RAPID CITY, S.D. – The Lakota Nation Invitational is most often thought of as a basketball tournament, but the gathering of communities (many of them Native) has created a chance for cultures to be shared and celebrated.
Taking place off the court on December 16 was a knowledge bowl, language bowl, hand games, e-sports, art shows, and a poetry slam.
Actor Zahn McClarnon helped out with a poetry workshop, bringing in his talents and experience in representing his roots in shows like Longmire and Reservation Dogs.
“To be around your own people, expressing yourself, seeing that you can relate to one another, it opens up a lot of doors,” he says.
Youth attending the LNI had the opportunity to draw from McClarnon’s experiences in a workshop, where they learned about finding creative outlets.
“Writing something down on a piece of paper….in black and white is a great way to express yourself, a great release,” he adds.
The art show was also a big focus of the events taking place in The Monument side of the complex today. Tashina Red Hawk described what went into her traditional piece that won an award.
“I cut out my little leather ties, I kind of positioned everything where I wanted it and I just tied it together. Then I ended off with tying the back and adding these little fringes and tassels for decoration,” she explains.
Beadwork and ledger art joined paintings and pastels, so old and new worlds collided in the conference rooms.
“Throughout life, I’ve always tried to be a bridge, because I believe in the best of both worlds,” says Red Hawk. “I grew up on a ranch, so I have a strong western heritage, but I also grew up with my Lakota blood.”
Events and games continue through December 18.