LNI considering move due to racial tensions in Rapid City

LNILOGO

Leaders of the Lakota Nation Invitational (LNI) are discussing a possible move out of Rapid City, South Dakota. Talk stems from the racism displayed against Native children at a recent hockey game within the city’s Rushmore Plaza Civic Center.

The Lakota Nation Invitational is an annual four-day basketball tournament put on by Natives for Natives. Aside from basketball, competitions are held for volleyball, wrestling, archery, academics, and games unique to Lakota culture. Powwows and arts showcases further the event’s impact.

LNI generally brings in around $6 million to the local economy. In 2014, over three thousand students participated.

Those in favor of the move say attracting people and profits to the city is ill advised while racism against Natives clearly exists in the local sports scene–especially considering the measly charge of “disorderly conduct” enacted against a single perpetrator of January’s incident. Many are dissatisfied with the city’s handling of the hate crime and concerned for the safety of young LNI participants.

“I don’t want to totally abandon our relatives living in Rapid City but with the recent incidents in the city we are going to start looking at other options,” stated tournament director and former Oglala Sioux Tribal President Bryan Brewer, who has reached out to officials in other South Dakota locales such as Sioux Falls.

Brewer says racial disparities in Rapid City reach far beyond isolated incidents. Problems such as mistreatment from law enforcement and a lack of outreach to Natives on the part of local government contribute to the push for a new home base.

Rapid City Mayor Sam Kooiker remains strongly opposed to moving the event, “Blaming the entire community for this situation misses the point that there are many people here in this community that support reconciliation and have a heart for addressing racial issues.”

Note: the prospect of moving is not exactly an act of “blame”, rather, a reaction to a very real threat against the people this event strives to honor.

LNI’s 38 year home in Rapid City does have positive aspects. Many reservations exist just outside of the city, making for affordable travels to and from the event. Accessibility is key in a celebration that values inclusion. Additionally, the event livens up the local area and brings about awareness by highlighting cultural heritage on a large scale.

Whether or not the Lakota Nation Invitational moves, racism towards Native Americans within South Dakota and the rest of the country must be seriously addressed. Violence and disrespect threaten Natives just outside of their front doors. It is disheartening to see yet another Lakota spectacle hindered by ignorance and due time to eliminate the need for these kinds of decisions to be faced in the first place.

Is this a necessary step to pushing local attention towards Rapid City’s racial issues and protecting the spirit of the gathering? Let us know what you think–should the Lakota Nation Invitational stay in Rapid City, or move forward in search of a new host city?

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9 thoughts on “LNI considering move due to racial tensions in Rapid City”

  1. the Lakota Nation Invitational should move forward in search of a new host city? The Mayor is ignoring the fact that the Indigenous people are going through racial disparities other than this one incident. It’s time LNI move to a more friendly host and atmosphere. I would recommend Pierre, the capitol of South Dakota.

  2. The LNI should continue with their search of a new host city. It is obvious that the mayor wants the LNI to stay in Rapid City because it brings in nearly $3 million in revenue for the city. If that mayor wants to label the January incident as ‘disorderly conduct’ then he can suffer the blow of losing the LNI in order to keep native children safe, because he clearly isn’t going to.

  3. The LNI should continue with their search of a new host city. It is obvious that the mayor wants the LNI to stay in Rapid City because it brings in nearly $3 million in revenue for the city. If that mayor wants to label the January incident as ‘disorderly conduct’ then he can suffer the blow of losing the LNI in order to keep native children safe, because he clearly isn’t going to.

  4. I think taking an action to affect the city’s revenue is a great idea. Unfortunately, revenue and not justice or ethics tends to drive where priorities are placed.
    Having said that though, the decision to move to another location should be balanced with how many might be hindered from participating because of distance.

  5. Move LNI and make a statement. Do what’s best for the Lakota people. Safety and security should be top priority.

  6. I am saddened to read this. Racism should not exist and would not exist if every loving good person would stand to stop it. Stand your ground and inform the millions of citizens in this country of these crimes against humanity. I will stand with you. Peace and love

  7. I’m sorry it has come to this but agree you have to do what’s best for the Lakota people. Don’t stay and be used by the city to profit. Racism should not be exist for any race of peoples.

  8. Boycott those who do not respect you and celebrate your children. If Rapid City is indeed near reservations and the people who come spend 3 million dollars, then hold it on a reservation, even if the facilities are not quite so fancy. Then use the income to improve the facilities little by little. Make sure this gets NATIONAL attention! This is no different than the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Have people write to newspapers in all the major cities. Work to get on local news programs. Maybe it will get picked up by National News. There are many, many people out there who will support you. Put up a Go Fund Me account and publicize that. Many of us will support you. We just don’t know how. I am 74 years old, but would make a donation if I was sure the organization wanting to improve things for Lakota people and for LNI was legitimate.

  9. My wish is too see a really Indian reservation i love native American history you are the real American white people forgot that yes there is racial problems i don’t know why my daughter is half native from tewa new mexico san juan pueblo i love crazy horse sitting bull history Thank you let me be part of your history i want my grandkids too know they apart of native Americans I’m very proud that my daughter is native tewa thank you

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