Native American Day in South Dakota (Irony & Vulcan Proverbs)

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

(Also available in Orange at Daily Kos)

Ironically, it’s Native American Day in South Dakota, but not in the United States as a whole.

South Dakota History

In 1989 the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed legislation proposed by Governor George S. Mickelson to proclaim 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation” between Native Americans and whites, to change Columbus Day to Native American Day and to make Martin Luther King’s birthday into a state holiday. Since 1990 the second Monday in October has been celebrated as Native American Day in South Dakota.

Perhaps it’s time for a new twist on that old saying in United States poltics – As California South Dakota goes, so goes the nation.

Or to put it another way, why is South Dakota so far ahead of the rest of the country in recognizing there’s a problem and seeking to rectify it?

Part of the reason I have to write this diary, is because not enough people read and rec’d this excellent diary by Ojibwa:


In 1892 the United States Indian Office (later known as the Bureau of Indian affairs) ordered all Indian Schools to celebrate Columbus Day on October 21. Indian students were to pay homage to the so-called “discoverer” of the “New” World.  Officials felt that Indian students must be made to see that Columbus’s accomplishment was not only a red-letter day in American history but also a beneficent development in the fortunes of American Indians. According to the popular histories, it was only after Columbus that Indians entered into the stream of history. It was only after Columbus did Indians begin the slow and painful climb out of the darkness of savagery. Many Indians wished that Columbus had discovered some other country.

(I love the last line (my bolding) but you should read the whole paragraph and indeed the whole damn diary.)

Many Italian Americans celebrate Columbus Day as a source of pride in their heritage. Indeed, it can be argued that it was discrimination against Catholics and Italians (and other ethnicities) that brought about the inception of Columbus Day in the first place:

Catholic immigration in the mid-nineteenth century induced discrimination from anti-immigrant activists such as the Ku Klux Klan. Like many other struggling immigrant communities, Catholics developed organizations to fight discrimination and provide insurance for the struggling immigrants. One such organization, the Knights of Columbus, chose that name in part because it saw Christopher Columbus as a fitting symbol of Catholic immigrants’ right to citizenship: one of their own, a fellow Catholic, had discovered America.[2]

Some Italian-Americans observe Columbus Day as a celebration of their heritage, the first occasion being in New York City on October 12, 1866.[3] Columbus Day was first popularized as a holiday in the United States through the lobbying of Angelo Noce, a first generation Italian, in Denver. The first official, regular Columbus Day holiday was proclaimed by Colorado governor Jesse F. McDonald in 1905 and made a statutory holiday in 1907.[4] In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt October 12 was made a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day[5] and a Federal holiday.[6]

I would think then, that Italian-Americans (of which I am one, at least in part) would find it particularly ironic that sites like points to its own mocking derision of Native Americans protesting the Columbus Day parade in Denver as something for White Americans to be proud of:

Cold weather drives off anti-white bigots at Denver parade.

During the past couple years about 200 violent Marxists, and Chicano militants and have attempted to disrupt the Christopher Columbus parade in Denver, Colorado. Each year police arrest dozens for violence, but the left-wing authorities in Denver never prosecute any for crimes. The local media always falsely claims that the thugs are “American Indian protesters.” Almost none of them fit that title, with almost all being white or Mexican.

Earth to people of mixed European and Amerindian ancestry make up 60-80% of the population of Mexico.

Now of course not everyone (nor even the vast majority) who celebrate Columbus Day use it as jingoistic basis for discrimination like the folks above or the racists at stormfront. And I’m not implying anything of the sort.

But isn’t it perhaps time, or past time, to recognize that while Columbus Day did indeed help in pulling an oppressed minority up, at the same time it quashed another down?

In South Dakota, of all places, they’ve tried to do just that. As noted in the intro, South Dakota replaced Columbus Day with Native American Day starting in 1990. Yes, that’s the same South Dakota of Wounded Knee Creek, where Miniconjou Sioux (Lakota) and Hunkpapa Sioux (Lakota) were massacred.

Now I have no Native American ancestry, at least that I know of, and for that matter, no Vulcan ancestry either. But I have to wonder, is this an instance of the ancient vulcan proverb, “Only Nixon can go to China?”

Tim Giago writes over at the Huffington Post on South Dakota’s Native American Day:

When Columbus Day comes around each year there is consternation in the Native American community across America. Columbus Day parades, particularly the one held in Denver, CO., are disrupted by militant American Indians. On some Indian reservations black armbands are worn to recognize what the indigenous people consider a “day of infamy.”

But who would have “thunk” that in a state Indian activists called “The Mississippi of the North” in the 1970s, would be the only state in the Union that does not celebrate Columbus Day, but instead celebrates “Native American Day.

… South Dakota is the only state out of 50 that has moved to create a Native American Day to honor its largest minority.

Read more at:…

Now as I said earlier, I don’t hold myself out to be an expert on Native American issues. I don’t know if that despite the celeration of Native American Day in South Dakota, that there are still real and enduring problems that the Lakota and other natives of the area face. I assume there are and that the struggle is ongoing.

But here’s what I’d like to know. If South Dakota can do it, then why not the entire United States? If South Dakota is leading the nation in this regard, isn’t it about time that we follow? When will we learn that the way to come to grips with the past begins with confronting it?

And before anyone accuses me of being just another liberal apologist, speaking out for Native Americans at the expense of the Europeans, let me just point out the second instance in this diary of the ancient Vulcan proverb:

California History

In 1968, Ronald Reagan signed a resolution calling for a holiday called American Indian Day, to be held the Fourth Friday in September.

I don’t know the answer. I don’t know if we make it a dual holiday, separate holidays, or what. But please, can we perhaps boldly go where no man has gone before, (oh except for South Dakota and the known Liberal Ronald Reagan) and try to officially start owning up to our past?


  1. Here:

    Thanks all.

  2. Happy European Genocide Day

    Native American Day sounds kind of offensive.

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