Lakota Nation Invitational returning this year, field expands to 48 teams
The LNI was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic
RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - This year will mark the 44th annual Lakota Nation Invitational basketball tournament, and this year’s event is set to be the largest yet.
“To have them back the LNI is the December thing for us to be working on and doing,” says, Craig Baltzer, Executive Director of the Monument
“We’ve been talking about this for years. We’ve always wanted a large number of teams that wanted to come in and with the expansion at the Monument, we will have 24 girls teams and 24 boys teams.” says, Bryan Brewer, Director of the LNI
The expanded field also opens the door to all reservations within the state and beyond.
“Every reservation in the state of South of South Dakota will be in the tournament this year, plus teams out of Nebraska,” continued Brewer
“We had to think about our clients like the LNI and as a big client a lot of features in this building were built to help support and grow their events,” continued Baltzer,
With a large number of people attending the LNI, Brewer, and Health experts are working on a plan for fans as well as players.
“We are working with the Tribal Health board,” added Brewer “and have things right here including testing and vaccines.”
Brewer says Custer and Rapid City Christian will also play in the tournament, and that bringing in non-native schools goes a long way in helping cross racial barriers -- the main reason the tournament started 45 years ago in Rapid City.
“That’s always been our goal is reconciliation with our students and our younger people and not just our Lakota youth but all of the youth,” says Brewer
“We’ve had some Najavo schools that inquired about this tournament.” continued Brewer, “Right now we are full and it is so hard to say no, I see a time when we can bring in schools from Montana and the SouthWest,”
Other events such as hand games and language bowl will also return.
This will year also marks the first time girls wrestling will be held at the LNI.
Brewer also said that not only will they be the first basketball tournament held in the new Summit Arena, but the LNI was also the first basketball tournament to be played at the old Barnett Arena, now called Barnett Field House.
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