Standing before a crowd of 20 well-wishers in City Hall, a stalwart of Native American journalism was honored Friday by Rapid City councilors.

Tim Giago, the owner of the Native Sun News, was recognized by City Hall for 30 years of dedicated service to indigenous issues.

Under an executive proclamation, Mayor Sam Kooiker declared April 5 "Tim Giago Day."

The accolade comes after a decision by Giago to step back from the Native Sun News. While he will remain owner, he said he will be less involved in the paper's day-to-day management.

Speaking after the meeting, Giago said he hoped he made a lasting impact on the community.

"I have been writing a weekly column for 33 years, and it has been used to teach, it has been used to provoke, and in many ways it has encouraged other Native Americans to pursue a career in journalism," he said.

In 1981, Giago founded the Lakota Times. The paper was renamed Indian Country Today in 1992, and under his leadership grew into the country's largest independent Native American newspaper.

Giago sold Indian Country Today in 1998 and became owner of the Native Sun News. He went on to become the first president of the Native American Journalists Association in 1994 and was inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2007.

Friends and officials took turns Friday applauding Giago. Jim Scull, owner of a Rapid City construction company, described him as "an unassuming guy, except with a pen."

Dan Tribby, general manager of Prairie Edge, a Native American art store in Rapid City, said Giago's work was often provocative but always important.

"I think written in invisible ink was 'just stop and think about it,'" he said.

All three members of South Dakota's congressional delegation also sent statements that congratulated Giago.

Darrell Shoemaker, an aide to Sen. Tim Johnson, D-S.D., read aloud a statement on Johnson's behalf: "Something tells me we haven't seen the last of Tim Giago's byline or his influence," he said.

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