How to Advocate for Native American People and Culture | Julie Garreau

Julie A. Garreau

Cheyenne River Youth Project in South Dakota

Ep. 179 - Julie Garreau’s passion for preserving the Native American culture and language in South Dakota is exhibited through her role as a dedicated youth advocate. An enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Julie has served as executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) since its 1988 inception. She has seen its expansion from a tiny one-room youth center to a comprehensive multiservice youth and family services organization that includes “The Main” youth center for children ages 4-12, the Ċokata Wiċoni (Center of Life) teen center for youth ages 13-18, the Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute, the Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) Garden, and three social enterprises—the Keya (Turtle) Cafe, the Keya Gift Shop, and the Leading Lady Farmers Market. Julie hopes that CRYP will become a model for other communities to follow as they develop effective, sustainable, culturally relevant youth programming. In the last six years, Julie and her staff launched the innovative, groundbreaking Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) Lakota Arts Institute, Waniyetu Wowapi Art Park, and RedCan Graffiti Jam (recipient of Americans for the Arts’ 2017 Robert E. Gard Award) at the CRYP campus. In 2019, RedCan was one of 50 projects honored through the Americans for the Arts’ PAN Year in Review program. That same year, Julie received the Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Award, and she joined Arts South Dakota’s Board of Directors. In this episode, Julie talks about her passion for the youth and advocating for the restoration of her community’s culture and language. Listen in to learn the importance of being passionate in whatever you do to find happiness and fulfillment in it. You will also learn the value of advocating for the preservation of indigenous people’s culture.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to be passionate in what you do to be happy and feel accomplished
  • The importance of taking care of a community to preserve its language and culture
  • How to be a servant leader who is willing to do what they want to see done
  • How to be compassionate and kind to other people

"People are always measuring data, but it would be nice if we could measure the value of kindness. And how much that matters to a human spirit."


In this episode you’ll discover:

Julie shares how her family and her willingness to help led her to a career in nonprofit [0:59]

She describes the age range of kids they work with and all they’ve accomplished over the years [6:18]

The 3 lessons that Julie has learned as a member and leader of the Cheyenne River Youth Project [7:18]

She describes her passion for her job and the joy it brings her to serve her people [8:49]

The type of leadership she practices as a woman in her community [12:02]

She shares some of the differences she made as a leader in her community [16:44]

How she encourages young people to experience the world in and out of the reservation [21:08]

Why we need people to be civically engaged, call out racism, and be kinder to each other [25:02]

Julie on why you should live a life that makes you happy and fulfilled [27:34]


In 2002, the South Dakota Coalition for Children named CRYP a “Champion for Children,” and Julie was named to an honor roll that recognized its 16 members’ outstanding dedication to South Dakota’s children. In addition to serving as a Suicide Crisis Referral Hotline Counselor from 1994 to 2000, she testified before the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Hearing on Youth Suicide Prevention in 2005. Her name appears on the Honor Wall at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C.


Julie has received the South Dakota Volunteer of the Year Award (1992), the Presidential Points of Light Award (1993), the Lakota Nation Invitational Tournament Public Service Award (1993); the Father Hogebach Service to Native American Children Award, presented by St Joseph’s Indian School (1995); the North American Indian Women’s Association Fellowship “Among All Peoples” Award (1999); the Garden Supply Company’s First Place “Garden Crusader” Award (2005); and the Spirit of Dakota Award (2009). She recently accepted the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development’s prestigious Tim Wapato Public Advocate of the Year Award for 2019.


Julie served on the Fairy Godmother’s Fund Council from 2008 to 2010; that year, she also ran as the District 28 candidate for the South Dakota State Senate. In 2011, Julie completed Hopa Mountain’s Native American Nonprofit Leadership Program. She then went on to complete a series of fellowships: Bush Foundation Native Nations Rebuilders Fellow (2012), Cordes Fellow (2015), and Bush Fellow (2016-18). This year, she joined the Gratitude Network’s 2021 Gratitude Fellowship cohort.

Julie served on the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Advisory Council in 2007, and Gov. Dennis Daugaard appointed her to the South Dakota Commission for National and Community Service in 2011. She also has been a member of the South Dakota Attorney General’s Indian Advisory Council.

In 2014, she became a founding member of the Native American Food Systems Alliance; she is completing her term as NAFSA president in 2021. She established the farm-to-table Keya Cafe & Coffeeshop, the Keya Gift Shop & E-Store, and the seasonal Leading Lady Farmer Stand at the CRYP campus, and she continues to spearhead sustainable agriculture initiatives for children, teens, and the Cheyenne River community.


Leave a Comment to Join the Discussion!

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top