Cancellation of LNI leaves an adverse cultural and economic impact
The cancellation has an adverse impact on many levels, including a place for thousands to share cultural experiences.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — Due to the rising COVID-19 numbers in Pennington County and the reservations, on Friday, the Lakota Nation Invitational board voted to cancel all 2020 LNI events and basketball tournament.
Founder and Director of the LNI, Bryan Brewer, says canceling the LNI event was a hard decision but safety of all involved was the priority.
The cancellation has an adverse impact on many levels, including a place to share cultural opportunities.
“It’s the only event that brings everybody together, and it’s a fun time, it’s like a big family reunion, ya know, some people we only see once a year but we will see them here at the tournament,” Brewer said. “So it’s always a fun time and it’s more than just about basketball or any of our activities, it’s also a camaraderie, bringing people together, bringing the tribes together and it’s always a very positive time for all of our people.”
As far as the economic impact- Julie Jensen with Visit Rapid City says on a conservative level over $3 million to the Rapid City economy will be lost and that LNI is typically held in December right before Christmas and many event goers were purchasing gifts right here in Rapid City.
“It not only is going to impact our hotels and our restaurants and the Civic Center, but it is going to impact retail outlets because they really did a lot of Christmas shopping during that tournament,” Jensen said.
“It’s been sort of 2020 squared,” Jensen added. “The Civic Center has had so many amazing events that have had to cancel, the Black Hills Pow Wow was another one that devastated us, but all we can do is say ‘this is out of our hands, this is out of our control,’ our community is going to do our best to recover when it’s time to recover. We are going to continue to have safety messages with all of our marketing efforts and just hope that 2021, we come in rocking like crazy because we need to make up for it in ’21 if possible.”
The LNI Board is revving up for next year to make the event bigger and better than ever before in the new arena.
“We are going to be back, you know we are expanding everything next year, with this being (built), so we are going to add eight more basketball teams, we are adding more events for our children so it’s gonna be a big one, bigger than ever next year, so we are working on that right now,” Jensen said.
Brewer also mentioned that the mental health and well-being of the students should be a priority as well.