John Thune: Celebrating Native American Day in South Dakota

The following is the opinion of Sen. John Thune (R-South Dakota).

At the urging of the late Governor George Mickelson, the South Dakota legislature voted in 1989 to establish Native American Day. Since 1990, officially designated the “Year of Reconciliation,” Native American Day has been celebrated in South Dakota on the second Monday of October each year.

Today, our state stands as one of only a few that honors the Native ancestry of our country with such a day. This official state holiday is a celebration, as well as a time of reflection on the vast contributions Native Americans have made and the hardship they faced in the past.

The traditions of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people are continually seen throughout our state’s culture. Through music, food, art, design, and language, South Dakota’s nine tribes continue to contribute to the vibrancy and culture of our state.

I am proud to have worked alongside tribal leaders over the years to help foster an environment in which our tribes can preserve this rich history, while making necessary improvements for future success. Specifically, this year marks the one-year anniversary since the Tribal Law and Order Act was signed into law. After listening to tribal leaders’ concerns of crime and safety on our reservations, I took the insight I gained from those discussions back to Congress to improve and strengthen the Tribal Law and Order Act legislation, first introduced in 1998.

While this piece of legislation will serve as an important tool in improving security on our reservations for years to come, we still have work to do to ensure the Native way of life is preserved and protected.

This October, let us all remember and reflect on the great and many contributions Native Americans have given to South Dakota.

Join the Conversation