Cheyenne River Youth Project releases full-length “Diabetes is Not Our Way” video


30-minute feature is the foundation of larger campaign, which will include three public service announcements & a 10-part “Indigenous Perspectives” short-video series

Submitted by CRYP

EAGLE BUTTE, SD (October 2, 2012) — The Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte announced today that it has launched a large-scale public awareness campaign dedicated to preventing youth diabetes on South Dakota’s 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, home to four bands of Lakota people. The signature component of this campaign, a 30-minute video titled “Diabetes is Not Our Way,” is now available for viewing on CRYP’s website at

The half-hour documentary was produced by Chris “Mo” Hollis, media director for the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development. It describes type 2 diabetes in detail, provides important historical context for understanding its rise and prevalence among the Lakota population and then focuses on specific individual, family and community efforts to prevent type 2 diabetes among Cheyenne River’s young people.

The Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation and the Lowenstein Foundation provided funding for this important documentary project, which CRYP Executive Director Julie Garreau said will serve as a critical tool for the Cheyenne River community.

“Throughout our history, Lakota people have come together to deal with whatever challenges have come our way,” Garreau said. “Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in our population, yet it’s ultimately preventable. So we need to come together to combat this threat, as we always have done.”

That effort, she explained, starts with awareness and education. It also involves bringing young people back to their Lakota roots.

“Our kids need to reconnect with the land, to learn how Mother Earth nurtures us,” she said. “We need to encourage them to get outside, to exercise, to work in the garden and to eat fresh, whole, unprocessed foods. We need to show them how they can ensure a vibrant future for themselves if they establish a healthy lifestyle now.

“At our Cokata Wiconi Teen Center and The Main youth center, we serve healthy snacks and meals every day, and we often are amazed at how happily and willingly the kids will eat what we provide,” she continued. “They don’t just want chips, candy, pop and fast food. They want good food… they just need someone to show them what they should have and even how to prepare it. And that good food needs to be made available to them on a regular basis.”

Garreau said she hopes the video will engage viewers to take action, whether they’re young people who would like to make changes and encourage their peers, parents who want a better life for their children or simply community members who hope to ensure the well-being of the next generation.

“I also believe this video will be a great tool for other tribal communities,” she observed. “Type 2 diabetes is not unique to the Lakota; we’re all suffering. Information about good nutrition and exercise applies to everyone, and we all can look to our own cultures and traditions for the resources to effect change. Diabetes is not the Lakota way, nor is it the native way. Together, we can reclaim the health of our communities and the security of our futures as native people.”

To support the ongoing youth diabetes prevention campaign, CRYP also is working with its funders and the Seventh Generation Fund for Indian Development to produce three public service announcements for TV and Internet distribution, three audio PSAs for radio and a 10-part “Indigenous Perspectives” short-video series for social media, each of which highlights a tribal member’s views on the diabetes issue.

Three “Indigenous Perspectives” videos have been released to date, with the remainder to come later this month. The PSAs will be released this month as well.

“We’re doing everything we can to spread our message,” Garreau said. “And our message is, quite simply, that our children are at great risk. We need to fully grasp the danger, understand what we can do today to help them reduce that risk and remember, always, that diabetes is preventable. We have the power to change the future if we act right now.”

To view the “Diabetes is Not Our Way” video, visit CRYP will make the “Indigenous Perspectives” series and video PSAs available on the website later this month.

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