Thursday, December 16, 2010
The Lakota Nations Invitational in Rapid City started out as a basketball tournement 34 years ago. Most of the Indian Schools in the state are represented, and a few other teams round out the field. But, it has grown into much more of an event, to include Lakota language games, a juried art show to showcase the talents of the next generation of artists, a Lakota Hand Games competition, socials, dances and a Knowledge Bowl. To encourage learning, there are also individual tests in each of the regular High School subjects.
We don’t have our own High School at St. Joseph’s, but we do field a team in the Knowledge Bowl, and five of our students made the trek last night. I set off early this morning and drove the 200 miles to Rapid City. I arrived just in time for our first match. We faced Cheyenne Eagle Butte, where I was pastor for 10 years. Children I knew as babies were now lined up on the team against us. I also recognized all of the judges and officials, since they were from Lower Brule, where I also served.
By day’s end, we had won three matches and lost one. With double elimination, the field has been narrowed from 15 to 6 and we’re still going. Architecture was our best category, followed by a strong showing in Children’s Literature, Precipitation and National Parks.
The students had heard the Olive Garden is a nice restaurant and were wondering if they might be able to have a meal there. When facing elimination in the 3rd match, I told them if they won we could go there – but joked that if they lost I’d buy a loaf of bread and some peanut butter. The laughter broke the tension, and between the incentive and what they had studied, they won! They enjoyed getting to eat out at a nice restaurant. We’ll keep going in the competition tomorrow.