Celebrating Native Americans’ Day

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By Gov. Dennis Daugaard

Since 1990, South Dakota has celebrated Native Americans’ Day. We were the first in the nation to establish Native Americans’ Day as an official state holiday, done at the urging of Gov. George S. Mickelson as a part of his “Year of Reconciliation” efforts. A crowd of South Dakotans gathered at Crazy Horse Memorial to celebrate the first Native Americans’ Day. There were prayers offered by the Keeper of the Sacred Pipe of the Sioux Nation and an Episcopalian bishop, the Sioux Anthem and Star Spangled Banner were sung, and speeches were given by Oglala Sioux Tribe President Harold Salway and Gov. Mickelson.

This event was just one of the highlights of the Year of Reconciliation. Gov. Mickelson spent those months trying to form new partnerships with tribes and bridge gaps between Natives and non-Natives. He reactivated the Commission on Indian Affairs and put in the effort to work directly with individual tribes and consider each tribe’s unique issues and needs. Mickelson called on South Dakotans of all races to focus on areas of agreement, which led to successes in tribal tourism, health care and small business development


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