Senator John ThuneCelebrating Native American Day on the second Monday in October has become a tradition since 1990 when Governor George Mickelson signed a resolution designating the day as a holiday in South Dakota. This day serves as a reminder of the rich culture and traditions of our state's tribal communities.
As we observe this day, it is important to reflect upon the contributions Native Americans have made to our nation and our way of life. Native Americans have proudly served in our military forces since the time of the Revolutionary War. Had it not been for the unique Native language, we would not have had the successes that the Code Talkers brought during World Wars I and II.
We are also reminded of the unique problems that confront Native Americans, especially the Great Sioux Nation. Improving access to education, health care, and economic opportunity in Indian Country are challenges we still face today. By working together with tribal, state, and federal officials, we can overcome these challenges and increase the quality of life for all South Dakotans.
This day of celebration offers opportunities for people of all ages to learn about the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota peoples of South Dakota and their unique way of life, to enjoy their music and dance, their stories, their food, their rituals, and of course, the native hospitality.