Eagle Butte, South Dakota – December 20, 2017 – Renowned Native American artist and filmmaker, Steven Paul Judd, addressed 147 local youth, ages 8-23, during the 1 Hope Youth Conference hosted by Four Bands Community Fund. From Kiowa-Choctaw decent, Judd grew up on Indian reservations in Oklahoma and Mississippi. He delivered an encouraging message by sharing how he overcame many challenges, including contracting polio, and how he achieved his dreams.
Alissa Benoist, Program Coordinator at Four Bands, explains that the idea for the conference was born out of a desire to inspire and empower youth to believe in themselves.
“It gave our kids an opportunity to listen to someone who has dared to dream big,” she says.
Nathaniel Fast Wolf, a Junior at Cheyenne Eagle Butte High School, says his favorite part of the conference was actually meeting Judd.
“He is one of the bigger Native American artists,” says Fast Wolf.
One of Judd’s short films produced in the Choctaw language left an impression on Fast Wolf.
“I’m not Choctaw, but it was great to see resources in a Native language – that it is available,” says Fast Wolf.
Judd also led attendees in a live art creation, which was a compilation of 176 tiles. Lauryn Clown, a Junior at Cheyenne Eagle Butte High School, says the live art creation was one of her favorite parts of the conference.
Fast Wolf agrees that the live art creation was a highlight. He adds, “It was really good that we participated as a group in creating the art piece and that we had involvement from the community and peers.”
Benoist says the art piece will be a focal point of Four Bands’ business incubator that will be built on South Main Street in Eagle Butte.
Clown’s other favorite was the break-out session on Lakota gender roles. “It was eye opening, and I had a really great time,” she says.
Other break-out sessions, which were facilitated by various community partners, included topics on traditional foods, financial responsibility, and giving back to the community.
Both Fast Wolf and Clown felt the conference changed some of their perceptions.
“It tackled a lot of issues on things we might face, and there are people working to bridge the gap,” said Fast Wolf.