South Dakota celebrates Native American Day

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - It has been 29 years since South Dakota passed legislation to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. Over the past few years, several new states are following in South Dakota's footsteps.

Thirteen states, including South Dakota and Washington D.C., celebrate Native American Day.

South Dakota was the first state in the nation to make the change. Governor George S. Mickelson in 1989 proposed the legislature proclaiming that 1990 as the year of reconciliation. In 1990, at Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park, many gathered to celebrate the state's rich culture and the first Native American Day.

"1990 was the 100th anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre," Dr. Michael Card, University of South Dakota political science associate professor, said. "And certainly the relations between the Native American tribes co-located within the boundary in the state of South Dakota hasn't always been positive."

Dr. Card says since then, we've had a Secretary of Tribal Relations and several other activities. Where the state corrected the history that Columbus didn't discover America, there were already people here.

Teaching Native American history and culture did not end in 1990; more than 20 kids gathered at the Multi-Cultural Center in Sioux Falls to learn more about Native American history.

"It's very important to pass our culture on," Colleen Cordell, Multi-Cultural Center volunteer, said.

Cordell has spent Native American Day with the Center for more than ten years.

"It started out small, and you know, it's really grown," she said. "It's nice to see that and all the people interested in coming and learning about the culture."

The students learned Pow Wow etiquette and enjoyed making and eating fry bread.

But, with more and more states adopting the name-change, could we see Native American Day across the country? Dr. Card thinks that in some areas, he doesn't expect they will have a Native American Day. But, says in regions of the country that have significant Native American Populations, he suspects we will continue to see the growth of Native American Day.

Roughly 10% of South Dakota's population is Native American, and nine tribal nations reside within the state.