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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 28, 2002 - Issue 77


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Lakota Nation Invitational Not Only for Basketball

by Heidi Bell Gease Rapid City Journal Staff Writer
credits: Bryan Brewer, director of the Lakota Nation Invitational and principal of Pine Ridge High School, looks over some of the student-made arts and crafts in the LNI Art Show. (Steve McEnroe/Journal staff)
Bryan Brewer, director of the Lakota Nation Invitational and principal of Pine Ridge High School, looks over some of the student-made arts and crafts in the LNI Art Show. (Steve McEnroe/Journal staff) RAPID CITY, SD -- Brittny Has No Horse swam like a fish in a motel swimming pool. Marva Pretends Eagle finally got to see "Skins." And Robert Herman won his first-ever boxing match.

And all that went on in addition to Thursday's line-up of basketball games at the 26th annual Lakota Nation Invitational tournament.

The tournament draws thousands of fans to Rapid City each year, but they don't spend all their time at the basketball games. Many attend meetings and conferences held here at the same time. Most also try to finish their Christmas shopping and take in a movie or two. If you've been out and about here in the past few days, you've probably met up with a fan or two.

Hope Cross, a seventh-grade language-arts teacher at Little Wound School, is attending the Lakota Nation Indian Education Conference at Ramkota Hotel Best Western. On Thursday, she and husband Delane Has No Horse, spent lunchtime watching 9-year-old Brittny dive for quarters in the swimming pool while daughter Calsee, 10, spent time with her grandma.

"We thought we'd get the swimming out of her system for the day," Cross said, since they planned to watch Little Wound play that night. "I'm going to go root them on."

For them, like many, LNI is an annual event. Before the weekend is over, the family hopes to go out for some good lasagna, take in the lights at Storybook Island and do some shopping.

"Everyone looks forward to Lakota Nations," Cross said. "I think it's like a family thing. Everybody meets here."

Here's a tip from Has No Horse, who played for Little Wound in the 1980s: "If you need to find somebody (at LNI), just go to McDonald's."

The McDonald's in Wal-Mart was buzzing Thursday, as was the rest of the store. Dale Bear Saves Life of Oglala was taking advantage of a break in a tribal-housing workshop to do some holiday shopping. He also hoped to see a movie or two, especially the new "Lord of the Rings" installment.

Several blocks away, Marva and Leo Pretends Eagle sat in Stargate Theatre, waiting for the movie "Skins" to show at the first Rapid City showcase of the American Indian Film Festival.

The Native Voice newspaper is sponsoring the three-day festival, which runs through Saturday.

Marva Pretends Eagle, who works with the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Three Affiliated Tribes in New Town, N.D., is here for a Well Nations Conference. She was thrilled to find out that "Skins" - "which I've been dying to see since October" - was showing as well.

"I know my daughter's going to be very envious because I got to see this movie," she said. "She'll just have to wait until it comes out on video."

The couple also planned to attend some ball games and go shopping. Their son, who is 20, has been wanting some basketball shoes that go on sale today. "We'll be sitting at the mall an hour before it opens," Marva joked.

Kelly Lafferty may not have time to shop. As "team mom" for the Rosebud Boxing Club, she is busy taking care of 17 students who are here to box in the second LNI boxing tournament.

That includes everything from doctoring wounds to washing gym shorts to yelling encouragement from the sidelines.

And when she yells, they hear it.

"People hear me way before they see me," said Lafferty, whose festive Santa hat, jingle-bell earrings and holiday pins reflect her cheery, bubbly personality.

She will cheer for Todd County High School's basketball team, too, but boxing is top priority. "I just love boxing. We come up to kick butt," she said.

As many as 60 boxers, ages 8 to 18, practice at the Rosebud club. Some have boxed for years. Others, including Robert Herman, are new to the sport. Robert boxed his first match Thursday and won.

Lafferty's son, 11-year-old Tiny Man Lafferty, is among the boxers, but Lafferty considers them all her kids. "I chew them like I do my own," she said cheerfully. "It's really easy to box from this chair."

Down the hall at Rushmore Plaza Civic Center on Thursday, Cheyenne Eagle Butte and Little Wound were battling it out on the court.

Up in the stands, Crow Creek students were waiting for their team to take the court at 7 p.m. Sara Thompson, Lucy Kirkie and Anna Thompson were looking forward to shopping, eating out and seeing some movies.

So were Mary Wright and Kathryn Sazue, but for them, it's still about basketball. For Wright, the best part of LNI is simple: "Watching my team play."

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