Native Americans’ Day: Reconciliation through education and the arts
CRAZY HORSE MEMORIAL – The 23rd Native Americans’ Day program at Crazy Horse Memorial on Monday, Oct. 14, will feature the head of Oglala Lakota College, traditional dancing by Navajo (Dine’) member Art Red Horse and the 11th Crazy Horse Native American Educator of the Year.
South Dakota has the oldest state-sponsored holiday saluting American Indians, established in 1989 and begun with ceremonies in 1990 at Crazy Horse.
Monday’s 10 a.m. celebration program will be held regardless of weather, possibly indoors if necessary. Slight snow did not stop the first program, held outdoors.
This year’s keynote speaker is Thomas “Tom” Shortbull, the president of OLC, a nationally-accredited, tribally-chartered school that has educational centers in all nine districts on the Pine Ridge Reservation, as well as in Rapid City and Eagle Butte. The wide-ranging system has 1,400 enrolled students pursuing careers in teaching, nursing, human services, business, computer and vocational educational positions.
Shortbull, whose Lakota name is “Sunkmanitu Isnala” (Lone Wolf), earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of South Dakota at Vermillion. He taught at Flandreau Indian School and OLC, directed the Rapid City Indian Service Council, the Indian-State Government Relations task force, served in the South Dakota State Senate and on the Rapid City Regional Hospital board.
The program also will showcase the talents of Art Red Horse, a member of the Navajo Nation in Arizona. He attended South Dakota State University and taught high school art classes in Arizona before returning to South Dakota about five years ago. He is a painter and illustrator who also makes and plays flutes, and is a grass dancer at powwows and other events.
The nonprofit Memorial honors the heritage and cultures of North American Indians every day, but Native Americans’ Day is special, said Memorial CEO Ruth Ziolkowski.
“On the holiday, busloads of school children come for the educational programs, to meet our wonderful Native American artists and learn firsthand about their cultures. Adults get to see and hear the amazing Native dancers and speakers. Then they all can get together at the free buffalo stew lunch for more conversation,” she said.
“The Memorial is all about being a meeting place, where learning happens on a person-to-person basis. The visitors find out that the Native American culture is alive and vibrant and has contemporary leaders. That’s one reason why we think it is so important to recognize the annual Crazy Horse Native American Educator of the Year.”
The award recipient has significantly contributed to educating Native Americans. The award includes a $1,000 grant, either for the educator’s school library or special student projects. Crazy Horse has honored 11 people since starting the award in 2003.
Immediately following the program, if weather allows, there will be a blast on the mountain carving. Then all visitors are treated to the traditional free buffalo stew luncheon at the Memorial’s Laughing Water Restaurant.
Visitors and celebrants attending Native Americans’ Day activities are welcome to tour the Crazy Horse complex, including the Indian Museum of North America, home of one of the outstanding collections of Native American objects and art in the upper Midwest.
Crazy Horse Memorial is open every day and is just 17 miles to Mount Rushmore on the Crazy Horse Memorial Highway, U.S. 16/385 between Custer and Hill City. Call 605-673-4681 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for information.