ABERDEEN | While the rest of the nation celebrates Columbus Day, South Dakota celebrates Native American Day. Some American Indians have mixed feelings about it.
The state Legislature in 1989 approved the change proposed by then-Gov. George Mickelson. South Dakota is the only state that celebrates Native American Day on Columbus Day.
"He spent his life in South Dakota and he knew the Native American population was a significant part of the state," Mark Mickelson, son of the late governor, told the American News (http://bit.ly/RpXbm4 ). "It was a way to let them know he was serious about reconciliation."
Bureau of Indian Affairs attorney Dani Daugherty, who grew up on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, said Native American Day is a time to recognize the resiliency and the contributions of native peoples.
"Not only did we survive horrific treatment, loss of land, culture, buffalo and sacred sites, but we are here contributing as citizens," she said. "Our story is a story of positive change. It is a great thing what Gov. Mickelson did. He recognized the rich cultural resource that we are."
But Standing Rock Sioux member Gordon Tree Trop said that while he prefers Native American Day over Columbus Day, he does not see Native American Day as a special occasion and does not have many positive memories of the day. He remembers being teased by classmates while growing up.
"They would say, 'Oh, so you have the right to have your own day,'" Tree Top said. "As a Native American, I stuck out enough."