Though not a national holiday, Native Americans’ Day is observed in Autumn in a growing number of states in the Union. It is celebrated in either late September (the fourth Friday in September) or in mid-October as a replacement for what is widely known as Columbus Day. In California, where I live, it’s been observed in late September since 1968. If you live in California, click here to learn more about this statewide celebration and day of learning.
In South Dakota, 1990 was proclaimed “The Year of Reconciliation” between Native Americans and white people. It’s debatable how much the two peoples actually reconciled, but one of the outcomes of the year was that Columbus Day (observed in the United States on the second Monday in October) was changed to Native Americans’ Day to remember and respect the First Nations of the area, the Sioux/Lakota.
At the Crazy Horse Memorial in South Dakota, for example, the “Native Americans’ Day celebration… each year includes naming the Crazy Horse Memorial Educator of the Year, honoring an individual who has made significant contributions to Native American education at the primary or secondary school level… The holiday’s program includes a free public program featuring Native American singers and dancers. Programs and displays featuring artists, storytellers, and hands-on activities for children are [also] offered… and a free buffalo stew lunch is available for all visitors.” (To learn more about the Native American Lakota man named Crazy Horse, click here.)
A similar holiday, Native American Heritage Day, is celebrated on the day after Thanksgiving in the United States. Since this day’s inception, it has expanded into Native American Heritage Month in November each year. (Also check out the Bureau of Indian Affairs information.)