Crazy Horse educates youth on Native American culture
Native Americans' Day is part of what makes South Dakota unique.
The Mount Rushmore State is one of the few states in the country that uses today to celebrate Native American culture, instead of Christopher Columbus.
Since 1990, South Dakota has honored the second Monday of October as Native Americans' Day; marking it in history as a day to observe Native American culture.
Starr Chief Eagle, Hoop Dancer, says, "It brings about that importance of what used to be and what still is here. Over the course of generations, I feel like a lot has been lost. But this is the day we can stand together and say the Lakota culture is still here."
And Crazy Horse was the first home of the Native Americans' Day celebration, by request of former Governor George Mickelson.
Jump ahead 26 years and the tradition is still alive today.
Community members and students from around the Black Hills gathered at the memorial to learn about Lakota culture.
Hoop dancer Starr Chief Eagle put on a show for students today... teaching the art of hoop dancing, she says the most important generation to teach is the youth.
Chief Eagle says, "Starting with the schools, it makes it a lot more fun and a lot more interactive. I feel like kids really catch on and they're not afraid to ask questions."
Education remained the theme throughout, making several points to the kids that no matter the race, we are one.
Laurie Becvar, COO and President of Crazy Horse, says, "We are all related and reconciliation among native and non-natives is critical to our future."
The event came to a close by awarding Educator of the Year, honoring someone who has made strides for Native American education.
This year's winner wasn't who you would imagine to be your average educator.
Todd Albertson with the South Dakota Highway Patrol took home the thousand dollar prize, but he turned it around and gave it back to Crazy Horse to continue their youth programming.
Todd Albertson, Educator of the Year, "I just personally take it to a little bit more of a level with my community that I live in. I really enjoying seeing kids grow and accept you as not so much a law enforcement officer but as another person in their community."