For most students attending the University of South Dakota, this past Monday, Oct. 8, was a much-needed day off following the 2012 Dakota Days weekend.
However, the annual celebration may have overshadowed the real reason why university students around South Dakota were granted a three-day weekend.
In 1989, the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed a bill marking 1990 “The Year of Reconciliation” for Native Americans and transforming the nationally-recognized Columbus Day into Native American Day.
Since 1990, every second Monday in October is set aside by South Dakotans to recognize Native American Day, and to respect the heritage that fostered this land long before early settlers arrived in the 19th
To honor the day, government offices are closed down and most schools, as well as many banks and businesses.
With the exception of Berkley, Calif., South Dakota is the only governed body in the U.S. to recognize Columbus Day as a tribute to Native American cultures.
While the holiday has already come and gone, many did not think twice as to why the South Dakota Board of Regents were gracious enough to award a post D-Days day of rest, it is important to take a moment and recognize its significance.
After all, we don’t just appreciate what it means to be an American on the Fourth of July, do we?
It is not every state that celebrates something so unique to its history. In fact, South Dakota celebrates something no other state does, and it important for its population to not take it for granted.
Nearly 9 percent of South Dakota’s population is that of Native American decent, that’s just over 72,500 living in South Dakota alone.
That said, it would be ignorant to assume that Native American culture and heritage has no effect on everyone’s daily lives. Especially in South Dakota where all historical roots are planted firmly in the inhabitance of Great Plain Native American tribes.
The best way to be thankful for the unique holiday was to spend it wisely; it was not given to act as a dispensable day, but one to be appreciated.