NBA star Kyrie Irving pays homage to his Native American heritage

By Te Ao - Māori News

Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving honoured his Native American heritage by performing a cleansing ceremony and burning sage on the court ahead of a pre-season clash with the Boston Celtics at the weekend. 

Irving’s late mother, Elizabeth Ann Larson, was a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe which garnered support from indigenous nations across the globe in their fight t to stop the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a 1,886 km oil pipeline through their lands in North and South Dakota  

The Olympic Gold Medal winner and 2014 USA Basketball Male Player of the Year says the cleansing and burning of sage helps keep him connected to his ancestors. 

"Being able to sage, just cleanse the energy, make sure that we're all balanced. When we come into this job, we come into this place, it's not anything that I don't do at home that I did today. I saged last game, and I plan to sage almost every game if the opposing team will allow me to. 

"But, literally, it's more or less for us to stay connected and for us to feel great about going to work, and feeling safe and provided for from our ancestors. I'm not going to bring too much of the spirituality into basketball, but yeah it's part of my native culture where I'm from." 

Irving visited the Standing Rock Sioux tribe in 2018 with his sister and took part in a naming ceremony. He was also a vocal and strong advocate for those who fought and continue to fight to prevent the Dakota Access pipeline. 

The Brooklyn Nets went on to win their pre-season game against the Boston Celtics 113-89, he says he plans to continue burning sage before every game moving forward.