Kyrie Irving and his older sister, Asia Irving, were given Lakota names after they were welcomed into their late mother’s Standing Rock Sioux tribe on Thursday. The Celtics’ all-star was given the name, “Hela,” (pronounced HAY’-law) which translates to “Little Mountain.” His sister’s Lakota name, Tatanka Winyan (tuh-TONG’-kuh WEE’-yun), translates to “Buffalo Woman.”
Irving’s late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the tribe at a young age, and both their grandparents and great grandparents, according to The Associate Press’ Blake Nicholson, have ties to the tribal family, as well.
“Our journeys have been directed in so many different ways, but yet we are still standing here embracing each other as if we haven’t lost any time,” Irving said, according to Nicholson. “It’s really special for me to be here because I lost my mom at a very young age, and I had no idea about the history and how inclusive this group is and what it means to part of the Sioux tribe.”
“This is finally meeting my mom’s family in their home,” he said. “This is family for me now.”
Just call him "Little Mountain."— AP Sports (@AP_Sports) August 24, 2018
Boston @Celtics star @KyrieIrving has been given a Lakota name and is now part of his mother's Sioux tribe. #NBA
More from on the ceremony on the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota from @NicholsonBlake: https://t.co/O5K9FLLDJF pic.twitter.com/7WFGwZsDyO
The Irving siblings visited the tribe’s reservation on the North Dakota-South Dakota border. According to Nicholson, they were recognized for both their tribal heritage and their support against the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline that would have run directly beneath the tribe’s reservation, potentially impacting water quality and their ancient burial grounds.
Irving had been publicly against the Dakota Pipeline for years, and tweeted his support for protesters back in November of 2016. He also reportedly made a six-figure donation to tribe in 2017.
My prayers and thoughts are with everyone protesting at Standing Rock, I am with you all. #NoDAPL Defend the Sacred.— Kyrie Irving (@KyrieIrving) November 22, 2016
The NBA hasn’t done Nickname Day since 2014, but if they decide to bring it back any time soon, it’s fair to say we know what’ll be on the back of Irving’s jersey.
“I’m with you guys forever,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind that.”