Senator Heidi Heitkamp [D-ND]

Sen. Heitkamp Reflects on Historic Presidential Visit to North Dakota

Vincent Schilling
6/24/14

In the wake of the historic Presidential visit to Indian country by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, Senator Heidi Heitkamp [D-ND], talked to ICTMN about being the receiving Senator of the day.

Soon after the President and First Lady arrived in North Dakota, Heitkamp joined them on Marine One and made their way to the Standing Rock Sioux celebration in Cannon Ball where the President and First Lady met with tribal leaders, talked with Native youth and enjoyed a powwow celebration.

Heitkamp also had an opportunity to speak at length with the Obama’s to share her concerns about Indian country and her recent initiatives to include her cosponsored legislation to support Native American language immersion programs and her first Native American Veterans Summit to connect Native vets with resources, support, and benefits.

For more information about Senator Heitkamp, visit www.heitkamp.senate.gov

Last week [week of June 13] was quite a week for Indian country.

The country got some insight into a powwow announcer.

You were the receiving Senator of the President and First Lady. How did that feel?

We shared such a concern for all of these issues. I was proud to show him the great traditions that we have down in Standing Rock. I was proud to be part of the day but this really was about a day for the Standing Rock Sioux Nation.

Yes, I was there and I was given a chance to participate, but what I really appreciated was how respectful they were of tribal sovereignty.

What types of things did you talk about with the President and First Lady – including the issues of course, but anything else?

I spent a lot of time visiting with the President about Native American housing, I think that is one of the critical issues and concerns that we have regarding how we are going to revitalize and improve conditions for Native American people.

I also spoke about the critical need to not only build more housing, but we need to destroy the housing that I think is dangerous to kids, such as houses with black mold. We need to make sure those homes are replaced.

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