SD journalist makes plea to public on Native American Day - KOTA Territory News

SD journalist makes plea to public on Native American Day

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Long-time journalist Tim Giago wrote an editorial in 1989 suggesting the state of South Dakota commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre with a year of reconciliation.

Loyal reader and then-governor George S. Mickelson took notice.

Giago says Mickelson saw it as an opportunity to improve the race relations between Indians and white, something his father considered his greatest challenge.

"He said to me, I have an opportunity to do something about it that maybe by father didn't have 40 years ago. So, lets get busy and let's work on it."

A year of lobbying natives and whites alike - and a lot of politicking later...

"He made the proclamation for 1990 as the year of reconciliation and the legislative body, mostly republicans, voted to have Native American in lieu of Columbus Day."

Giago says great strides have been made since.

Events such as the Black Hills Pow Wow have played an important role. But he fears without continued education by the schools and the media, the meaning of the day, a day to celebrate the true legacy of the discovery of America, will be lost.

"If you went out and just took a man on the street interview and talked to 10 people, I would say 9 of them would not know how Native American Day started."

So, I did just that.

Question from Cindy Davis: Do you know how Native American Day started?

"Nah, not really," said Clayton Merrill of Rapid City.

"You know, I'm not sure," said Chad Barker of Rapid City.

"It puzzles me, why did they change it," said Teddy Luera of Rapid City.

While it's clear there's still work to be done, Giago is hopeful this plea will keep South Dakota moving in the right direction.

"I think it's still something that's in the works, something that I know is going to work. It's just got to work."

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