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All-Lakota Youth Archery Team Advances to National Tournament

An all-Lakota youth archery team from South Dakota is on its way to a national tournament.

After winning the South Dakota state archery championship for the second year in a row, the Cheyenne Eagle Butte Elementary School archery team will be advancing to the 7th Annual National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) National Tournament.

The all-Lakota team of young archers will compete in the 2016 NASP National Archery Tournament on May 12 through 14 at the Kentucky Expo Center in Louisville.

The Cheyenne Eagle Butte (CEB) Elementary Ohitika Archery Team, is made up of third, fourth, and fifth grade students, all who are members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. While the NASP rules say that competition is for fourth and fifth grade students, third grade students are also eligible if they undergo specific NASP archery training. 

Archery has become a fast-growing sport at Cheyenne Eagle Butte schools, and this is just the fourth competitive year of the team. “We started out in PE class with archery introductions,” CEB Archery Coach Allen Benoist told ICTMN.

After many elementary students showed great interest in archery, the CEB Ohitika Archery Team was formed. “Not all the kids are basketball players here,” Benoist said. “But many of these kids, they’ll pick up a bow.”

At the South Dakota state archery tournament, archers can qualify for nationals by either winning the championship, or by reaching a superior score. “Because the team’s score was so high, the kids would have qualified for nationals either way, and this is a difficult feat,” Benoist said.

Last year, the team scored 2482 to win state and qualify for nationals, and this year the overall team score improved dramatically to 2849. From CEB, six elementary archers placed in the top 10 at state. Brock Ducheneaux placed second with a score of 269.13, Elijah Brewer placed third with a score of 262.8, Braylee Yellow Owl, placed fourth with a score of 259.6, Maximus Bobtail Bear, fifth place, scoring 253.4, Naveigh White Horse, eighth place, scoring 232, and Taysean Eagle Staff placed ninth with a score of 231.3 One CEB middle school student, Adam Berndt, also qualified for nationals after placing in the top 10 middle school students at the state tournament, with a score of 258.8 coming in at ninth place.

The NASP National archery tournament will be hosting approximately 158 schools from across the nation, with over 9,000 kids competing. Kids will be shooting at bulls-eye targets and 3-d animals.

The CEB Ohitika archery team also travels to a variety of other archery tournaments throughout the state, such as the Lakota Nation Invitational archery tournament, and the Dakota Oyate Challenge archery tournament. They are currently fundraising for a charter bus and rooms for the national tournament, and have thus far hosted car washes and food sales.

“As long as we have our community behind the kids, everything goes good,” Benoist said. “When you see the kids concentrating, and focusing, when you see the end product and you see how hard they work, that means a lot.”