All Souls Church, Sioux Falls, South Dakota: Community-Wide Events for Native American Day
Since 2013, All Souls Church has filled a void in its city by taking the lead in organizing annual events commemorating Native American Day, which falls on the second Monday of October.
South Dakota is the only state in the U.S. that recognizes the second Monday in October as a state holiday honoring Native Americans. “We thought the largest city in South Dakota needed to have events honoring this holiday and the nine tribes of the Great Sioux Nation that call South Dakota home,” said Susan Randall, member of the All Souls Church Social Justice Committee, which coordinates the events.
Events have included talks and exhibitions by indigenous artists; symposiums exploring the Doctrine of Discovery; forums on Native-White relations; and community Common Read activities. The congregation also created a children’s religious education curriculum centered on Rosebud Sioux author Joseph Marshall’s book The Lakota Way.
In addition to funds and in-kind support from All Souls Church, funding for the annual observances and community-wide educational activities has come from several sources over the years, including a UUA seed grant, the Standing On The Side of Love grants program, the South Dakota Humanities Council, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation.
This year's events included "Native Soul," a presentation by artist and cultural historian Jerry Fogg, an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and a talk on Native-White Relations by Leroy "JR" LaPlante, South Dakota's First Cabinet level Secretary for Tribal Relations and an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.
Evaluations from attendees consistently indicate strong support for continuing the Native American Day events and affirm that participants gain insight and understanding. Here is a sampling of comments from participants:
- Art has ways to speak to the heart and mind. We may not be able to interpret the words, but we can interpret the emotions.
- I really am glad to hear Jerry talk about the components of his art and the meaning behind these elements of his mixed media compositions. Also, was enlightened by Rev. Armida’s words on art and spirituality and the hard truths images convey.
- I was raised in N. California so my knowledge of this state's Natives is somewhat limited. Tough stories of the past are still stories and help us understand who we are as individuals.
- Excellent historical and legal overview of the Doctrine of Discovery.
- Knowledge is power, but all must be made aware, more work to be done.