Cheyenne River Youth Project to host “Land + Water = Food” Summit At Cokata Wiconi Teen Center on May 20-21


Food Summit will precede Indigenous Water Summit on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, which is scheduled for May 22-24 at Cheyenne-Eagle Butte High School

Eagle Butte, SD (May 6, 2013) —The 2.8-million-acre Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation is ground zero for learning more about sustainable agriculture.

On Monday and Tuesday, May 20-21, the Land+Water=Food Summit will be held at the Cheyenne River Youth Project®’s Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life” in Lakota) teen center on East Lincoln Street in Eagle Butte. The state-of-the-art, 26,000-square-foot facility will welcome expert speakers, dignitaries and interested members of tribal communities for two days of educational talks, special break-out sessions and documentary films.

“We’re deeply honored to be hosting this special two-day event,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We’ve always wanted Cokata Wiconi to be a real center of life for Cheyenne River — a gathering place where people can share ideas and work together to strengthen our families and our communities. We couldn’t be happier or more excited!”

Marcella Gilbert of South Dakota State University organized the summit. Gilbert, who holds a master’s degree in nutrition, has been actively involved in food issues for more than a decade. Born and raised on Cheyenne River, she said she’s been eager to put together a sustainable agriculture summit in her home community for a long time.

“For 10 years or more, I’ve been interested in healthy diets, especially native diets,” Gilbert explained. “Last September, I moved home and started working as an SDSU extension agent. I learned a lot about organic food at a conference in Sioux Falls, and I thought we should do something like that here.

“I really wanted to reach my own community,” she continued. “As isolated as this reservation is, immediate needs come first. But I knew people were interested, so I wanted to provide an opportunity for them to come and learn more about these issues.”

Gilbert secured funding from the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, the Intertribal Agriculture Council and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Commission. The 4-H Foundation provided funding for the event’s youth component.

On Monday, May 21, registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day. At 8 a.m., following the opening prayer, CRST Chairman Kevin Keckler will welcome the group to the summit.

At 8:30 a.m., Zach Ducheneaux of the Intertribal Agricultural Council will speak about economic self-sufficiency through agriculture. The breakout sessions, which begin at 9:45 a.m., will include “Growing Food in High Tunnels” by Geoffrey Njue, “Benefits of Rotational Grazing” by Pat Guptill, and “Indigenous Diet and Disease” by Marcella Gilbert and Linda Bishop.

The next set of sessions starts at 11 a.m. Topics include “Tribal Grass-Fed Beef Project” by Dr. Jim Garrett, “Climate Trends” by Laura Edwards, and “Farmers Markets” by Geoffrey Njue.

While the group enjoys lunch at 12 p.m. in Cokata Wiconi’s Keya Cafe, Todd Mortenson will speak about land recovery. Two tracks of breakout sessions start at 1:15 p.m. and include “Thunder Valley Development Corp. Inc.” by Andrew Iron Shell, the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, CRST Land Operations’ “Understanding Tribal Leases,” “No-Till Farming” by Frank Kutka, “Hobby Beekeeping” by Ellen Conroy of the Black Hills Wannabees, and “Threats to Land” by Kandi Mosset of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The day’s events will wrap up with a showing of the 2009 feature-length documentary “H2Oil” on Cokata Wiconi’s big screen.

On Tuesday, May 21, all-day registration will start at 7:30 a.m., and the morning prayer will take place at 8 a.m. The morning keynote address will be delivered by Phyllis Young, a tribal councilwoman for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe; after her address, Goldman Environmental Prize-winning hydrologist Michal Kravcik will discuss his “Blue Alternative” at 9:15 a.m.

During lunch at 11:30 a.m., participants will hear a presentation about organic foods versus GMO foods, after which they may join two tracks of breakout sessions. These include “Water in Permaculture Design” by Tasi Livermont, “Blue Alternative” by Michal Kravcik, “Cooped Up: A Q&A About Keeping Hens” by Margaret Bad Warrior, “The Value of Tap Water” by CRST Tri-County Water, “Water Ecology” by Margaret Bad Warrior, and “Threats to Water” by Kandi Mosset of the Indigenous Environmental Network.

The two-day summit will conclude with the 2009 documentary “Tapped,” which deals with the bottled-water industry.

The Land+Water=Food Summit isn’t just for adults, however. Thanks to the additional funding from 4-H, Gilbert is working on a youth track agenda that will run from 10:30 a.m. to the evening hours on both days of the summit.

“We’re inviting a variety of speakers and organizations,” Gilbert said. “The agenda is still in flux at the moment, but we expect that our youth participants will have an opportunity to learn about vermicomposting, aviaries, raising chickens, plant medicine, wildlife conservation, medicinal creations, watershed health and so much more.”

Additional activities will include team-building exercises, archery, a fitness challenge, a hand-drum competition, a viewing of the popular 2004 documentary film “Supersize Me” on Cokata Wiconi’s big screen, and an outdoor concert featuring the band Scatter Their Own from Pine Ridge.

To learn more about the Land+Water=Food Summit, contact Marcella Gilbert at 605-964-4955 or, or Donita Fischer at the Intertribal Agriculture Council at 605-964-8320. Also, please visit the summit’s Facebook community at Land+Water=Food to find a link for online registration.


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