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LNI Knowledge Bowl is a testament to the importance of education

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Student-athletes from all over Indian Country are competing in their respective sports, including basketball, at the Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City.

But LNI is not just about sports. Over the years it's evolved off the court to encompass the importance of education and Lakota language, culture and art. The LNI Knowledge Bowl tests students in a broad variety of topics such as math, science, English, Native American affairs and more.

McKayla Estes has been coordinating the LNI Knowledge Bowl for the past 10 years and is passionate about the importance of education in students' lives.

“You have to have education,” said Estes. “Sports can only take you so far, and so you have to have something to fall back on. Education is the key to success, is the key to anything you want. And I stress that a lot in my own household. I stress that a lot with my students that I work with. And not only that, it's something that no one can take from you. When you have that education and you go even to the doctorate level, nobody can take that. You did that yourself.”

The competition starts with individual written exams and then a team quiz bowl. Currently 18 schools are participating in the individual portion and 17 are doing the team quiz bowl, the highest-ever number of participants.

“It's great, I love running it every year,” said Estes. “Like I said, there's kids out there, even in the schools that the sports people get all the attention and everything. So it's good to see a tournament like this where they can shine as well. Or even if there is a basketball player that also has academic talents, too, this is their time to shine as well in that.”

There are individual winners, team winners and an overall winner from a school’s combined points from both competitions. Estes hopes to someday establish a scholarship opportunity for the Knowledge Bowl winners.

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