October 1, 2022- He once held court, while sitting up in the fold-out bed at our home in Jeddito, Arizona. It was the mid-1990s, and things were fairly good. Tokaya Inajin, better known as Kevin Locke, was succeeding in popularizing hoop dancing, and making the meaning behind the art form clear to all who attended his performances.
He was also a fine singer, a true champion of the Lakota Sioux people, from whom he emerged. Yet, he eschewed violence and saw fit to reach out to all people, reminding everyone that the four colours of humanity were equal before the Creator. His take, like mine, was that no one be excluded, even if they themselves sought to exclude. It was a learning process, which involved a fair amount of unlearning.
Tokaya Inajin, “The First to Arise”, in Lakota, was as proud of his mainstream name and activities, as he was of being part of a First Nation. He embraced a variety of musical styles, following in the footsteps of other First Nations musicians whom he admired, but staying true to the message that his mother’s people had a central part to play in stewardship of the Earth. To that end, illustrating the Hoop of Life was his central muse.
Kevin left us, yesterday, to join the spirits who watch over those still engaged in the work of that stewardship. His presence here was a blessing, from start to finish.
Here is an example of his work, from a visit he made to the Miccosukee Nation.