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President Obama to visit Standing Rock Sioux Tribe next week

Crow Chairman Carl Venne introduces Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) at a rally on the Crow Reservation in Montana. Robert Old Horn is on the left. May 19, 2008
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) visited the Crow Reservation in Montana. File Photo © Lise King/The Native Voice

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota next week.

The visit will be Obama's first to Indian Country as president. In an opinion published in Indian Country Today, he said he will announce some new initiatives to improve tribal economies and education.

"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," Obama said. "As long as I have the honor of serving as President, I’ll do everything I can to answer that call."

Obama's Indian policy adviser, Jodi Gillette, is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The reservation straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

During the presidential campaign in 2008, Obama visited the Crow Reservation in Montana. Since winning the election, he has met with tribal leaders during the annual White House Conference.

“The President and First Lady’s visit is a milestone for Indian Country and I welcome them to my state. This trip will enable North Dakota to show off the rich culture, history, and traditions of our tribes, while also raising awareness about the challenges too many Native American families face, such as extreme poverty and abuse. I’ve been able to spend a great deal of time in Indian Country over the years and have seen both the community spirit as well as the problems facing our tribes,” Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), a member of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, said in a press relase.

The last president to visit Indian Country while in office was Bill Clinton. He went to the Pine Ridge Reservation in 1999 and the Navajo Nation in 2000.

Get the Story:
President Barack Obama: On My Upcoming Trip to Indian Country (Indian Country Today 6/5)

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President Obama to visit North Dakota reservation next month (5/26)

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