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Native Americans' Day in the United States

The second Monday of October annually marks Columbus Day in many parts the United States but not all states or region follow this observance. Instead, they celebrate other events on the day. For example, South Dakota's official holiday on this date is Native Americans' Day (also known as Native American Day), while people in Berkeley, California, celebrate Indigenous People's Day.

Is Native Americans' Day a Public Holiday?

Native Americans' Day is not a public holiday. Businesses have normal opening hours.

Many Native Americans take part in celebrating Native Americans' Day or Indigenous People's Day in the United States through activities such as pow wows.
Many Native Americans take part in celebrating Native Americans' Day or Indigenous People's Day in the United States through activities such as pow wows.
©iStockphoto.com/Juan Monino

What Do People Do?

In South Dakota people celebrate Native Americans' Day through learning from educational resources that focus on the traditions, culture and background of Native Americans. It is a day to celebrate the heritage of Native Americans and for both native and non-native cultures to unite so the many aspects of native culture can be shared.

In Berkeley, California, some organizations, community groups and churches support the day through awareness-raising activities about the history, culture and traditions of indigenous peoples of the United States. Cultural activities such as markets and pow wows, which are gatherings of North America's indigenous people, are held. In modern times, pow wows involve dancing, singing, socializing and celebrating Native American culture.

Public Life

Native Americans' Day is a public holiday in South Dakota and in Berkeley, California, instead of Columbus Day. Government offices are closed, as are many businesses and schools. Services such as police and fire departments, as well as emergency health services, may be available on this day. It is also a statewide observance in all of California on the fourth Friday of September.

Background

In 1989 the South Dakota legislature unanimously passed legislation to proclaim 1990 as the “Year of Reconciliation” for Native Americans and to change Columbus Day to Native American Day. Since 1990 the second Monday in October has been celebrated as Native American Day in South Dakota.

In 1992 Columbus Day was no longer observed in Berkeley, California, but Indigenous People's Day would be celebrated instead on the second Monday in October.  The city has been known for its political correctness and its officials designated 1992 as the Year of Indigenous People. In addition, in 1998 the California Assembly declared Native American Day as an official annual statewide observance on the fourth Friday of September.

Native Americans' Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010FriSep 24Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2010MonOct 11Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2010MonOct 11Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCalifornia*
2011FriSep 23Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2011MonOct 10Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2011MonOct 10Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCalifornia*
2012FriSep 28Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2012MonOct 8Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2012MonOct 8Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCalifornia*
2013FriSep 27Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2013MonOct 14Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2013MonOct 14Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCalifornia*
2014FriSep 26Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2014MonOct 13Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2014MonOct 13Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
2015FriSep 25Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2015MonOct 12Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2015MonOct 12Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceAlaska
2015MonOct 12Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
2016FriSep 23Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2016MonOct 10Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2016MonOct 10Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceAlaska
2016MonOct 10Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
2017FriSep 22Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2017MonOct 9Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2017MonOct 9Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceAlaska
2017MonOct 9Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
2018FriSep 28Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2018MonOct 8Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2018MonOct 8Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceAlaska
2018MonOct 8Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
2019FriSep 27Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2019MonOct 14Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2019MonOct 14Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceAlaska
2019MonOct 14Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
2020FriSep 25Native Americans' DayLocal observanceCalifornia
2020MonOct 12Native Americans' DayLocal observanceSouth Dakota
2020MonOct 12Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceAlaska
2020MonOct 12Indigenous People's DayLocal observanceCA*, MN*, WA*
* Only some parts of California, Minnesota, and Washington observe this holiday.

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