Courtesy Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II (right) and Tribal External Affairs Director Steve Sitting Bear (left) displaying a flag made by children at Cannon Ball Elementary School as a gift for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Indian Country Prepares for Obama Visit to Standing Rock, as Chairman Dismisses Criticism

Suzette Brewer

With President Obama scheduled to arrive in North Dakota today, eyes of the nation are on the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe as tribal leaders and community members from across the Northern Plains gather in Cannon Ball for a historic visit by a sitting president and the First Lady.

Obama’s trip to Standing Rock is the first visit to an Indian reservation by a President since Bill Clinton visited the Navajo Nation in 2000. Additionally, it is the first time in U.S. History that a First Lady has accompanied the president to a Native community and celebration.

In an op-ed published by Indian Country Today Media Network last week, the President announced his plans to visit Cannon Ball, which was the home of Chief Sitting Bull, on Friday to participate in the tribe’s annual Flag Day Celebration Wacipi honoring Native American Veterans. Obama said he will announce the “next steps” that his administration will take to support job creation, education, and self-determination in Indian country.

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In an exclusive interview with ICTMN, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II discussed the importance of the President’s visit and its significance to native communities across the nation.

“President Obama has been a great friend and supporter of Indian country,” said Archambault, who will also give remarks and present the President and First Lady with gifts from his tribe. “No other President has ever done as much as he has done for Indian people. He is the first to hold a tribal summit every year, where he actively listens to tribal concerns and hears first-hand about the treaties that have been broken. He has put into place at least a dozen initiatives that respect the government-to-government relationship that tribes have with the federal government. We are proud that he chose our community as the platform for this important address.”

In addition to the annual tribal summit, Archambault cited other accomplishments that have benefitted the tribe’s during Obama’s time in office, including Executive Order 13175, requiring consultation and coordination among the federal agencies with the tribes; the settlement of longstanding legal disputes, including Cobell and Keepseagle; increased and expanded accessed to health care for tribal members through the Affordable Care Act; safer communities through the 2010 Tribal Law and Order Act; and sustainable economic development through the Recovery Act, among others.


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