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Celebrating Native American Day In SD

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South Dakota is the only state that recognized Native American Day on Monday, rather than Columbus Day.

Celebrations happened across the state, including in Sioux Falls at the Multi-Cultural Center.

Along with the state legislature and then-governor George Mickelson, South Dakota approved the name change in 1989.

The day, previously known as Columbus Day is controversial to some because while Christopher Columbus is sometimes portrayed to have discovered the new world, the land was already populated by Native Peoples, who had 'discovered' the Americas thousands of years before.

Now, once a year, Native Americans come together to focus on traditions, culture and heritage.

Jerome Kills Small, a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, said celebrating through dance and music is a huge part of the Native American Culture.

"We say it's the heart beat of the people," said Kills Small. "You'll feel and your feet will hit the beat, then it makes sense.”
Kills Small said the traditional pow-wows bring the people together to feel rhythm and harmony.

"Make that body memory develop through song and recognizing people in the circle to build trust and to build that power for healing when you need it," said Kills Small.

For Lyla Moore, Native American Youth Instructor at the Mult-Cultural Center,
she said, dancing is a way to express yourself.

"You get out there and you sacrifice your body, for the people," said Moore.

The real message she said, is to honor Native American Day, and to unite as one.

"To gather together and be together, have fun, dance, just enjoy and eat," said Moore.

Kills Small said he feels grateful South Dakota is the only state to recognize Native American Day as a holiday.

"It feels that the America and Mickelson should be praised to have us to continue our ways toward the future," said Kills Small.

Kills Small said the celebration at the Multi-Cultural Center is dedicated to his cousin, Joseph Okie from Vermillion, who died on Sunday.

He said his cousin loved pow-wows and believes he was there in spirit singing and dancing.

Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota are the three states that do not recognize Columbus Day at all, although Hawaii and South Dakota mark the day with an alternative holiday or observance.

 Hawaii celebrates Discoverers' Day and Berkeley, California replaced Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day.
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