What Native American Day Means to Me: Positive Change

Rose talks with another member of the Prairie Edge/Sioux Trading Post team about his thoughts on Native American Day. [Rose] Do you remember when the state of South Dakota changed this day from Columbus Day to Native American Day? 

[Robert] You know, I actually don't. I know the bill was passed over 20 years ago…and I would've been negative 2 years old. Growing up, it was kind of crazy because it was something that already happened…it was just another cool holiday. 

In school, we just realized the big change, the movement that this created by changing it from Columbus Day to Native American Day, but growing up, I didn't question it, but now I see…"Wow, South Dakota made a really big impact with changing it". Growing up in Rapid City where it is Caucasian populated and predominantly Native American as well, when you go through history, you realize what the Native Americans did with early settlers and what the Caucasian, the white people did during early settlement times…so its kind of crazy to realize what a big movement it was to change the holiday. Going back into history and seeing what they've done to each other…I can see that this holiday is kind of different. [Rose] You have a unique perspective because for you, its always been, its always existed…there was never a before (it was Native American Day). [Robert] Yeah, I just always thought it was just another holiday. [Rose] Have you ever experienced anyone ever saying something negative about it? [Robert] You know, I actually haven't, but people are always going to say in history, this is what happened - people were done wrong, whether it was on the Native American side or the white side - but, you're always going to hear that controversy and criticism. I think its (Native American Day) a positive thing. Its a day to celebrate Native Americans. It works to bridge the gap between the white community and the Native community. [Rose] And the blind disregard for how indigenous people feel and think about themselves. To bring it out into the open and say, "There really wasn't a discovery…there were already people here". [Robert] Yes…and people are always going to talk about how the Native Americans were done wrong…people always point out the wrong doing. [Rose] That's exactly how George Mickelson (the Governor at the time) felt…and he felt the need to progress forward. He started with one thing that seemed completely wrong and tried to work forward from there. What's nice is that you're a result of that change…you grew up as a positive result of that change. [Robert] Coming from South Dakota, I can say, "We made this really big change that was really trying to bridge that gap between the white community and the Native community and bring them together…so we can celebrate Columbus Day just like everyone else, but there's this small portion of the US that's kinda turning the tables and saying let's give thanks to Native Americans as well. I'm still growing up and I still have lots of growing up to do, but I'm trying to get both sides of the story to come to that realization of how big of a step we took and how we're kind of the "Lone Ranger" in the US by doing that. [Rose] Wow, Robert, that's a great perspective.