Even so, the Wildcats are often good-naturedly booed at the LNI because they've won it six times. "That's just part of playing on someone else's floor," says Luitjens, whose team beat Pine Ridge 78-52 in last year's final. "I'm friends with a lot of the people in the stands. It has always been a family reunion for the Lakota, but now it's a family reunion for me, too."
When Luitjens learned he had prostate cancer in the fall of 2002, Brewer invited him to the reservation for a sweat and a uwipi, a healing ceremony. "Bryan Brewer was sitting on one side of me and Dusty LeBeau, the coach at Pine Ridge, was sitting on the other side," says Luitjens. "When it was all done, they said, 'Now Larry, you're part of our family. Whenever we do anything, you're welcome.' That, to me, is reconciliation. And isn't that what this is all about?"