Noem Draws Bipartisan Ire For Demanding South Dakotans Celebrate ‘Native American Heritage’ Instead of Columbus Day

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Republican Governor of South Dakota Kristi Noem has faced criticism from both sides of the political spectrum on Sunday for telling state residents “don’t wait until Monday to celebrate Native American heritage” in an official statement. Noem only referred to October 11 as Native Americans’ Day, and omitted any reference to the date’s long national significance as Columbus Day.

“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 than the rest of the nation,” Noem said. “In South Dakota, we recognize Monday, October 11th, as Native Americans’ Day. We recognize that the Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota people and their culture is part of who we are collectively as South Dakotans.  We recognize them traditionally as the O’ceti Sakowin meaning the Seven Council Fires — more commonly known throughout the world as the Great Sioux Nation.”

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The statement continued, “In 1990, Governor George S. Mickelson lead the ‘Year of Reconciliation.’ It’s been my goal in public office to continue that mission of recognizing and respecting the nine tribal nations that share our geography. It is my goal to come to the table with tribal leaders to support tribal communities, businesses, and families.”

“This holiday weekend, I encourage every South Dakotan to reach into their own community to support Native-owned businesses, learn more about the local Native American culture, and recognize the shared values we have as South Dakotans,” Noem concluded. “Don’t wait until Monday to celebrate Native American heritage.”

Noem’s tweet about the statement struggled to find support from either side of the aisle.