RAPID CITY, S.D. — In 1990, under then-Governor George Mickelson, South Dakota became the first state to make a declaration changing Columbus Day to Native Americans’ Day. The day serves as a time to honor and celebrate the state’s indigenous communities and their culture.
The initial observance of the holiday took place at Crazy Horse Memorial, witnessed by 1,200 people.
Over 30 years later, the state continues to observe this holiday. Crazy Horse and many other organizations across the state with many organizations educating people about and highlighting the history of tribal communities.
In the Rapid City area, the Journey Museum will be open Monday for Community Day.
“Tomorrow [Monday], we’ll have a special movie with Miss Black Hills Powwow Lauren McNabb that we’re showing in our auditorium,” museum educator Sylvia Trentz said. “We’ll have the ledger art and bison box, people will get to through the museum. And we have scavenger hunts for older students and younger students alike.”
While normally closed on Mondays, the Journey Museum will open its doors for the day, inviting the public to enjoy special activities.
The museum’s weekend classroom sessions will also continue, with guests learning about how materials gathered from hunted bison were utilized not just for food but also for things like storing liquids, keeping warm, toys, and even for repelling the elements.
Ledger art is another part of the classroom session, showing how discarded papers were turned into colorful works of art depicting battles and daily life events.
“Store owners would then throw them away when they were all full with writing,” Trentz explained. “And then they got retrieved and would be colored over with pictures.”
The Journey Museum also has their newest exhibit, “Bird Songs” for the public to see as well. Watercolor paintings by artist Arthur Short Bull show birds native to the area and include their original Lakota names.
The film being shown in the museum’s theater will tell the history of Native American Day, along with Powwows and The Great Race.
“Every culture has something special to share. And with our activities, this way we can educate the public but still have fun learning about the Native American heritage that we have in the area.”
Other places that will be open for Native Americans’ Day events include: Crazy Horse Memorial, Mitchell Prehistoric Indian Village, and Tatanka: Story of the Bison
The South Dakota Department of Tribal Relations also has a complete list of things to do on their Facebook page.