APRIL 13, 2014
CONTACT: Candace Ducheneaux
(605) 733-2148 (605) 200-0044



SWIFTBIRD, SD April 14, 2014 — “Mni considers it a huge success”, said Candace Ducheneaux, principal organizer of Mni grassroots for water justice, of the Clean Water for Cheyenne River campaign that launched April 3rd at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® (CRYP®) compound. Mni, currently based in Swiftbird, SD, is collaborating with CRYP® in this movement to protect and clean up tribal waters.

The event, which hosted a public feed followed by informational videos and speakers, attracted a crowd of almost fifty people. This enthusiastic response was encouraging for Mni organizers. “It is hard to get those numbers together for any cause on this rez. The membership is so disillusioned with an unresponsive and dysfunctional tribal council”, explained Ducheneaux.

Despite disillusionment, people came out to hear Mni’s message of encouragement and the movement to assert their right to safe water.

“Clean water is a basic human right”, said Ducheneaux speaking to the community, “if our tribal government will not protect our children, we must demand our rights”.

Many in the audience were surprised to learn that their local water supply is contaminated with pollutants such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and asbestos piping. The imminent threats of oil pipelines and hydraulic fracturing were also touched upon in Mni’s water presentation.

Anti-fluoride Petition
The event also featured a video on the dangers of water fluoridation. Fluoride is the toxic by-product of phosphate manufacturing commonly added to water by U.S. water suppliers for its purported ability to fight tooth decay and to meet U.S. EPA standards. Water fluoridation, however, has been banned or rejected in several European countries as well as China and Japan, for concerns regarding its neurotoxic properties that are particularly harmful to the development of children.

In response to the video and presentation, concerned audience members determined the best course of action is to demand the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal council protect their clean water sources. Several Oglala Lakota College students who attended the gathering offered to ask the college legal department to assist in writing a petition asking the tribe to end forced fluoridation of their local water supply.

Poster Contest; Cash Prizes
During the event and feast, Mni launched a community poster contest: “What does water mean to you?”

Submissions will be featured on Mni’s website – – where the public is invited to vote for their favorite design. Mni is awarding cash prizes to those that garner the most votes: a $100 prize for the adult category with 5 runners-up winning $20 prizes; for the youth category a $50 prize with 5 runners-up winning $10 prizes. Additionally, participation awards will be presented by CRYP® to all youth entrants who complete their poster at their center during regular scheduled hours. CRYP® will provide the poster materials.

“We are hoping to have lots of entries from the people of Cheyenne River,” said Karen Ducheneaux, Mni spokesperson who also addressed the gathering.

Mni Water Restoration Camp
All those who attended the Clean Water event received an invitation to Mni’s two-week water sustainability training camp, to be held June 22nd through July 5th at Tatanka Wakpala on the east end of the Cheyenne River reservation.

“There are so many who are committed to protecting the water,” says Karen, “this camp provides those people an opportunity to get practical experience learning ways to restore our ground waters and help reestablish a healthy water cycle.”

Several attendees accepted Mni’s offer and are planning to join international and intertribal volunteers for hands-on training in water and ecosystem restoration through the building of several rainwater catchments on 10 acres of tribal land. Camp registration can be completed at

May is Water Month at CRYP
CRYP®, which recently celebrated its 25th anniversary, designated May as water month for the first time last year. “Protecting our water supply for current and future generations is a moral imperative”, said Julie Garreau, CRYP®’s dynamic executive director. Learn more about this reservation grassroots non-profit youth service organization at

This year for the month of May CRYP® is hosting Wednesday Documentary Nights. Mni team leaders will organize two of these sessions, on May 7th and May 21st, for community-focused projects.

For more information about Mni and CRYP® joint efforts please visit the website .


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