Since 1976, the Lakota Nation Invitational has been the top high school basketball invitational in South Dakota. What started as purely a basketball event, the LNI now consists of everything from cultural and academic events to a multiple arts and crafts competitions as well. The action on the court, though, still drives fans, players, and schools to Rapid City each December for this annual event.

News: Dec 7 - 13

Dec 13, 2019

In this week’s South Dakota news, a civil trial at the Aberdeen federal courthouse challenges the implementation of HB 1094, and reports from counties in Minnesota and North Dakota show communities divided over refugee resettlement. Is the quarrel soon coming to South Dakota?

Officials Preparing For 43rd LNI

Dec 12, 2019
Chynna Lockett

The Lakota Nation Invitational holds sports meets year round, but the biggest event is in December. The annual winter LNI brings thousands of people to Rapid City to celebrate athletics, knowledge and art.

The event this month includes basketball games, wrestling matches and cheerleading competitions as part of the 43rd Lakota Nation Invitational. Last year, the sporting events brought in more than 27- thousand people. But thousands more showed up for other free events that reflect a wide range of interests. Chuck Wilson is the President of the LNI. 

Chynna Lockett

In The Moment ... December 12, 2018 Show 478 Hour 2

The Lakota Nation Invitational is now in its fourth decade. This year, Rapid City businesses showed up in unprecedented numbers to participate in the corporate handgames tournament.

Mniluzahan Okolakiciyapi Ambassadors Whitney Rencountre and Karen Mortimer join us to explain. Also with us is Julie Schmitz Jensen, president and CEO of Visit Rapid City.

Russian Visitors Learn From LNI

Dec 17, 2018

A group of people from Russia attended this year’s Lakota Nation Invitational in Rapid City. They learned how the event hosts tournaments, showcases indigenous culture and even new games to bring back home.

Some of the group of Russian people work in indigenous communities back home. They shared parts of their culture and met with local Native Americans to learn about tribes in South Dakota.

Local Businesses Join Hand Games At LNI

Dec 17, 2018

Hand Games are traditional games historically played by many Native American tribes across the country. There’s a competition at the LNI for hand games passed down through South Dakota tribes-And for the second year in a row, local business are invited to play along.

Whitney Rencountre is with the Ateyapi youth mentoring program in Rapid City. He says Hand Games teach aren’t just for entertainment.

LNI Bear Jamboree Entertains Kids With STEAM

Dec 17, 2018

The Lakota Nation Invitational, or LNI, offers entertainment for kids of all ages. One event, the Bear Jamboree, teaches young children about STEAM, or science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Volunteers set up tables behind a basketball game for the 16th annual Bear Jamboree. The event is popular with kids who come to play games, get candy and see Santa Clause make his stop at the LNI. This year, some of the activities don’t just entertain-they get educational.

LNI Cheerleaders Team With SDSMT Squad

Dec 13, 2018
Chynna Lockett

Eighteen cheerleading squads are teaming together to perform an opening dance during the Lakota Nation Invitational. The students had three hours to learn a group routine this year. The South Dakota School of Mines and Technology cheer team helped prepped the high schoolers and are joining in their performance.

One Hundred and thirty cheerleaders are practicing for the pre-cheer competition dance.

Seven School of Mines cheerleaders volunteered to choregraph the performance. They count steps and help hold high schoolers in in the air.

Check And Mate At LNI Chess Tournament

Dec 12, 2018

Chess Players are showing off their skills Lakota Nation Innovational, or LNI. Twelve teams from across South Dakota are competing for the third year in a row.

Chess teams from each school have about five players in the tournament.

Miskoo Petite Sr. is the LNI Chess Coordinator. He’s been encouraging students to get involved with chess-sometimes comparing the game to popular video games like Fortnight.

LNI Incorporates Lakota Language Competition

Dec 12, 2018

More than 150 kids, coaches and parents met at the Rushmore Civic Center Wednesday morning for the Lakota Language Bowl. The competition is part of he annual Lakota Nation Invitational.  It includes students from kindergarten through high school speaking Lakota and Dakota.

The first contest of the day features videos of students from different schools speaking Lakota and Dakota. There are 41 teams this year from all over the state, and some from North Dakota. 

Kellee Brewer is the Lakota Nation Invitational Language Bowl Coordinator.

LNI Kicks Off With Red Carpet Welcome

Dec 12, 2018

The 42nd annual Lakota Nation Invitational starts in Rapid City Wednesday. Student and coaches were greeted by business leaders and family members in Rapid City during a red carpet welcome.

Buses of Lakota Nation Invitational, or LNI participants were escorted to the Civic Center by Rapid City the Police, Sheriff’s and Fire departments. They walked down a long red carpet and gave high fives to fans.

Julie Schmitz Jensen is the President & CEO of Visit Rapid City. She helps organize the red carpet welcome.

LNI Considers Move Out Of Rapid City

Mar 11, 2015

The director of the Lakota Nation Invitational says the board is considering moving the event out of Rapid City to Sioux Falls or even Bismarck.

The “L.N.I.” as it’s often called started as a basketball tournament in Rapid City in the 1970’s.  Today it’s grown into a major event with an economic impact measured in the millions.   

But as SDPB’s Charles Michael Ray reports tense race relations in Rapid City after an incident at the local Civic Center prompted calls for a move.

You can hear the full story by clicking play below.