Native Americans’ Day

When is Native Americans’ Day?

Native Americans’ Day is an alternative holiday celebrated in opposition to Columbus Day. It is held every second Monday in October—the same day as Columbus Day. While not recognized as a government holiday, Native Americans’ Day is considered a city and state public holiday in many regions in the United States. As the controversies of Columbus Day grow, celebrations of Native Americans’ Day has increased in prominence.

History

South Dakota is the birthplace of Native Americans’ Day. It officially started in 1989 when the state legislature took steps to replace Columbus Day. The new law effectively replaced Columbus Day in South Dakota with Native Americans’ Day starting on October 8, 1990. It was a unanimous decision, and a significant change that the people of South Dakota welcomed wholeheartedly. On top of the change in holiday, South Dakota declared the same year as a “Year of Reconciliation for Native Americans.”

Where It’s Celebrated

Native Americans’ Day got its start in South Dakota, but the idea has since spread to other parts of the United States. The city of Berkeley, California has celebrated the holiday since 1992. In fact, Columbus Day is no longer observed by Berkeley. While many people have praised the city’s decision, others feel it would be fair to celebrate both holidays. However, the consensus in Berkeley is that Native Americans’ Day is the more appropriate holiday to observe.

Since its founding in 1989, Native Americans’ Day has grown in popularity. Some groups of people choose to celebrate this holiday over Columbus Day, even if the latter is declared a public holiday in a particular region. Native Americans’ Day is also called Indigenous People’s Day in some locations.

Types of Celebrations

There’s no question that the “discovery” of the Americas turned into tragedy for Native Americans. Still, most people who celebrate Native Americans’ Day wish to commemorate the holiday as a positive one based on heritage. Native customs, songs and dances are highlighted in ceremonies, and educational events highlight cultural traditions. By bringing such celebrations to light, traditions can carry on and won’t be forgotten.

While Columbus Day is celebrated on a national level, many states choose not to observe the holiday as a public one. The situation is similar with Native Americans’ Day. The extent of business and government closures depend on local and state laws. In South Dakota and Berkeley, California, schools and public offices are closed, as well as many businesses. Families that celebrate Native Americans’ Day may also choose to take the day off from work or school.




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