Native Village 
Youth and Education News

April 1, 2013

Tonight is about Hope for a Nice Rite of Passage on Cheyenne River Reservation
Condensed by Native Village

South Dakota:  Life on the Cheyenne Indian Reservation is difficult for teenagers. Unemployment hovers at 75%. There's little money for basic household needs, much less for prom dresses, shoes and accessories for the prom.

Yet for American teens, the prom is a rite of passage. It marks their formal entrance into adulthood, allowing them to wear tuxedos and elegant gowns for a night of with friendship, hope and promise.

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. “Everyone should feel beautiful, special and important for that one magical night of the high school prom.”

Garreau is executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project. CRYP began hosting "Passion for Fashion" in 2001. Passion for Fashion supports reservation teens who need help for with prom essentials.

This year's "Passion for Fashion" took place last month 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,” Garreau noted before the event. “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 event was Lise Balk King, a media and communications expert.

In 1992, King moved to the Rosebud reservation and shifted her focus to indigenous human and civil rights, advocacy, and economic development. She also got involved in independent media and grassroots education.

She cofounded Native Voice Media, The Native Voice and The Native Voice Film Festival.  Native Voice is best known for its "Get Out the Native Vote" work.

“Life is difficult for everybody, but some have greater challenges than others, such as the lack of resources, or no family support," King said. "Many of the girls here have that in common.”

All high school girls on the Cheyenne River reservation received invitations to "Passion for Fashion."  Junior High girls were also welcome to attend, as well as teens from the Standing Rock Reservation and from border communities.

Best of all, family members were encouraged to accompany their teens for this memorable day.


To bring Passion for Fashion to life, 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,” Garreau said. “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.

For more information, visit:


Read a follow up article from National Native News:
Beyond "Passion for Fashion" – 75% Rate of Unemployment Got Eyes of Readers

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