A growing movement within the United States is leading people to celebrate Native Americans’ Day or similarly named holidays on the second Monday of each October.
|2020||12 Oct||Mon||Native American Day||SD|
|2021||11 Oct||Mon||Native American Day||SD|
Traditionally, this has been the day reserved to commemorate Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America. However, the advent of Europeans to North America’s shores brought disease, violence and a loss of cultural cohesion among tribes, Native Americans tend to be reluctant to observe a day in Columbus’ honor.
American Indians make up about 10 percent of South Dakota’s population, which is why the movement to give up Columbus Day in favor of Native Americans’ Day gained such traction. In 1990, South Dakota Governor George Mickelson declared a “Year of Reconciliation” between Native Americans and citizens of European descent.
Each year, South Dakotans gather at the Crazy Horse Memorial to celebrate native culture. This includes performances by native singers and dancers as well as displays of native artwork. Storytellers weave traditional tales for appreciative audiences and young attendees take part in a number of hand-on activities. Buffalo stew is on the menu, and explosives work on the massive Crazy Horse monument goes forward to loud acclaim from the viewers.
The movement toward celebrating a version of Native Americans’ Day is growing in other places across the country, with informal and official activities taking place at both city and state levels.