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Is There a Day Dedicated to Native Americans?

Italian explorer Christopher Columbus sailed for 70 days before getting his first look at the Americas on 12 October 1492. While he never actually set foot on what is now US soil, his adventures led to the first European settlements in the New World. More than four centuries after these voyages of exploration, Columbus Day has become a legal holiday in the United States, parts of Canada, and some cities in Italy and Spain. But there is no Columbus Day in South Dakota. Instead, the state pays tribute to the people who were here long before -- and long after -- Columbus.

Since 1990, South Dakota has celebrated Native American Day on the second Monday in October, as a way to recognize the cultural contributions of native people. South Dakota's then-Governor George S. Mickelson also declared 1990 to be a "Year of Reconciliation" between Native Americans and white Americans in an effort to address the state's painful history, such as the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre.

Celebrating native people in the Americas:

  • 12 October is celebrated in Latin American countries as Columbus Day, Discovery Day or Day of the Race. All these holidays honor the diversity of people in Latin America, and there are parades and fiestas.
  • Since 1968, Californians have celebrated American Indian Day on the fourth Friday in September.
  • In Tennessee, American Indian Day has been celebrated on 31 October since 1994.
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