Obama and his wife, Michelle, will travel to the Standing Rock
Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota, to show the
administration's commitment to "upholding our strong and crucial
nation-to-nation relationship," the White House said.
During the visit the couple will meet with tribal leaders and young
people before attending a ceremony that honors Native American
veterans with dance and song.
The trip is unusual for Obama, who has devoted most of his U.S.
travel to highlight programs on the broader economy and other
domestic policy priorities.
Obama courted the American Indian vote as a White House candidate in
2008. He became an honorary member of a tribe in Montana, the Crow
Nation, and took on a native name: Black Eagle, which means "one who
helps all people of this land."
Since entering office Obama has hosted meetings with tribal leaders
every year and proposed a budget increase to support tribal
communities. His administration has also settled a series of legal
disputes and breaches of trust lawsuits by Indian tribes against the
"We can be proud of the progress we’ve made together. But we need to
do more, especially on jobs and education," Obama wrote last week in
an opinion piece announcing his trip.
"As I’ve said before, the history of the United States and tribal
nations is filled with broken promises. But I believe that during my
administration, we’ve turned a corner together."
The initiatives Obama will announce on Friday include reforms for
the Bureau of Indian Education, efforts to bring high-speed Internet
to tribal schools, and training for teachers.
He will also propose ways to ease regulatory hurdles for
infrastructure and energy development and initiatives to boost small
businesses owned by Native Americans.
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The trip is part of a recent push by the administration to advance
rights for Native Americans.
Last week Attorney General Eric Holder traveled to North Dakota to
meet with a tribal consultation conference where he spoke of
increased prosecutions of crimes against American Indians and
expanded outreach to tribes across the country.
On Monday Holder proposed requiring voting districts to place at
least one polling site on tribal land within their territory and
said action was necessary to improve voting access for American
The agency's No. 3 official Tony West has also spent the past week
in Alaska, meeting with the National Congress of American Indians.
On Wednesday he announced support for giving Native Americans in
Alaska the ability to issue and enforce domestic violence protection
orders. The 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
had largely exempted that group.
The 2013 law also gave tribes the ability to prosecute non-Indians
who assault Indian spouses or partners.
(Additional reporting by Aruna Viswanatha and Julia Edwards; Editing
by Lisa Shumaker)
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