Native Americans' Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October. Native Americans and other people in the United States observe this day instead of Columbus Day, protesting its colonialist origins.
Native Americans' Day is a public holiday in the states of California and South Dakota and is also observed in Nevada and Wisconsin.
This holiday celebrates Native American heritage and culture, honoring the contributions of Native American tribes to the history of the United States.
The day also highlights the persecution of Native American tribes, with many having been forced to let go of their culture and tradition to assimilate into American culture.
With this holiday, Native Americans ensure that their history and customs are not lost, and raise awareness about their culture.
Native Americans' Day is a public holiday in California and South Dakota, and schools and businesses remain closed for the day.
Background of Dakota Day
California was the first state to have a holiday in honor of Native Americans, having founded Indian Day in 1939, to be celebrated on October 1st.
In 1992, officials in Berkley, California decided to celebrate Native Americans' Day, also known as Indigenous People's Day, instead of Columbus Day.
Later, in 1998, another Native American Day was made into an official statewide observance, commemorated on the fourth Friday in September.
Native Americans' Day was first observed in 1989 in South Dakota when a law was passed by Governor Mickelson proclaiming 1990 as a “Year of Reconciliation”.
The state also dropped Columbus Day as a public holiday and instated Native American Day on the second Monday of October as a holiday instead.
Each Native American tribe and Nation has different traditions, customs, rituals, and celebrations. This holiday commemorates this rich and diverse culture, and how they enrich American heritage.
It also honors the strength and perseverance of Native Americans who have suffered years of persecution and discrimination.
It is important to preserve Native American heritage and ensure it doesn't get lost to mainstream American culture. Native Americans were in America before the United States even existed, and they have played a huge role in the history of the country.
Who are Native Americans?
Native Americans are the locals who inhabited the lands that now comprise the United States of America long before the arrival of European settlers. They are the original inhabitants of North America and are descendants of various tribal groups, each with its own distinct cultures, languages, traditions, and histories.
Before European colonization, Native American tribes lived in a wide range of environments, from the Arctic in the north to the deserts of the Southwest and the forests of the Northeast and Pacific Northwest. They thrived through diverse subsistence methods, including hunting, fishing, agriculture, and gathering.
The arrival of European explorers in the late 15th century brought significant changes to Native American societies. Over the centuries, their lands were gradually taken over through colonization, treaties, and forced removals. Many Native Americans were displaced from their ancestral lands and experienced devastating hardships, including disease, warfare, and cultural assimilation.
Despite the challenges they faced, Native Americans have maintained their resilience and rich cultural heritage. Today, there are over 570 federally recognized tribes in the United States, each with its own unique identity and traditions. Efforts to preserve Native American languages, arts, crafts, and customs continue to be an essential part of their ongoing cultural preservation and celebration.
What to do on Native Americans' Day
If you live in either California or South Dakota there are many Native Americans' Day events that you can attend. Both states have educational events where people can come together, natives and non-natives, to learn more about Native American culture and its traditions.
Organizations and communities host different activities that anyone can attend that incorporate Native American customs, such as markets and Pow Wows. A Pow Wow is a native social gathering, which in modern times also incorporates dancing and singing.
You can still learn more about Native American culture if you're not in any of these states. Take it upon yourself to research more about the history of Native Americans. There are many resources to do this, such as books, documentaries, and, of course, the internet.