President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Cannon Ball Flag Day Powwow on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. June 13, 2014. Official White House photo by Pete Souza
President Barack Obama is returning to Indian Country this week. Obama visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in June 2014. The trip to the North Dakota portion of the reservation was his first to Indian Country since entering the White House in January 2009. The president is now heading to the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma on Wednesday. The tribe's jurisdictional area in the southeastern part of the state was designated a Promise Zone in January 2014 as part of an initiative to fight poverty. "I am honored by a presidential visit to the Choctaw Nation in Durant," Chief Gary Batton said on Friday. "President Obama will be discussing the expansion of economic opportunity in the Choctaw Nation, a subject very important to our future."
Gary Batton. Photo from Facebook
The Promise Zone designation and Obama's visit come as the Choctaw Nation enters a new era in its history. Batton won election as chief of the tribe on Saturday with over 86 percent of the vote, according to the unofficial results. "I want to personally thank everyone for showing their support and selecting me as your Chief," Batton said after the vote. "It is very humbling and I ask for your continued prayers as our Chahta people move into the future." Batton previously served as assistant chief. He was elevated to chief in April 2014 following the retirement of Greg Pyle, who led the nation's third-largest tribe for 17 years.
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