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Dakota Oyate Challenge 'excited' for debut in Mitchell

Jan. 23—MITCHELL — The Dakota Oyate Challenge isn't just a basketball tournament; it's a cultural showcase.

And for the first time in its 35-year history, the three-day event is coming to Mitchell, hosted Jan. 25-27 inside the Corn Palace.

Originally founded by a collection of Class B schools that were not a part of the eight-team Lakota Nation Invitational in 1989, the Dakota Oyate Challenge features activities such as boys and girls basketball tournaments with eight teams each in addition to competitions for archery and hand games (a traditional guessing game for students) to be hosted in the Palace Armory. On Friday, there's a grand entrance where all the teams competing are introduced, along with time for prayer and song.

"It's really a special time where we can all get together, and everybody is excited," said Silas Blaine, the DOC president and superintendent of the Wakpala School. "The Corn Palace is a great venue for basketball fans, and we're looking forward to the experience for our teams to go to a new city and meet new people."

This year marks the 35th annual boys basketball tournament and the 30th annual girls tournament, adding an extra layer of excitement to the eight schools set to descend on the Corn Palace — Crazy Horse, Flandreau Indian, Lower Brule, Marty, Omaha Nation (Neb.), Takini, Tiospaye Topa and Wakpala.

Lower Brule is the defending boys champion, while Omaha Nation (Neb.) won the girls tournament last season.

In the early editions of the event, Dakota Oyate Challenge hosting privileges moved from school to school. Starting in 2001, both boys and girls basketball tournaments were hosted at the Huron Arena, but in need of more hotel space, the DOC decided to move the event to Mitchell.

The basketball tournament is merely the start of the partnership between Mitchell and the Dakota Oyate Challenge. Plans are in the works for a volleyball tournament and cross country meet in 2024-25, also planned to be held in Mitchell.

In anticipation of the first edition of the event in a new city, Blaine — a founding member of the original event, then known as the All-Indian Tournament — noted the excellent weather forecast for the weekend and predicted it should allow for great attendance.

"We have dedicated fans from each community who show up for the tournament. That makes it exciting for the kids, and that's what keeps us going," Blaine said. "We should have some big crowds on the semifinal night and for the championships."

Thursday and Friday's action is slated to begin at 9 a.m., with games every 90 minutes until the final tipoff at 7:30 p.m. Saturday's schedule is bumped up one hour, with the girls championship set for 5 p.m. and the boys to follow at 6:30 p.m.

Dakota Oyate Challenge schedule

Thursday, Jan. 25 — at the Corn Palace

Girls

Omaha Nation (Neb.) (6-9) vs. Takini (0-7), 9 a.m.

Marty (6-2) vs. Crazy Horse (1-9), noon

Lower Brule (4-6) vs. Flandreau Indian (0-2), 3 p.m.

Wakpala (7-3) vs. Tiospaye Topa (5-5), 6 p.m.

Boys

Crazy Horse (7-4) vs. Flandreau Indian (0-4), 10:30 a.m.

Lower Brule (4-6) vs. Takini (4-4), 1:30 p.m.

Marty (3-4) vs. Tiospaye Topa (2-8), 4:30 p.m.

Omaha Nation (Neb.) (5-10) vs. Wakpala (5-5), 7:30 p.m.