Native Sun News: Lakota Nation Invitational stays put in Rapid

The following story was written and reported by Richie Richards, Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Bryan Brewer addresses the Rapid City Human Relations Commission as Mayor Sam Kooiker looks on. Photo by Richie Richards

LNI vows to stay in Rapid City
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY –– The Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) tournament brings millions of dollars into Rapid City each December. Despite the rash of racism recently at the host facility, the LNI board confirms they will not leave the Civic Center any time soon.

The tournament brings more than 2,500 students and their fans to Rapid City for five days of action-packed excitement and educational programming held in multiple venues across the city.

On Feb. 11, the Human Relations Commission (HRC) called a special meeting to discuss race relations and reconciliation. In attendance; Mayor Sam Kooiker, Carol Russo – U.S. Department of Justice, Bryan Brewer – Director of LNI, and concerned citizens of Rapid City.

During this special session, Brewer spoke to the HRC saying, “I’m disheartened by listening to this group. You keep speaking of what you can’t do. But we can’t keep making excuses. You know what happened there.”

Brewer was referring to the jurisdiction of the HRC; which currently does not include city, state, or federal institutions. The Rushmore Plaza Civic Center is run by the City of Rapid City. Brewer’s frustration over the lack of progress into the investigation of the Rush Hockey game assault, in which 57 Native American children were the victims of racial taunts and physical violence, is shared by many.

The same morning, the LNI Board met at the United Tribes Technical College to discuss the possibility of taking LNI to another city in the state. There has been encouragement to leave by activists who wish for LNI to take those millions of dollars in revenue to another city.

Native Sun News attended the meeting at UTTC. The LNI Board recognizes and realizes the role this event plays in the area and they are fully aware of the economic impact on this city. As board members voiced their concerns of leaving, they collectively agree that leaving is not in the best interest of LNI nor of the race relations and reconciliation efforts.

“I really believe the Lakota Nation Invitational needs to get involved with what’s happening with our children,” continued Brewer, “We have so many resources; educators, doctors, superintendents. We can help to make things better here. If our Native children aren’t safe, families won’t want to send their children up here.”

The LNI Board wants to set an example for their community. They agreed that leaving would not teach the children and families how to cope and deal with adversity and life’s challenges.

“This is our Black Hills. We should stay here and not run,” proclaims Brewer. “We have the potential to make a difference.”

The LNI Board discussed their long history in Rapid City and the racism they’ve already overcome to continue this event; including racial taunts and the days when the sheriff’s department used to come to the games and do warrant checks on fans.

The Lakota Nation Invitational has a 38-year history in Rapid City. This event is the standard by which similar tournaments strive to achieve. LNI became an “invitational” during the reconciliation efforts of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. This inclusive ideology is what makes relations strong in the area and is respected by everyone.

Racism in South Dakota is statewide and regionally apparent. Taking millions of dollars in revenue to another city will not end racism. This will teach the youth to run and not stand and fight for what is right.

The LNI Board members should be commended for their brave stance against racism.

(Contact Richie Richards at

Copyright permission Native Sun News

Join the Conversation