O’siyo. On Friday June 13, 2014, President Obama made the first official visit to Indian Country since his election into office. Obama is the fourth sitting President to visit Indian Country in over 80 years, which makes this day an historical one for the U. S., and for Native Americans. Since taking office, President Obama and his Administration have promoted better health care, and have made education and economic improvements within Tribal Nations in America.
“When President Barack Obama touches down Friday on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North Dakota, he’ll likely find the curious paradox of life in Indian Country. America’s reservations are at once heartbreaking and hopeful, with the former more often than not overshadowing the latter.
Obama is set to become just the fourth sitting American president to visit an Indian reservation. Calvin Coolidge traveled to South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation in 1927, three years after he signed the Indian Citizenship Act that granted some Indians American citizenship. Franklin Roosevelt visited North Carolina’s Cherokee Nation in 1936. And in 1999, Bill Clinton also visited Pine Ridge, a little more than a century after U.S. soldiers massacred hundreds of Lakota men, women and children there at Wounded Knee.
The White House says Obama’s return trip to Indian Country will include meeting with young people, and that the president will focus his speech to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe on job creation, education and his administration’s commitment to upholding our strong and crucial nation-to-nation relationship. President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama also plan on attending the reservation’s annual Cannon Ball Flag Day Celebration, which honors Native American veterans.
For some on Standing Rock, the president’s trip is a source of excitement and long overdue acknowledgement. The last time Obama visited Indian country, as a candidate in 2008, he was welcomed with pounding drums and cheers. Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans – the first Americans, Obama told the crowd that day, vowing to improve the health care and educational opportunities of American Indians. The Crow adopted Obama into the nation and into the Black Eagle family, giving him the name Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuuxshish or One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.
It’s just encouraging as heck to have a visit like this, said David Archambault Sr., a longtime educator from the Standing Rock reservation and father of the tribe’s chairman. What the president has done is like night and day. Our history shows that it’s as if no one has any compassion for us. We are here and we have resources and throughout history people have wanted to take them from us. And for the first time we have someone looking out for us.” Read more.
“I believe that one day, we’re going to be able to look back on these years and say that this was a turning point. This was the moment when we began to build a strong middle class in Indian Country; the moment when businesses, large and small, began opening up in reservations; the moment when we stopped repeating the mistakes of the past, and began building a better future together, one that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.” ~ President Barack Obama~December 2, 2011
- Why is President Obama’s visit to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation viewed as being historical?
- Which three U.S. presidents visited Indian Nations before Obama?
- What year was President Obama adopted into the Crow nation?
- Who is David Archambault Sr.?
- What is “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative?