Editorial: South Dakota honors Native history

"The second Monday in October is Native American Day in South Dakota. In the other 49 states, it's Columbus Day. As fate would have it, today, Oct. 9, is also Leif Erikson Day.

We recognize the names of Columbus and Erikson as European explorers who stumbled upon the New World in their voyages. Erikson set foot in eastern Canada, probably Newfoundland, in 1001, but no permanent settlement was made. It was Columbus' "discovery" of what would become called the Americas in 1492 that proved to be most devastating to the people who already lived on the American continents - Columbus called the people he met "Indians" because he thought he'd found a shortcut to India. Most of the American Indian tribes that were in the Americas when Columbus arrived no longer exist - destroyed by disease, war and genocide. Is it any wonder that Indians find celebrations and parades in honor of Columbus so disagreeable?

South Dakota is the only state in the nation that celebrates Native American Day instead of Columbus Day. The late Gov. George Mickelson renamed Columbus Day as Native American Day in 1989 and the state Legislature followed up the following year by establishing today as an official state holiday."

Get the Story:
Editorial: State history is rich (The Rapid City Journal 10/9)

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