LNI economic impact estimated at $6 million
The numbers on the Lakota Nation Invitational’s regional impact show growth this year.
Saturday was the final day of the LNI and its associated tournaments, and founding members said the event continues to grow 42 years after its inception.
According to LNI Founder Bryan Brewer, the LNI’s 2018 economic impact is estimated to be around $6 million. This amount is roughly equal to the revenue generated in 2017, and nearly double that of 2014.
Additionally, over 3,000 students participated in the 2018 games – an increase from last year’s 2,500 entrants. The players come from all 9 state tribes, as well as from Montana, North Dakota and Wyoming.
Academic and cultural events rivaled the 32 boys and girls basketball teams this year. The Lakota Language Bowl and Lakota Hand Games each boasted around 50 teams.
Brewer attributed the Native American expo’s growth to their diverse selection of competitions.
“There’s something in it for everyone. We try to add new activities where more children can be involved,” Brewer said. “We had our chess tournament; we had a spelling bee … we’re trying to do more things where we can get our children out and showcase their talents.”
The LNI board is also interested in exploring opportunities that the third planned Rushmore Plaza Civic Center arena presents. They specifically expressed interest in having another space to host additional teams and sporting events.
“Right now, we use every room here. We can’t expand anymore, so we’re really hoping with [the new arena], not only would we grow with another 16 basketball teams, but we will be able to have other activities for the children,” Brewer added.