Kevin Locke


Traditional Lakota and Baha’i Services for 68-year old Kevin Locke  will be held Friday, October 7, 2022, at 10:00 at the Eagle’s Landing Lodge west of Custer, SD.

A traditional meal will follow the services at the Lodge.

Burial will be that afternoon at 2:30 at Bell Park Cemetery near Rochford, SD.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Patricia Locke Foundation at

Kevin Locke (Lakota name: Tȟokéya Inážiŋ, meaning “The First to Arise”) was Lakota (Hunkpapa band) and Anishinaabe. He was born June 23, 1954, and passed on September 30

Mr Locke was a preeminent player of the North American Indigenous flute, a traditional storyteller, cultural ambassador, recording artist, fluent Lakota language and Indigenous sign language speaker, and educator. He was most known for his hoop dance, The Hoop of Life.

Born in 1954 in Southern California, Locke moved north with his family at the age of 5, 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 Lakota culture. He was frequently cited as an ambassador of Native American culture to the United States and the world.

Mr Locke 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. 

As a young adult, he taught himself to speak Lakota, his ancestral language, and learned the hoop dance, which had nearly died out, from Arlo Good Bear, a Mandan Hidatsa Indian from North Dakota. In later years, he served on the board of the Lakota Language Consortium and on the advisory board of the World Flute Society. 

Beginning in 1978, Mr Locke performed in more than 90 countries, including recent appearances at the Malaysia Rainforest Festival (2018), 9th International Sefika Kutluer Festival: East Meets West in Ankara Turkey (2018), Arte Dule Indigenous Festival in Panama City, Panama (2019) and public concerts in Winterthur and Nonam Museum in Zurich, Switzerland (2020). 

He became a cultural ambassador for the United States Information Service in 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.

In 1990, he won a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the highest award granted to such traditional artists. In 2020, he was awarded the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship. 

Mr Locke founded the Patricia Locke Foundation, named after his late mother Patricia Ann Locke, which has the mission to provide educational opportunities for underserved children and youth. He served as its president and creative director until his passing, developing a beginner level Indigenous flute song collection and an online cultural and traditional arts education library geared towards K-12 classrooms.

Mr. Locke was an active member of the Baha’i Faith and used folk arts to emphasize universal themes that are integral to all peoples. Universality of human spirit, its inclination towards peace, balance, harmony, and a longing that all human beings have for the Divine Springtime are a few central themes that he displayed in his hoop dance, which is essentially a prayer for the unification of all mankind. 

Using his folk arts as a vehicle, Locke shared this prayer with children and adults alike, ranging from 50 to 55,000 people at a time. Even though he has performed in many prestigious venues to innumerable dignitaries such as Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama, his favorite audience continued to be children and youth. 

When recently asked about his mission in life he 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.”

Mr. Locke is survived by his wife, Ceylan Isgor; his children, Patricia Hupahu Locke; Waniya Locke; Ohiyesá Locke; Kimimila Locke; his grandchildren, Omaśte Locke; Oželá Locke; Sienna Cordova; Omani Locke; Breanna Cordova; Wóksape Locke; KyaSue Locke; Wanikiya Locke; Amaya Locke; Ohitika Locke; Anpa’o Locke; his brother, Charles Locke; his sisters, Connie Zupan; Carla Peterson; Winona Flying Earth and Jana Locke.

Arrangements have been placed under the local care of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Custer, SD.

1 thought on “Kevin Locke”

  1. Our Baha’i community of Fort Wayne, IN was blessed with many visits by Kevin over the years when he served as the artist-in-residence of the Festival of Arts and Music in Education (FAME). FAME sent him to many schools during his week-long visit. He was also eager to hold a public event in the evening to speak to whoever came about our Faith and to fascinate all of us with his flute and hoop dance! We miss you already, Kevin, and love you forever!

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