"An unprecedented event happened in South Dakota 24 years ago, an event that has not been duplicated by any other state: South Dakota adopted October 12 as a state holiday to be called Native American Day,"Tim Giago wrote Sept. 15 for the Huffington Post, anticipating this weekend.
"By selecting October 12, South Dakota eliminated, for all intent and purpose, Columbus Day as a holiday. But the ensuing 24 years have proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that old habits are hard to break.
"The Native American Day holiday did not occur by happenstance. It certainly was not anything advocated by the state's largest newspapers, television or radio stations, or by the state's 100 weekly newspapers. It was instead a holiday advocated by the only independent, Indian-owned weekly newspaper in the state, the original Lakota Times (No connection to the current Lakota Country Times). . . ."
Giago also wrote, "But as I alluded to earlier, change comes hard in this state. The state's white-owned media has done little to promote Native American Day. Out-of-state retail chains like Walmart, Target, K-Mart, J.C. Penney's and Lowe's, and others, with their corporate mentality, still advertise 'Columbus Day' sales. And above all, the state government of South Dakota has been woefully negligent in stepping forward to celebrate a day that honors Native Americans.
"It seems to me that the people of South Dakota are not fully aware that what they accomplished is unique in American history. Of the 50 States of the Union, only one has set aside a state sanctioned holiday to honor Native Americans and in so doing has diminished a holiday, Columbus Day, that most Native Americans find offensive. Witness the Native protests that take place across America (except in South Dakota) every October 12. In South Dakota we made this happen without firing a shot.
"If South Dakota's white-owned media had come up with the idea of Native American Day, or of a Year of Reconciliation, perhaps they would be more apt to promote and honor these days, but it seems to me that because the Lakota people and a Lakota-owned newspaper did it for them, they are hesitant, fearful and even envious of promoting this special day. They even neglect to report truthfully about how this day began. They instead credit a white governor and white legislature totally ignoring the all-important instigating role played by me and the Native Americans at the Lakota Times.
"I would say to the Lakota people that October 12 is our day. . . ."
The University of California at San Diego adds, "California Native American Day was established as an official state holiday in 1998. Today, all California schools recognize the fourth Friday in September as the official Native American holiday. . . "