44th annual Lakota Nation Invitational canceled over COVID concerns
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - After a meeting on Friday afternoon, this year’s Lakota Nation Invitational has been canceled -- with the board citing rising COVID-19 numbers across the nation.
The event was scheduled to take place from December 16th through the 19th and would have marked the 44th year of the iconic tournament.
The board has met three times over the past two months to discuss this year’s festivities ... which would have included hand games, the Lakota Language bowl, wrestling, and -- of course -- boys and girls basketball, the Invitational’s most popular event.
Founder of the LNI, Bryan Brewer, says half the teams that were scheduled to come couldn’t make it due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
With no tournament this year, the founders reflected on how the event has changed since its origins in 1976 -- when it was labeled the All Indian Tournament.
“The All Indian Tournament because of racism, teams wouldn’t play the Indian schools in the 1970′s and that’s why the tournament started. When we moved up here and changed the name to the LNI we had a number of non-indian teams participate in the tournament and we were grateful for everyone, the whole goal was reconciliation to bring down racial barriers.” Bryan Brewer, Founder/Director of the LNI, says
The Civic Center hasn’t hosted many events since the start of the pandemic and the LNI was slated to be one the largest since opening back up.
Staff at the Civic Center have been taking calls as if the tournament was being held this year.
“Most of our events that are yearly have been getting calls just to double-check. We tell them it is up to the board and organizers, we’ve been talking everything day by day and something happening today could not be happening tomorrow.” Heather Jasnoch, Advertising strategist for the Civic Center, says
Staff at the Civic Center said while they are disappointed that the event won’t be happening, they support the board’s decision.
Plans are already underway for the 2021 LNI which will add more events for students, including E-sports.
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