Kevin Locke (musician)

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First to Awaken, A wet plate collodion photograph of Kevin Locke

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.


Born in 1954 in Southern California, at the age of five years 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.[1]

Since 1978, he has traveled to more than 80 countries to perform[1][2] and has continued to perform such as September 2014[3] and most recently as March 2016.[citation needed]

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.[4] In 2009 he won the $100,000 Bush Foundation Award.

Mr. Locke is on the advisory board of the World Flute Society.

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."[5]



Since 1982, Kevin has recorded 13 albums of music and stories, including:

  • Dream Catcher as Tokeya Inajin (July 13, 1993)
  • Keepers of the Dream ( June 27, 1995)
  • Love Songs of the Lakota (September 29, 1995)
  • The Flood and Other Lakota Stories (The Parabola Storytime Series) Harper Audio (March 1996)
  • The Flash in the Mirror (April 2, 1996)
  • Open Circle (Oct 15, 1996)
  • The First Flute (July 27, 1999) — won the Native American Music Award for Best Traditional Recording.
  • Midnight Strong Heart (January 1, 2003)


  • Lakota Hoop Dancer, with Suzanne Haldane and Jacqueline Left Hand Bull, Dutton Juvenile; 1st edition (May 1, 1999).[6]
  • Real Dakota! : About Dakota by Dakotans! : The life, people & history of the Dakotas by the people who know and love it! by Kevin Locke, Tempe, AZ : Blue Bird Pub., 1988.


  • Songkeepers (1999, 48 min.). Directed by Bob Hercules and Bob Jackson. Produced by Dan King. Lake Forest, Illinois: America's Flute Productions. Five distinguished traditional flute artists - Tom Mauchahty-Ware, Sonny Nevaquaya, R. Carlos Nakai, Hawk Littlejohn, Kevin Locke – talk about their instrument and their songs and the role of the flute and its music in their tribes.[7]


Further reading[edit]

Pauline Tuttle (2001). ""Beyond Feathers and Beads" - Interlocking Narratives in the Music and Dance of Tokeya Inahim (Kevin Locke)". In Carter Jones Meyer; Diana Royer. Selling the Indian: Commercializing & Appropriating American Indian Cultures. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-2148-7. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b One Country Volume 8, Issue 2 July-September 1996
  2. ^ "Hoop of Life: Lakota Stories of the Nobility of the Human Spirit" Kevin Locke CD World Premiere, China Millennium Council
  3. ^ Students Learn Native American Culture at the Belle, KFYR-TV News, By TaTiana Cash, Sep 05, 2014 12:39 AM EDT
  4. ^ National Endowment for the Arts Awards List
  5. ^ Kevin Locke Elevating Human Spirit Through Music and Dance,, by Tish Leizens, Dec 16, 2012
  6. ^ "Work by Jacqueline Left Hand Bull". Publications, Alumni Writers. Evergreen State College. Retrieved 2012-11-09. 
  7. ^ Joyce-Grendahl, Kathleen. "Songkeepers: A Video Review". Suffolk: International Native American Flute Association. Archived from the original on 2010-08-12. Retrieved 2010-08-13.  And: National Museum of the American Indian screening at the Wayback Machine (archived September 1, 2006).

External links[edit]