Today is Indigenous Peoples’ Day! The day was started as an alternative to Columbus Day, to bring recognition to native peoples’ histories and stories. Last year, President Joe Biden made the first-ever presidential proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day giving the holiday celebrated in cities and states across the US an increased national spotlight. However, the proclamation doesn’t make it a federal holiday… that would require Congress to pass legislation cementing the day in the US calendar of federally recognized holidays. Only four states recognize the day as a regional holiday, The District of Columbia, Maine, Nebraska, New Mexico, and South Dakota.
Suicide rates in Native American communities are rising…In 2018, an 18-state study showed how suicide unduly affects American Indian or Alaska Native populations. A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of 49 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia found the trend is worsening. Non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native suicide rates rose nearly 20% from 2015 to 2020, compared to less than 1% in the U.S. overall. More research is needed to determine if the climbing rates is due to a lack of mental health services in rural areas.
Hundreds of Natives across South Dakota are in Sioux Falls today to celebrate the comeback of the Native American Day Parade two years after the COVID-19 pandemic put the event on hiatus. The parade’s theme this year is “Wounspewicakyag Hena Ob Maunipi.” In Dakota, that translates to “We Walk With Our Teachers.” “It means your teacher in life,” said Shaina Yellowback, a planning committee member for the parade. Along with the parade there is a prayer ceremony and a fun run.