During his eighth and final White House Tribal Nations Conference, President Barack Hussein Obama delivered an intimate message to Native Americans.
“This whole time, I’ve heard you,” he told tribal leaders who gathered in Washington, D.C., in September 2016. But Obama’s comments were intended for a wider audience—all Natives in their respective home communities. “I have seen you. And I hope I’ve done right by you.”
The remarks, which came near the end of Obama’s presidency, revealed an emotional connection to Native Americans, said Kevin Washburn, who served as assistant secretary for Indian Affairs under Obama from 2012 to 2016.
“Early on, as a candidate, Obama identified Indian country as something that was important to him, an area where he personally wanted to make a difference,” said Washburn, a law professor at the University of New Mexico and a member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma. “From the beginning, we saw that he was intellectually committed to Indian country. By the end, he was emotionally committed. I don’t think we’ve seen that before.”
Obama, whose two-term presidency ends in January, began championing for Indians prior to taking office. In fact, Obama announced his federal Indian policy six months before defeating John McCain in the 2008 election.
The full two page article is at ICTMN.