RAPID CITY, S.D. ? The Lakota Nation Invitational tournament definitely came of age in this, its 25th year. From its beginning in 1976 as a basketball tournament for eight Indian high schools, under the directorship of Bryan Brewer and Chuck Cuny it has grown into an event unequalled in the northern plains.
Equal parts academic competition, athletic tournament, cultural celebration and family reunion, the LNI offers so many activities during its four days that it can leave the spectators exhausted, not to mention the competitors and organizers. The crown jewel is still the basketball tournament. But there was something here for everyone, with competition in wrestling, boxing, girl's volleyball, handgames, the Knowledge Bowl, the Lakota Language Bowl and a contest of Lakota cultural knowledge called Lakol Wounspe, and a juried show of art by high school and elementary students,.
In acknowledgement of the LNI's maturation, this silver anniversary year saw the official incorporation of the tournament as well as the initiation of the Lakota Nation Invitational Hall of Fame. The LNI board also continued its tradition of awarding scholarships to outstanding student-athletes and, through its Public Service awards, acknowledging individuals who have had positive impact on the Indian community.
The basketball tournament encompassed a 16-team bracket consisting of teams from Red Cloud, Little Wound, Pine Ridge, St. Francis, Takini, Tiospa Zina, Flandreau, Douglas, Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Custer, St. Thomas More, Todd County, Crazy Horse, Hill City, Crow Creek and Lower Brule.
The girl's volleyball competition drew mainly on teams from the same 16 schools. However, Andes Central competed while Lower Brule did not send a team in that sport.