The Cheyenne-Eagle Butte Braves hand game team took first place at the 2018 Battle in The Hills Youth Hand Game Tournament on Friday, October 5, in Rapid City. The annual tournament took place at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center during the Black Hills Powwow.
According to Lakota language teacher and team coach Dewey Bad Warrior, during the final game of the championship round, the C-EB team faced a major deficit and had only two sticks left in their possession. But Bad Warrior said the team rallied together and with the help and encouragement of team captain Kailoni Johnson, they were able to bounce back and win the game and championship title.
This year the team is an all-girl team and they said they were very proud of the fact that they were the only team at the tournament who wore ribbon skirts. Team members vary in age and experience, with some as young as nine years old.
“The young ones won the game for us. They’re really into it. Our captain really helped bring the girls up when they were losing. It took all of them working together and doing teamwork,” said Bad Warrior.
The team will start practice next week and they already have their eyes on the upcoming Lakota National Invitational, which will take place in December.
Bad Warrior said the success of the team is in part to the support they have from the school principal Mrs. Peterson, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and the school cooks who prepare lunch and snacks for away games.
“These girls are so dedicated. They eat breakfast and snacks throughout the day. Sometimes they don’t eat dinner until after the tournament is over. They are always prepared and waiting for their team to be called. That is how dedicated they are,” said Bad Warrior.