SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Monday, South Dakota, the first state to recognize the holiday, will celebrate Native Americans’ Day along with just a few other states.
In 1989, Lynn Hart, who is half-Sioux and half-Black, went to Pierre advocating for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to be a legal holiday. His trip to the state capital ended up helping produce not only that holiday, but Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota, too.
“That’s the thing Governor Mickelson told me, he says ‘Lynn, we are probably one of the last four states in the Union to recognize Dr. Martin Luther King, but we will be the first state in the Union to recognize Native Americans.’ And that was 30 years ago. This is the 30th anniversary of South Dakota recognizing and creating America’s first Native American Day. ‘Hokahey!’ That’s what I’m talking about,” Lynn Hart of Flandreau said.
1990 was designated a “Year in Reconciliation,” and it was the first year Native Americans’ Day was officially celebrated in the state. Ceremonies took place in Custer State Park and at Crazy Horse Memorial.
“‘The Year in Reconciliation,’ Governor Mickelson told me that, ‘we, as non-Indians, we have been strangers too long,'” Hart said.
Hart says he wants recognization for Native Americans all year long, not just on the second Monday of October.
“My whole goal is to remind America of a group of people who once in pride and harmony inhabited this land but today, unfortunately, are roaming out of sight and out of mind like the buffalo,” Hart said.
Usually, a Native Americans’ Day parade takes place in Sioux Falls, but because of COVID-19, it has been cancelled this year.