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On My Upcoming Trip to Indian Country

President Barack Obama
6/5/14

Six years ago, I made my first trip to Indian country. I visited the Crow Nation in Montana—an experience I’ll never forget. I left with a new Crow name, an adoptive Crow family, and an even stronger commitment to build a future that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.

Next week, I’ll return to Indian country, when Michelle and I visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball, North Dakota. We’re eager to visit this reservation, which holds a special place in American history as the home of Chief Sitting Bull. And while we’re there, I’ll announce the next steps my Administration will take to support jobs, education, and self-determination in Indian country. 

As president, I’ve worked closely with tribal leaders, and I’ve benefited greatly from their knowledge and guidance. That’s why I created the White House Council on Native American Affairs—to make sure that kind of partnership is happening across the federal government. And every year, I host the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders from every federally recognized tribe are invited to meet with members of my Administration. Today, honoring the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian country isn’t the exception; it’s the rule. And we have a lot to show for it. 

Together, we’ve strengthened justice and tribal sovereignty. We reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, giving tribes the power to prosecute people who commit domestic violence in Indian country, whether they’re Native American or not. I signed the Tribal Law and Order Act, which strengthened the power of tribal courts to hand down appropriate criminal sentences. And I signed changes to the Stafford Act to let tribes directly request disaster assistance, because when disasters strike, you shouldn’t have to wait for a middleman to get the help you need.

Together, we’ve resolved longstanding disputes. We settled a discrimination suit by Native American farmers and ranchers, and we’ve taken steps to make sure that all federal farm loan programs are fair to Native Americans from now on. And I signed into law the Claims Resolution Act, which included the historic Cobell settlement, making right years of neglect by the Department of the Interior and leading to the establishment of the Land Buy-Back Program to consolidate Indian lands and restore them to tribal trust lands. 

Together, we’ve increased Native Americans’ access to quality, affordable health care. One of the reasons I fought so hard to pass the Affordable Care Act is that it permanently reauthorized the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which provides care to many in tribal communities. And under the Affordable Care Act, Native Americans across the country now have access to comprehensive, affordable coverage, some for the first time. 

Together, we’ve worked to expand opportunity. My Administration has built roads and high-speed internet to connect tribal communities to the broader economy. We’ve made major investments in job training and tribal colleges and universities. We’ve tripled oil and gas revenues on tribal lands, creating jobs and helping the United States become more energy independent. And we’re working with tribes to get more renewable energy projects up and running, so tribal lands can be a source of renewable energy and the good local jobs that come with it.

We can be proud of the progress we’ve made together. But we need to do more, especially on jobs and education. Native Americans face poverty rates far higher than the national average – nearly 60 percent in some places. And the dropout rate of Native American students is nearly twice the national rate. These numbers are a moral call to action. As long as I have the honor of serving as President, I’ll do everything I can to answer that call. 

That’s what my trip next week is all about. I’m going to hear from as many people as possible—ranging from young people to tribal leaders—about the successes and challenges they face every day. And I’ll announce new initiatives to expand opportunity in Indian country by growing tribal economies and improving Indian education. 

As I’ve said before, the history of the United States and tribal nations is filled with broken promises. But I believe that during my Administration, we’ve turned a corner together. We’re writing a new chapter in our history—one in which agreements are upheld, tribal sovereignty is respected, and every American Indian and Alaskan Native who works hard has the chance to get ahead. That’s the promise of the American Dream. And that’s what I’m working for every day—in every village, every city, every reservation—for every single American. 

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Michael Madrid's picture
Great news! This is a far cry from the Republican Rhetoric which is: if you're dark-skinned you must be illegal. Of course the Greedy Old Pigs will politicize it all. Like Paul Begala said in this morning's news (regarding the GOP furor over Berghal's prisoner transfer), "Obama could cure cancer and the GOP would complain that he put Oncologists out of work." It would take another person of dark skin to even REALIZE that Natives still matter.
Michael Madrid
Anthony Janis's picture
I am glad he is doing this and I hope all that get to speak with him personally ask him to say no to Keystone XL Pipeline, no to fracking, no to uranium mining, no to destroying Mother Earth and yes to renewable energy. For the children and grandchildren.
Anthony Janis
value116's picture
As President Obama tells it, there is hopefulness with the "Acts" and "programs". Let's see what comes of the visit to Standing Rock. Again, I hope there is continued renewal and strength. However, I remember President Clinton's visit to Pine Ridge. It is up to each of us to decide how far we've come. Tap the spirit inside our lives; get in touch with our greatness; use President Obama's visit to our best advantage to move forward, but don't wait for a "leader" to save us. We have the power and the greatness in our lives to save ourselves.
value116
Peo peo's picture
A lot of I I I and Me me me there. tell him to bring Leonard with him or stay home.
Peo peo
leeanntallbear's picture
Two sitting Presidents, both Democrats have visited the Dakota's, which are, in the political vernacular, "red states" meaning majority Republican or might as well be. As a Native American life long voting Democrat for over 40 years from South Dakota, I think it would have been a refreshing change if our President, as he winds down his presidency, had been advised to visit Tribes that have become economic power houses, maybe like the Chickasaw in Oklahoma, another Tribe in a "red" state; or perhaps New York, where the President could have also addressed the mascot issue without having to really say anything and also celebrate the legacy to democracy of the Great Iroquois Confederacy. I guess my point is as a Native "elder" I want to show that we are more than poverty stricken dysfunctional, etc, etc, etc.
leeanntallbear
indianmedicine's picture
This present Administration is responding to the "Red Communities" need for Official Recognition and Reservation needs......................................................... .................................................................................................................................... I believe that President Obama is genuine in this "Reaching Out" to The Red Peoples within The United States............................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................... I also believe that this Administration has and will continue to correct the injustice and abuse of Native Americans within Property Rights, Civil & Criminal Justice, and Commerce on Reservation Lands, and Ethnic Programs where The Native Communities can Help themselves - not on measures of "Welfare Programs". ..................................................................................................................................... Personal Integrity and Respect of Self is what the "Red Societies" need, NOT hand outs.............................................................................................................................. I believe that this Administration is laying foundation for future Government and Nation's Relationships to "First Peoples" in The United States............................ ...................................................................................................................................... We must remember, that One Person can not go it alone; and that cooperative positive responses from Government is when the True Issues are addressed for what they are................................................................................................................ ....................................................................................................................................... In substance, we are talking Property & Economic Rights and Human Rights in The Reservation System that have been swept aside Past, Present & Future............. ........................................................................................................................................ Thank you Mr. President for Listening, for so many gone before you claim "Deaf & Dumb" as an excuse for Non-Performance in Office. -Indian Medicine-................ ........................................................................................................................................
indianmedicine
Chooj's picture
"... and every American Indian and Alaskan Native who works hard has the chance to get ahead. That’s the promise of the American Dream."-----Ah, yes. That American Dream.
Chooj
Pryor Creek's picture
Di'i Shoda Mr. President! As someone who grew up in Crow this is wonderful news, but maybe you shouldn't have told the Lakota that you were adopted down this way. :) All joking aside, the commitment by this administration to indigenous issues has been a wonderful thing. The trust settlement changed a lot of lives for the better. Keep it up! A'ho!
Pryor Creek
bigsteps's picture
Anyone who is supporting this Piece of Dung who is nothing but a Narcissistic Pathological Liar is just asking for more abuse from the Government! They don't care about Indian People at all, How many signed treaties have been Kept? Answer=NONE Did you know the KKK were all DEMOCRATS ANDREW JACKSON - His enthusiastic followers created the modern Democratic Party.
bigsteps
bobfromva's picture
We are anxiously looking forward to covering this event for NATV. As always, we continue to provide quality programming on US Senate and The White House issues as it relates to Native America!
bobfromva

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