Discover native heritage on October 8 at the Museum of the American Indian
Crazy Horse Memorial hosts free celebration
South Dakota's Native American Day brings mixed reaction
By Jeff Natalie-Less
"To me, I am really excited Gov. (George) Mickelson made the effort to change the holiday," said Dani Daugherty, an attorney who works for the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Aberdeen. "The main reason is that I don't think we should be honoring Columbus."
Daugherty, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, said that when she was in law school at the University of South Dakota in 2000, she read the journals of Christopher Columbus.
"The journals record the horrific treatment of the natives," she said. "In one section, Columbus says how he rewarded the crew by letting them go on shore and rape the native women and girls. The records are filled with atrocities. How could people, regardless of their views about American Indians, feel that a person like that should be honored?"
In 1989, the South Dakota Legislature unanimously passed legislation that changed Columbus Day to Native American Day. Then-Gov. Mickelson proposed the legislation. The holiday is recognized on the second Monday in October in South Dakota.
Daugherty said she sees Native American Day as a time to recognize the resiliency and the worth of native peoples.
"Not only did we survive horrific treatment, loss of land, culture, buffalo and sacred sites, but we are here contributing as citizens," she said. "Our story is a story of positive change. It is a great thing what Gov. Mickelson did. He recognized the rich cultural resource that we are."
Gretchen Brown, a student at Northern State University, said the holiday is hard to separate from Columbus Day.
"I have mixed feelings about Native American Day because it represents the cruel treatment of American Indians and native peoples after Columbus arrived," she said. "The whole day we could just get rid of."
She said she is surprised the country as a whole holds on to Columbus Day.
"U.S. culture is based on freedom, equality and rights, but yet we still honor Columbus?" she asked.
For more on Columbus, see Columbus Day Celebrates Conquest and Geico Ad Features Columbus in Speedboat.