Kyrie Irving and his sister underwent an emotional naming ceremony to become official members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota this week. Named “Little Mountain” in the Lakota tradition, the Boston Celtics star gave an emotional address to his new family and promises to deepen his connection with his people.
Wearing a traditional shirt with ribbons, Irving stood on a buffalo skin and was prayed over by a tribe elder, Vernon Iron Horse. As a drum group played and chanted, Irving was wrapped in a blanket, had an eagle feather tied into his hair along with a medicine ball made of porcupine quills, and had a beaded medallion placed over his head as his name was revealed to him.
Irving’s older sister, Asia, was also part of the ceremony and was given the Lakota name Buffalo Woman.
“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. “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.”
Irving’s mother, Elizabeth Larson, was a descendant of the tribe but was not raised by her birth family after being adopted early on. Irving lost his mother when he was just four years of age, but has reaffirmed his knowledge of the Native American lineage of his family.
Watch the moving speech below.