In South Dakota, it’s Native Americans' Day, not Columbus Day

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 12:52 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - South Dakota is one of 14 states that recognizes Oct. 12 as Native American Day, not Columbus Day.

And it’s been like this for years.

Gov. George Mickelson made the official call in 1990 that would rename Columbus Day to Native Americans' Day. This measure passed unanimously in the State Legislature. This came after a decision to seek reconciliation between Native and white people in the State.

South Dakota and 13 other states – Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Vermont and Wisconsin – plus the District of Columbia and more than 130 cities observe Indigenous Peoples Day instead of or in addition to Columbus Day.

Native American Day is an official state holiday on the fourth Friday in September in California. In Tennessee, American Indian Day is the fourth Monday in September.

Others have wanted to rename Columbus Day into “Exploration Day.”

In Rapid City, Native American day events are taking place. There will be a memorial walk at Sioux Park to honor children who died while attending the Rapid City Indian Boarding School. A groundbreaking ceremony for the future Remembering The Children Memorial took place after.

Mayor Steve Allender will join various speakers and guests, presenting a proclamation declaring Monday as The Day of the Grandmothers Unci Tha-anpetu.

In the proclamation, Mayor Allender indicates the existence of the Indian Boarding School in Rapid City is “a difficult piece of history to address, especially considering the children were the ones who ultimately suffered from its existence.”

“Although difficult, it is our responsibility, and obligation in memory of these children, to continue addressing the controversial decisions made in our community’s past, which continue to trouble our present; and while we are unable to change the past, we are able to face the difficult truths head-on through honest dialogue and collaboration in an effort to forge a better tomorrow for all children in this community.”

The Remembering The Children website says the events are open to the public, will take place regardless of weather conditions and COVID precautions will be followed with attendees advised to wear masks and to observe social distancing, with hand sanitizer available at the Walk’s start and finish.

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