Native American flute player and Hoop Dancer Kevin Locke died October 1, 2022 at the age of 68 on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota.  The cause of death is listed a natural causes.  His son Ohiyesá noted that he had been talking with his father via video just hours before his death; adding that his father had an asthma attack and died on the way to the hospital.  He had been performing at the Crazy Horse Memorial in the Black Hills when he became ill.

Locke is a two time Native American Music Awards winner and world renowned Hoop Dancer.  He was also a gifted storyteller and educator.

For over 40 years Locke traveled around the world sharing his love of music and dance.  But it was teaching the children on the reservation where he found his greatest joy.

Born Tokaheya Inajin ( First to Rise” on June 23, 1954 in southern California of Lakota and Anishnabe heritage, he moved to Standing Rock with his family when he was five years old where with the help of family and elders, the youngster learned the traditions, culture, and language of the Lakota Sioux Nation. 

Locke recorded over a dozen albums in his career.  His album “First Flute” was recorded outside on the Standing Rock Reservation at Sitting Bull’s camp.  Along with the sounds of Locke’s flute floating through the air, the album features the sounds of the outdoors – bird chirping, wind wisping, and waters flowing.

A traditional Hoop Dancer uses numerous hoops during a performance; Locke used 28 wooden hoops when he danced.  Speaking on his performances Lock said, “I see myself strictly as a preservationist. I base my repertoire on the old songs. I try to show younger people what was there, and maybe some of the younger people will pick up from there and compose new music.”

More than just a preservationist, Locke was a cultural ambassador who performed at the 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil and spoke and performed before the United Nations Habitat II 1996 conference in Turkey.

Along with his two Native American Music Awards Locke was presented with the National Endowment for the Arts Nation Heritage Fellowship and the Busch Foundation Enduring Vision Award.

Locke is survived by his wife Ceylan Isgor, children – Patricia, Waniya, Ohiyesa, and Kimimila -, grandchildren – Omaste, Ozela, Sienna, Omani, Breanna, Woksape, KyaSue, Wanikiya, Amaya, Ohitika, and Anpa’o -, siblings – Charles, Connie, Carla, Winona, and Jana.

feature photo credit: 2016 RVA Folk Fest Kevin Locke.jpg