedos and elegant gowns for a night that shines with friendship, hope and promise. The future should never seem brighter than it does on prom night.
But what happens if the prom lies out of reach due to financial constraints?
Enter the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte.
“We believe that our kids should have access to the experiences and lifelong positive memories that other American kids enjoy,”
said Julie Garreau, executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project.
“Everyone should feel beautiful, special and important for that one magical night of the high school prom.”
All high school girls on the Cheyenne River
Reservation received personalized invitations
Cheyenne River Youth Project created "Passion for Fashion" in 2001. It was created to provide support for reservation teens who need assistance for all prom essentials. The program has been successful because it fosters intergenerational exchange, bonding, self esteem and positive body image.
This year's "Passion for Fashion" takes place tonight, Saturday, March 9 at CRYP's Cokata Wiconi teen center. This year's theme: "The '80s - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."
“We're also going to host professional photographers again this year, so our girls can experience a real fashion photo shoot with their friends and even with their family members,”
“We introduced our 'Passion for Fashion' photo studio last year, and it was a huge hit. Each girl received free keepsake photos, and families could order additional prints online.”
The keynote speaker for this year's Passion for Fashion will be Lise Balk King, a media and communications expert who has worked for more than 20 years as a producer, publisher, advocate, consultant, event organizer, writer, editor, filmmaker and photographer.
Lise King Harvard Scholar
In 1992, King moved to the Rosebud Indian reservation, where she shifted her focus to indigenous human and civil rights, political and social advocacy, community education and economic development. She also got involved in independent media and grassroots education.
King cofounded Native Voice Media, the independent national newspaper The Native Voice and The Native Voice Film Festival. The Native Voice is best known nationally for its "Get Out the Native Vote" work. A graduate of Harvard Kennedy School with a Master in Public Administration degree, King also has worked on projects for the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, South Dakota Alliance for the Mentally Ill's Native American Advocacy Project, Houghton Mifflin Publishing, the Grameen Foundation, the National Indian Gaming Association, the Bureau of Indian Education, the South Dakota Governor's Office, South Dakota Public Television and the National Congress of American Indians.
“Life is difficult for everybody, but some have greater challenges than others, such as the lack of resources, or no family support. Many of the girls here have that in common,”
said King about why she felt it was important to be part of tonight's event.
“But, if the 'secret sauce' is courage, then the great equalizer is a desire to act. Even if you've come from formidable circumstances, you can achieve the seemingly impossible. I can attest to this. I often borrow courage and at times, faith from my friends and colleagues. And the girls here can do this, too. The key is not letting the fear of failure or criticism stop you.”
All high school girls on the Cheyenne River reservation received personalized invitations to "Passion for Fashion." However, Cheyenne River's junior high girls may attend as well. Cheyenne River Youth Project also welcomes teens from the Standing Rock reservation and from border communities such as Faith, South Dakota.
Best of all, family members of all ages are encouraged to accompany their teens for this memorable day at Cokata Wiconi.
To bring the 2013 Passion for Fashion event to life, however, CRYP needs prom dresses and accessories. Lots of them.
“We need new and gently used dresses in sizes four to 26, but we especially need sizes 16 to 26,”
“The same goes for shoes. We need shoes in all sizes, but especially in sizes 9 to 12.”
Cheyenne River Youth Project also is asking for jewelry and hair accessories; makeup and bath sets; gift cards and cash donations. Staff and volunteers will take any contributed funds and make additional purchases based on need.
Please send donations to:
PO Box 410
East Lincoln Street
Eagle Butte, South Dakota 57625
or simply visit the youth project at www.lakotayouth.org ».
posted March 9, 2013 9:30 am est