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South Dakota Celebrates Native Americans' Day

October 8, 2012, 6:03 PM by Derek Olson

South Dakota Celebrates Native Americans' Day

While people in South Dakota are celebrating Native Americans' Day, it's known as Columbus Day in all the other states. Some people feel that leaves out important facts about our country's history.

People had a blast at Crazy Horse on Monday.  It's how the memorial commemorated Native Americans' Day, which is celebrating its 22nd year in the state.

"The point of Native Americans' Day in South Dakota is to acknowledge all that's happened, good and bad, but more importantly to point to the future," Master of Ceremonies Jim Shaw said.

The late Governor George Mickelson spear-headed efforts that changed Columbus Day to Native Americans' Day in the state in 1990, what he dubbed as the year of reconciliation.

"He had a real dream and was really a governor who was working toward the reconciliation of Native Americans to all other races," Crazy Horse board member and Lakota artist Donald Montileaux said.

Although Native Americans lived across the entire continent, the celebration of their heritage is less widespread.

In fact, South Dakota is one of only three states that celebrate Native Americans' Day and the only state that celebrates it in place of Columbus Day.

"You know, Native Americans are not only here in South Dakota and the other states you've mentioned, but nationally, they are everywhere.  There are so many different tribes and diverse cultures and languages," Montileaux said.

"I wish more states would participate, but at least South Dakota is taking the lead," Shaw said.

Taking the lead in making sure history doesn't overlook North America's original inhabitants.

"1492 implies that somehow there was nothing here until he arrived in this hemisphere, when in fact, history shows us there were millions of people living all across the United States and Canada and Mexico," Shaw said.

Although the second Monday of October is celebrated as Columbus Day in the United States, the explorer never set foot in North America.  Christopher Columbus' voyages actually led him to the Caribbean and South America.

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