Acclaimed Native American musician, dancer, cultural ambassador,and educator Kevin Locke died Friday night in the Black HIlls. Locke was 68.
His son says Locke, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, suffered a fatal asthma attack in his hotel room in Hill City after performing at the Crazy Horse Memorial near Custer.
Best-known for his music on the Northern Plains flute and as a hoop dancer, Locke performed to hundreds of thousands of people at performing art centers, universities, schools, parks, and powwows in more than 90 countries.
Locke had performed in this area many times over the years, including at Chadron State College and Wind Cave National Park.
Locke once wrote on his website “Through my music and dance, I want to create a positive awareness of the Oneness of humanity” as he used his talents to teach others about Native American history.
He especially enjoyed working with children on reservations to ensure the survival and growth of indigenous culture.
A fluent speaker of Lakota, he was a board member of the Lakota Language Consortium, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the language.
After learning of his death, the Native American Music Awards issued a statement saying “Kevin Locke was undoubtedly one of the greatest flutists, hoop dancers and teachers the world had ever seen,” adding that he will be greatly missed.”
Locke developed his musical and dance talents from a young age and attended high school at the Institute of American Indian Arts in New Mexico.
He went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Dakota and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Dakota.
Locke recorded his first album in 1982 and eventually released 12 albums of music and stories, most recently “The First Flute,” “Open Circle,” “Keepers of the Dream,” and “Dream Catcher.”