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RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA - The 35th Lakota Nation Invitational is underway this week. While the invitational tournament began with American Indian basketball teams competing against each other in the mid-1970s, it has grown into a sports tournament, and really a cultural event, that draws over 10,000 during the course of the various events.
The 35th Lakota Nation Invitational tournament kicks-off today at 10:00 am mst and concludes Saturday night at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.
The annual invitational draws 2,500 American Indian students from five states - South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana and Wyoming - to compete in numerous sports and other educational based competition, such as a language bowl and a knowledge bowl. Other activities include an educational summit, a business plan competition and a powwow.“Most American Indian high schools close down today and students come to Rapid City for the invitational,”
said Bryan Brewer, Lakota, on Tuesday to the Native News Network. Brewer is founder and director of Lakota Nation Invitational. "I began this event with humble means Pine Ridge in the mid-70s when schools would not play all-Indian basketball teams. Every year it has grown. Now, it is a huge event."
Basketball great Bill Russell, former Boston Celtic, and Indian rap artist and actor Litefoot, Cherokee, are scheduled to be the featured guests on Friday evening. Each will motivate the students about the benefits of staying in school and living healthy lives. There appearances will occur during the program that begins at 4:30 pm.
Sixteen boy's and sixteen girls' basketball teams from predominantly American Indian high schools will compete in a single elimination tournament. Other sports include archery and wrestling.
Another big event that draws 40 teams is traditional hand games, which are comprised of 10 players per team.
posted December 14, 2011 9:40 am est
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