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The Lakota Nation Invitational’s economic impact

The event brings together young indigenous basketball players for a tournament and many others...
The event brings together young indigenous basketball players for a tournament and many others into Rapid City.(Nick Nelson)
Published: Dec. 15, 2021 at 5:43 PM MST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Wednesday was the first full day of the 44th Lakota Nation Invitational.

The event brings together young indigenous basketball players for a tournament and many others into Rapid City.

What began four decades ago as a simple basketball tournament, is now a Native American cultural Touchstone. The Lakota Nation Invitational Tournament is being held through Saturday and features teams from all over the region.

Last year, the tournament was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Elevate Rapid City CEO Tom Johnson said that the absence could be felt in the city’s economy.

“If you just look at the Native American communities that come to Rapid City during the entire year, it’s about a hundred million dollars of spending in our economy and probably represents about 1,500 jobs,” Johnson said. “So, it’s a big deal for this economy. "

After a year with lost revenue, and without basketball and other cultural events, both Johnson, and Mayor Steve Allender say that they’re happy that the LNI is back in Rapid City.

Allender spoke with the student-athletes at the Red-Carpet event Tuesday and expressed his appreciation for the event and the participation of the youth.

“As I pointed out to the students, everyone who comes here this week is coming here because of you,” Allender said. “So, this is their time to shine. They’ve worked up to this moment to be a part of this tournament. I think it’s extremely important for basketball, but also the sharing of those cultural experiences.”

Along with the tournament, many indigenous vendors set up shop in The Monument to sell their goods.

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