The second Monday in October has been recognized as a federal holiday since 1968. In 1990, South Dakota was the first state to do things a little differently from the rest of the country. In South Dakota, we recognize Monday October 11e, like Native American Day. We recognize that the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota people and their culture are part of who we collectively are as South Dakota. We traditionally recognize them as O’ceti Sakowin, which means the Seven Fires of the Council – more commonly known around the world as the Great Sioux Nation.
In 1990, Governor George S. Mickelson led the “Year of Reconciliation”. My goal in public service has been to continue this mission of recognition and respect for the nine tribal nations that share our geography. My goal is to sit at the table with tribal leaders to support tribal communities, businesses and families.
One of the people who is instrumental in my work with Native Americans is Dave Flute, Secretary of Tribal Relations. As a veteran of the 235e A military police company and a proud Native American leader across the Great Plains, Dave has spent his life serving his people and his country. He taught me a lot about what is important to Native Americans in South Dakota and how to strengthen the relationships between our communities.
My view of South Dakota is strongly based on family values. It is common ground that I share with each tribal chief. I learned a lot about the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota values through this lens. Providing strong support systems for youth, families and the elderly is a mission I share as a mother, caregiver and as a South Dakota. Strong families are what make South Dakota special. “Tiwahe wasagyapi wicawake’ye.” (I believe in strong families.)
Through the Department of Social Services’ Foster One and Stronger Families Together program, I have supported and urged Indigenous families to open their homes, adopt and place in foster care. We need more indigenous families to open their hearts and homes to children. Much like tribal communities, South Dakota was built by families supporting families. “Oyate kin na tiwahe tawapi okciyapo.” (Communities and families need to help each other.)
This holiday weekend, I encourage each South Dakota to join their own community to support Indigenous-owned businesses, learn about local Native American culture, and recognize the common values we share as Dakota. from South. Don’t wait until Monday to celebrate Native American heritage.
For more information on resources, events, and other tribal initiatives, visit sdtribalrelations.sd.gov.