At basketball tournament, the National Anthem means more in Lakota

Another installment in “why tournament time is the best time”:

At the South Dakota Boys Class A Basketball Tournament in Rapid City, S.D., on Friday night, Steven Wilson had the honor of singing the National Anthem. And those in attendance had the honor of hearing it.

He sang in the Lakota language.

I have never seen this before but I'm really glad I did. The Star-Spangled Banner sung in the Lakota language by Steven Wilson from Red Cloud. I am the PA Announcer at the South Dakota Boys Class A Basketball Tournament in Rapid City, SD. I handed Steven Wilson the mic and told him I wanted to record him. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard. I would love for the world to see this and have Steven sing it on a National stage, big league ball game or on Ellen DeGeneres's show.

Posted by Kevin Phillips on Friday, March 16, 2018

I’ve been singing the national anthem (in Lakota) for about three years now,” Wilson tells the Argus Leader. “Whenever it hits a bigger platform that wasn’t just a Native American audience, it shocked a lot of people. I feel like whenever I sing that song in Lakota, it has a bigger meaning behind it.”

“That song being sung in the Lakota language, it represents a lot more than I could even imagine to a lot of different people,” he said. “One of those is giving a voice to a nation, not just the Lakota, but all the Native Americans within the United States. That voice and that representation.”

“So many people had a positive response to (the song). For that, I’m really thankful. That was the whole idea behind the song is to represent the people, and it did just that. It’s about the people and about going out there and representing them, and for that I’m really thankful.”

There are only an estimated 6,000 people who speak the Lakota language.

  • Al

    I’ve never heard our anthem in Lakota before. How beautiful.

  • MrE85

    A nice reminder that we’re all living in Indian Country.

    • Mike Worcester

      Of the fifty states, South Dakota has the third highest percentage of indigenous peoples in their population. 9% as of 2016 (behind Alaska and New Mexico).

  • Guest

    It strikes me even more meaningful when spoken by a Native American.

  • Gary F

    Why was the arena almost empty?

    • X.A. Smith

      I believe Class A, in South Dakota, contains the smallest schools, because no one wants to be Class D. It’s AAAA, AAA, AA, A. It’s also possible that the schools competing are from 5-6 hours away from Rapid City.

    • KTFoley

      A brief Google search informs us that Class AA, A and B tournaments take place in separate cities on the same weekend. Eight teams came to Rapid City; six games had already been played before the Red Cloud/Crow Creek game.

    • Anonymous

      The arena is almost empty because South Dakota was experiencing a spring time blizzard and roads became treacherous for travel. Also whomever schedules games at noon time on a Friday, must compensate with low attendance. People must work and for those that received administrative leave, received it because of the bad road conditions. This game was also a part of the consolation tournament, and a two game series at noon and 1:45. SDSHAA has three classes AA, A, and B. All true that the tournaments take place in different cities in South Dakota on the same weekend.

  • Barton

    thanks for sharing. brought tears to my eyes while listening to it (the good and the sorrowful kind).

  • KTFoley

    The young man who sings out the national anthem and knows why it’s meaningful for him; the young woman who sits out the pledge of allegiance and knows why it’s not for her.

    These two people are both lights in the darkness.