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Lakota Tech makes history as first all Native dance team

Tim Tushla
South Dakota Public Broadcasting

The attached interview is from SDPB's daily public-affairs show, In the Moment.

Lakota Tech high school has made history this weekend at the state cheer and dance competition in Brandon, SD. Not only is this their first year as a school, but they have also become the first all-native cheer or dance team in history to compete at the state cheer and dance competition.

“It’s cool that we’re here our first year. Throughout this season, we’ve grown so much, and we’ve all developed,” explained Lakota Tech sophomore Briseis Janis. “We’ve developed friendships, we’ve developed skills, dance experience. It’s really cool to see what it’s doing for our reservation, on and off it. We’ve never had a team like this.”

Lakota Tech high school resides on the Pine Ridge Reservation, about seven miles outside of the town of Pine Ridge itself. Their head dance coach has taken her passion for the sport to become a leader in making this dream a reality.

“This preparation actually started in the spring, so that was kind of the overall goal. The inception of the team was kind of like a pipe dream. When I moved home to the reservation and there was nothing for my daughter to take part in – my daughter is a dancer and she had a dance team at her old high school,” Lakota Tech head dance coach Misty Mousseaux Begay . “I do have coaching experience as well as the teacher experience, so I took that opportunity and approached our school, our athletic director, and our principal at that time.”

Begay’s daughter Kanyen is on the Lakota Tech dance squad as a senior this season. Kanyen stated that she’s proud of what her mom has done.

“As a child you’re always going to be proud of your mom, no matter what she does. When I was little and dancing, I have family members, and they’ve never even seen this stuff before, outside of the traditional dances and stuff like that,” Kanyen Mousseaux Begay said. “I’m super proud of her for taking on the responsibility of saying “ok, I’m going to take this group of girls who’ve never danced before and I’m going to teach them this new thing that’s completely different, and I’m going to take them as far as I can.””

Kanyen’s mom also mentioned the challenge of starting up a new program.

“On the reservations, we don’t have jazz classes, we don’t have hip hop classes, we don’t have ballet, there’s nobody to teach you how to do anything like that. So our girls are definitely making their mark with what they’re doing. They’ve learned a boat load of skills and we’re here, they’ve made it,” an emotional Misty Mousseaux Begay exclaimed.

As challenging as it may have been to get things started, Lakota Tech did it. Not only have they made South Dakota history by becoming the first all-native cheer or dance team in history to compete at the state competition, but it could also lay the foundation for future programs to follow.

Nate Wek is currently the sports content producer and sports and rec beat reporter for South Dakota Public Broadcasting. He is a graduate of South Dakota State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism Broadcasting and a minor in Leadership. From 2010-2013 Nate was the Director of Gameday Media for the Sioux Falls Storm (Indoor Football League) football team. He also spent 2012 and 2013 as the News and Sports Director of KSDJ Radio in Brookings, SD. Nate, his wife Sarah, and two kids Braxan and Jordy, live in Canton, SD.