Home > Local Events > Passing of NEA National Heritage Fellow Kevin Locke

Kevin Locke (Lakota name: Tȟokéya Inážiŋ, meaning “The First to Arise”), beloved hoop dancer, singer, storyteller, native flute player, and dedicated Baha’i, passed away unexpectedly in South Dakota just after his final performance at the Crazy Horse Memorial on September 30, 2022. He was 68 years old.

Of both Standing Rock Sioux and Anishinaabe descent, Kevin lived in Wakpala on the Standing Rock Reservation when he was not traveling around the world performing, visiting more than 90 countries. He was the recipient of a 1990 NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. In 2020 he was awarded the prestigious United States Artists Fellowship.

Kevin last visited our San Francisco Baha’i community in 2018, telling stories and performing for our 12th Day of Ridvan celebration. He also performed at two San Francisco schools and in San Pablo. 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.”

Patricia Locke, MacArthur Fellow and Kevin’s mother, who was taught the Baha’i Faith by her son, was elected to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in 1993, the first American Indian woman to be elected, serving until her passing. Kevin established the Patricia Locke Foundation to promote Indigenous culture, arts, and the oneness of humanity in her honor.

Our hearts go out to all of Kevin’s family members, most especially his wife and young daughter.