RAPID CITY, S.D. – A record number of teams equals more people visiting Rapid City this week, for the return of the Lakota Nation Invitational.
Student athletes on Tuesday night were given the red carpet treatment as they helped kick off the annual event.
A total of 48 high school basketball teams from around the state are competing this year: 24 boys teams and 24 girls teams. And while one of the bigger draws is basketball, there are also art exhibitions along with events and competitions centered around Lakota culture.
All of it is happening this week at The Monument.
“This has become really one of our biggest events, is this red carpet welcoming. It really has. People look forward to that, and the kids do too,” Lakota Nation Invitational Board of Directors Chuck Wilson said. “It’s very important for them to be recognized and know that they’re being appreciated.”
LNI was cancelled last year due to the pandemic, with many missing the event. But after the long wait, everyone was brimming with excitement as the athletes paraded in.
“People just missed it, especially the kids. And a lot of our kids that were here did not play any kind of sports last year. They were all online,” Wilson explained. “So, this is doubly a good time for them. Because they’ve been looking forward to this for two years now. So yeah, it’s huge. It’s going to be a huge tournament.”
Competitions and exhibitions begin December 15, and continue on through Sunday.