Delphine Red Shirt: Tournament is a testament to our talented Native youth

The boys basketball team from Red Cloud Indian School on the court before the final December 17, 2016, game of the 40th annual Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City, South Dakota. Photo: Red Cloud Indian School

Thoughts Post-LNI
By Delphine Red Shirt
Lakota Country Times Columnist

The 40th annual Lakota Nation Invitational highpoint was the grand entry on Friday night; of the parade of athletes representing their respective schools. What made me even more proud was the team from Red Cloud, a school my brother and I attended and graduated from.

The Red Cloud team stood patiently along with all of the teams present; as veterans and others were being honored. When it was their turn they marched in as one of the last few teams to enter the arena. To me, the Red Cloud team stood out in the way they carried themselves. It's something I have observed with the best college or university athletic teams. They represent their schools so of course others will judge them as a unit: like a family.

Over the years I have come to view the place where Red Cloud is buried, as home, and the school as family. What was Red Cloud, whose family, I am related to through his maternal side, from his aunt; what was his connection to the Catholics who built and still maintain the school?

Beginning in 1875, Red Cloud asked for Catholic missionaries. In 1877, in a meeting with then, President Hayes, Red Cloud asked for "school teachers" for a "good school house." Because he wanted his children to "write and read". He later in 1878, wanted Catholic priests to teach the Lakota to "read and write English."

Today, it is Red Cloud's discerning vision in the late nineteenth century that leads us to the twenty-first century in a good way generally. To that moment on Friday, December 16th, at approximately 6:52 pm, when the students walked confidently into the arena at LNI; and I took out my camera and recorded the moment.

Most Native American students today embrace two worlds whether they know it or not: infused in the English they speak are Lakota ways. Like honoring parades, honoring songs, hope in the seventh generation, and athleticism. It was how we survived for thousands of years: as a strong people who were physically able to compete against all odds.

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LNI is a testimony to the talent inherent in all the youth who came and participated: every effort counted. All the teams present showed great promise. Now, if only we could get the media coverage these kids needed so that college and university recruiters could see or read about their talent. At the end of the tournament I picked up the local mainstream newspaper to read some highlights of the games but saw nothing. A glaring oversight I'm sure since the mayor announced that Rapid City welcomed all of us who came to LNI: next year let's hope the local newspaper covers LNI comprehensively.

(Delphine Red Shirt can be reached at

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