Published December 20, 2019
RAPID CITY, S.D. — The 43rd Annual Lakota Nation Invitational, a basketball tournament that draws American Indian 16 boys and 16 American Indian girls high school basketball teams each December, is underway at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, South Dakota.
The invitational began in 1976 in the aftermath of the American Indian Movement takeover of Wounded Knee in 1973 when tensions ran high in South Dakota.
“Back then non-Indian teams did not want to play Indian teams because they feared violence. There was a perception that coming to the reservations to play basketball could turn violent,” says Bryan Brewer, the former president of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, who started the invitational. The first invitational was for eight boys basketball teams, according to Brewer.
This year the teams come from predominately American Indian teams from South Dakota and Nebraska.
“What we have now is grandparents who played in the early days of the invitational now watching their grandchildren play in the tournament,” says Brewer.
Brewer, who has been at the helm of the Lakota Nation Invitational, when asked how long why he keeps running the tournament, he says with a smile on his face he committed to do it for 50 years.
This year’s invitational runs through tomorrow.
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