Youth Spoken Word Initiative
Dances with Words™ is a youth development initiative of First Peoples Fund that works with young people, adult mentors, high schools and nonprofit partners on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation empowering participants to become engaged students and community leaders through literary, spoken word and other art forms. First Peoples Fund understands the cultural and historical significance of oral traditions for Native peoples and Dances with Words™ connects young people to these traditions through the study and creation of literature, poetry, spoken word, and music. At the same time, the program uplifts participants’ stories within their own community and beyond.
In 2015, Dances with Words™ was invited to become one of 19 organizations across the country that make up the Youth Speaks’ Brave New Voices Network. With support from this network, Dances with Words™ has grown and aims to create an adaptable program for other tribal communities. The program networks Native young people to literary traditions and other art forms, artist and community member mentors and the broader spoken word community, helping them grow into their roles as culture bearers, artists and community leaders.