Upijata was founded by Yolanda Cordova Swalley, in 2019 on the Oglala Lakota Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, USA. It is dedicated to creating safe, inspiring, and empowering spaces for women, girls, and families to express themselves and heal themselves through the arts.  

Upijata provides relief from historical trauma and the impacts of reservation life by combating the public issues of suicide and pervasive substance abuse through arts education on the Oglala Lakota Sioux Reservation and surrounding areas. This form of education empowers the community and offers students an emotional outlet by giving them access to therapeutic artistic expression and providing them with fun and enriching experiences, practical skills, and healthy challenges. Upijata programming is focused on personal growth, and developing healthy community identity and pride serving everyone from young children to senior members of the reservations. 

Golden Girls Global has helped us in so many ways including access to 4 years of leadership and movement therapy training. Melissa’s program helps Upijata’s Leaders through the emotional journey involved in chasing a dream, provides access to funding for office equipment necessary to execute a nonprofit and access to a positive loving support system helps Upijata thrive and continue to move forward. Translating the knowledge of the skills gained from Golden Bridge and applying it to personal growth and therefore into Upijata’s growth”.  ~Yolanda Swalley, Founder, Upijata Arts Company 




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