Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 9, 2002 - Issue 54


pictograph divider


Honor Indians

by Jodi Rave Lee-Rapid City Journal

LINCOLN, Neb. - About this time last year, one of my Lakota uncles called me at work. He had an idea and wanted to talk about it.

My uncle is a tall, quiet, reserved man not given to small talk, so his phone call was memorable. He suggested I write a story encouraging the creation of a day that would honor the warriors, chiefs and peacemakers of our past. It was a good idea, I said, but unless someone was trying to make it happen it didn't leave much for me to report on.

I talked to my uncle again last week. He still hasn't given up his dream that we honor the indigenous leaders of yesteryear. "If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be here," he said. "We should honor them for their fighting for the people, the land."

He continues to honor the great leaders in his own way, searching for their burial sites, praying in their memory.

My uncle isn't alone in seeking honor and remembrance for indigenous people. More than a decade ago, Mike Graham of the Cherokee Nation had a similar idea. Like my uncle, he dreamed of a day that would give recognition to indigenous people.

But Graham wants more. He believes a national holiday should be created to recognize Native people. In 1988, he took his idea to the Cherokee Nation Tribal Council. The tribe, one of the largest in the country, then passed a resolution calling for national holiday, a Native American Day.

Graham's dream is still alive. His grassroots organization, United Native America, has hand-collected more than 100,000 petition signatures from those in support of a national holiday. During the past year, the group's Web site,, has netted nearly 18,000 online signatures.

It's time the United States commemorate indigenous people with a national holiday. The original habitants of this country should not be forgotten. The people who modeled the foundations for democracy in this country should not be forgotten. The warriors who fought to defend this country before they were ever U.S. citizens should not be forgotten.

Yet, too often, they are.

These days, indigenous people are left to commemorate holidays honoring the beliefs of those who arrived and stayed in our homeland. We get days off for Christmas, Thanksgiving and the Fourth of July. Yes, in this country, we even set a day aside for Columbus, a man who initiated the first wave of genocide against indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere, a man so embroiled in controversy in his day he was sent back to Spain in chains.

Showing good common sense, South Dakota dropped the holiday and created a Native American Day in its place. Other states should follow suit. And a bipartisan effort should be made to make Indigenous People's Day a reality.

My uncle's heart is in a good place; this country's decision makers should follow.

Jodi Rave Lee - a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota - writes a column for the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star and Lee News Network. She can be reached at 402-473-7240 or

United Native America


pictograph divider


Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


Canku Ota Logo


Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Thank You