At the urging of longtime Native Sun News editor Tim Giago, Governor George Mickelson proclaimed 1990 as the Year of Reconciliation to honor of the 100th anniversary of Wounded Knee. The Year of Reconciliation was intended to health the relationships between the state and tribal governments in South Dakota.
However, that was not the only challenge Giago posed to Governor Mickelson. Giago also requested that Governor Mickelson take up an effort to nix Columbus Day in South Dakota in favor of Native Americans’ Day. With a strong lobbying effort, the South Dakota Legislature was swayed to rename the day.
On October 8, 1990 Mickelson invited Giago to celebrate the Year of Reconciliation at the Crazy Horse Memorial. The event also commemorated the first Native Americans’ Day, which would be held later that week. South Dakota was the first state in the nation to rename Columbus Day in favor of celebrating the rich histories and cultures of American Indians.
Today, several states and municipalities have chosen to rename Columbus Day, with the most recent additions including the state of Vermont as well as Phoenix, Arizona and Denver, Colorado. Meanwhile, the states of Alaska and Hawaii have never officially celebrated Columbus Day. Alaska officially adopted an Indigenous Peoples Day in 2015, while Hawaii has celebrated Discoverer’s Day, in remembrance of the Polynesian explorers who originally settled on the islands.