Published on February 26, 2013 by Casey
Kevin Locke (Lakota name: Tȟokéya Inážiŋ, meaning “The First to Arise”) is Lakota (Hunkpapa band) and Anishinaabe. He is a preeminent player of the Native American flute, a traditional storyteller, cultural ambassador, recording artist and educator. He is most known for his hoop dance, The Hoop of Life.
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Born in 1954 in Southern California, at five years old Locke moved north with his family, later to settle in South Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation in 1966. It was from his mother, Patricia Locke, his uncle Abraham End-of-Horn, mentor Joe Rock Boy, and many other elders and relatives that Kevin received training in the values, traditions and language of his native Sioux culture.
He is frequently cited as an ambassador of Native American culture to the United States and the world. He has also been active on the board of directors of the Lakota Language Consortium – a non-profit organization working towards the Lakota language revitalization.
He attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico for high school and earned a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of South Dakota. He taught himself to speak Lakota, his ancestral language, as a young adult. Mr. Locke learned the hoop dance, which had nearly died out, from Arlo Good Bear, a Mandan Hidatsa Indian from North Dakota.
Since 1978, he has traveled to more than 80 countries to perform. Locke has served as cultural ambassador for the United States Information Service since 1980, was a delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil and was a featured performer and speaker at the 1996 United Nations Habitat II Conference in Turkey. He has recorded twelve albums beginning in 1982, and is an active member of the Bahá’í Faith.
In 1990, he won a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest award granted to such traditional artists. In 2009 he won the $100,000 Bush Foundation Award.
Mr. Locke comes from a distinguished family. His great-great-grandfather was the famous Dakota patriot, Little Crow. His great-grandmother, Mniyáta Ožáŋžaŋ Wiŋ, was a renowned medicine woman. His mother, Patricia Locke, was an activist for Indian rights and recognition.
When recently asked about his mission in life his said: “All of the people have the same impulses, spirits, and goals. Through my music and dance, I want to create a positive awareness of oneness of humanity.”