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Harlan McKosato: Reflecting on Obama's trip to Indian Country

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: barack obama, harlan mckosato, john trudell, north dakota, standing rock sioux

President Barack Obama speaks at the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, on June 13, 2014. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Harlan McKosato ask activist and poet John Trudell for his opinion on the efforts of President Barack Obama in Indian Country:
I recently spoke with the acclaimed Native activist and poet John Trudell and asked him about his opinion of the Obama administration. “I don’t trust them. I think the whole entire political system is corrupt, whether it’s the Republicans and George W. Bush, or the Democrats and Obama. I think they all serve the corporate fate. In general, the system is filled with lies and tokenism. As Native people, we’re so far down the list because we don’t have the numbers, and the politicians just show up for photo ops.

“When you look at the sovereignty, the economics, the cultural well-being of the Native people [Obama] hasn’t done one thing,” said Trudell. “He’s just like every other U.S. president. I think a lot of Native people are just glad to finally be acknowledged. You look at the time Obama has been in office, and the teen suicide rates on reservations are [still] out of control, the poverty is out of control. When you’re surrounded by these statistical dynamics, how can you have self-esteem? Being acknowledged is an illusion. It might make you feel good for a little while, but it doesn’t change the overall quality of life for our children.”

In his speech, the president referenced Sitting Bull’s famous quote, “Let us put our minds together to see what we can build for our children.” Obama added, “There’s no denying that for some Americans the deck has been stacked against them, sometimes for generations. And that’s been the case for many Native Americans. But if we’re working together, we can make things better. We’ve got a long way to go, but if we do our part, I believe that we can turn the corner. We can break old cycles. We can give our children a better future.”

Only time will tell.

Get the Story:
Harlan McKosato: For Natives, a split in opinion on Obama (The Santa Fe New Mexican 7/6)

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Letter: Questionable tactics for Obama's visit to Indian Country (06/23)
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