Lakota Nation Invitational Brings 8,000 to Rapid City each December
Pressure Mounting to Move Lakota Nation Invitational out of Rapid City
RAPID CITY— In wake of the January 24 incident – where Lakota students were sprayed with beer and racially taunted – and the lack of arrests in the case, the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) board of directors is considering taking its annual event out of Rapid City.
In terms of the people the event draws and economic impact to Rapid City, the LNI is one of the city’s largest events. It draws some 8,000 people to the Rapid City Civic Plaza each December. Some economists suggest the impact to the city is between $5 million – $6 million annually.
Former Ogala Sioux Tribe President Bryan Brewer is director of LNI
No decision on any move will be made until after tomorrow’s meeting with mayor of Rapid City, according to Bryan Brewer, who founded the LNI in 1977. The former president of Oglala Sioux Tribe serves as director of LNI.
“My first reaction is we should not run out town, but attempt to educate people about racism,” Bryan Brewer told Native News Online on Tuesday morning. “But, at this point we need to keep our options open. I am getting a lot of pressure to move LNI out of Rapid City.”
Brewer is not happy it is taking the Rapid City Police Department so long to make arrests, especially since certain individuals have been identified as being the perpetrators of January 24th incident.
Related: Rally Planned in Rapid City to Protest Lack of Arrests in Racist Offense of Spraying Native Students with Beer & Taunting
What began humbly in 1977, when non-Native high schools would not host or play American Indian teams, Brewer decided to organize the “All-Indian Tournament,” a basketball competition on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that allowed Native teams in South Dakota to showcase their talent.
The tournament was such a huge success, it moved to Rapid City in 1979 to accommodate rising numbers of participants, families and fans. It was renamed the Lakota Nation Invitational in 1987, and today it engages teams from more than 15 high schools in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.
LNI has grown into a four-day event that brings together more than 2,500 student-athletes from on and off the reservation to compete in sports from wrestling to archery.