“Our Culture is our Life; Nature is our Future.”
The Itazipʹe Yuwiŋža project—meaning “Bend the Bow” in Lakota—reunites Lakota youth with hunting ceremonies and traditional bow-and-arrow-making techniques. Like many Indigenous cultures, Lakota knowledge and language are at risk of extinction as Elders and fluent Lakota language speakers become older and pass on. The Itazipʹe Yuwiŋža project connects youth with respected Lakota Elders to impart the significance of the bow and arrow through experiential learning. By connecting Lakota youth with Elders, staff, and chaperones, this project can help preserve and extend Lakota culture, history, and language.
A truly immersive experience, the Itazipʹe Yuwiŋža project integrates Lakota language with prayers, songs, stories, and terms related to each step of the traditional bow-and-arrow-making process in order to pass down Lakota culture and traditions. The methods go beyond a “call and response” style of language learning, incorporating explanations of the etymological meanings of each word and phrase. This practice connects Lakota youth with Lakota culture by building a sense of belonging within the community and with the culture as a lived experience.
Lakota youth gain a safe place to reclaim their culture away from systemic oppressions through the Itazipʹe Yuwiŋža project. The aim is to inspire self-sovereignty and uplift Lakota youth as they mature into advocates for their culture, their people, and themselves.