Cheyenne River Reservation Fine Art Book Project – Press Release

Juste wanted to share the official press release of our project. Here it is:




Cheyenne River Youth Project Contact: Heather Steinberger
East Lincoln Street (720) 383-5239
P.O. Box 410
Eagle Butte, SD 57625


Project Incorporates Cheyenne River Youth Project® Writing Group and New Website

EAGLE BUTTE, SD (September 21, 2011) — Although many photographers and writers have documented native reservations over the years, the picture they paint of Indian Country tends to be a negative one, focusing primarily on the poverty and social ills that afflict reservation communities. This month, however, a creative team from Colorado and Wisconsin has embarked on a project that takes a different approach.

Richard and Heather Steinberger, a photographer-writer team from Bailey, Colorado, has joined forces with accomplished Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin-based photographer Matt Normann to develop a coffeetable book that will showcase the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in north-central South Dakota. The book will celebrate Cheyenne River’s landscapes, its flora and fauna, its communities, its traditions and its people.

“We want to create something that, if we put it into the hands of the Lakota elders, will give them a sense of pride, a feeling that we have honored them,” said Heather Steinberger, a internationally published magazine writer who also has worked closely with the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte for the last six years. “We’re not going to whitewash the hardships that are present here. But we hope to demonstrate to a wider audience that beauty, joy and hope often are found in the most unexpected places.

“To discover that beauty and to appreciate the stories that run deeply within this land and its people, we need to first open our eyes,” she added. “And then, open our hearts.”

The book will incorporate a broad range of fine-art images, captured by Richard Steinberger and Matt Normann through four seasons on Cheyenne River. And while Heather Steinberger will prepare an introduction for the book, the images will be accompanied by the words of those who know this place best — Cheyenne River’s young people.

“We’ve started a writing group at our Cokata Wiconi Teen Center as part of our ‘Circle of Storytellers’ programming,” explained Megan Guiliano, CRYP’s youth programs director. “The teens meet weekly, and throughout the year, they’ll be learning about different types of writing, practicing different skills and techniques and undertaking a variety of projects, from poems and flash fiction to essays, creative nonfiction and blog posts.”

To support the teens in their new endeavors, CRYP will be launching a new website to display all the young writers’ work. And as soon as the images for the Cheyenne River coffeetable book are complete in September 2012, Heather Steinberger will work closely with CRYP staff to identify the strongest pieces for inclusion in the coffeetable book.

“Once we have a body of work from which to choose, I’ll be selecting excerpts, editing the work and pairing each piece of writing with a specific image,” Steinberger explained. “Each photo will be accompanied by an original piece of writing, giving these young people a special opportunity to share their home, community and culture with countless others. The book and the website together will give them a voice.”

While the book won’t be able to hold the work of all the young writers, the website will be a permanent home for their creative efforts. And as “Circle of Storytellers” programming continues to develop at CRYP, the website eventually will incorporate other art forms — painting, drawing, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, beading, music and so much more.

“The book project really kicked off our ‘Circle of Storytellers’ program, which has been funded by a Citigroup Impact Grant,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “The idea is to take the Lakota oral tradition and bring it into the 21st century. We want our young people to spend time with their elders, learn their cultural traditions and become more at home with the land. Then we want them to take whatever inspires them and create their own art.

“We’re delighted that we can help support Richard, Heather and Matt with the book project, because they’re asking our young people to engage with the older generations, with their community and with their heritage — and then they’re asking them to take that experience and turn it into something new and fresh. We believe that will a long way toward reconciliation, and it will give them a tremendous sense of confidence.”

When the coffeetable book is published, a portion of the proceeds will support CRYP’s youth programming and family services. In addition, the photographers hope to make a selection of limited-edition fine-art prints available for purchase; a portion of these proceeds will support CRYP as well.

“When we unveil the finished book, we’d also like to launch a traveling fine-art exhibition that would incorporate the book’s images, each paired with its designated piece of writing,” Richard Steinberger commented. “We’d love to see the Cokata Wiconi Teen Center host the premiere, then the show could travel to different venues around the country.”

The creative team plans to be on Cheyenne River in late October and in December, just prior to the holidays. Plans for 2012 include trips in February, March, July and September. While Richard Steinberger will focus on landscapes and still-life images within the natural and community environments, Matt Normann will concentrate on fine-art portraiture.

“On the landscape side, we’re looking for areas of striking natural beauty or of historical and cultural significance,” Steinberger explained. “On portrait side, we’d like to show those who are making a difference here. That could include people who work with specific government or not-for-profit organizations, community volunteers, police officers, firefighters, teachers and EMTs. It also could include people who play important roles in Lakota culture, who actively keep certain traditions alive and teach them to the younger generations.”

The creative team welcomes suggestions for photo locations and subjects. Feel free to contact the team through Heather Steinberger at And to follow the project as it progresses in the coming months, visit


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