Young Native Americans Meet President - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Young Native Americans Meet President

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Six years ago, the President promised to visit Indian Country before he left office. And today, he kept that vow.

There's a long history of turmoil between the federal government and native american tribes. But today's visit gave many tribal members hope for the future.

It was an historic day on the Standing Rock Reservation. President Barack Obama addressed tribal members at the Flag Day Celebration. But first he spoke with tribal leaders about important issues in Indian Country.

"It really strengthened my respect for President Obama, because he knew that in the treaties we are dual citizens. We are Lakota and also American citizens," says Tribal Council member Phyllis Young.

But it wasn't only tribal and state leaders who had the chance to speak to the president and the first lady. Six young Native Americans were selected out of a pool of 20 students.

"It was a really powerful talk. It was really emotional, and they were really laid back about it. They came up and gave us hugs. And they told us that they were really proud of us. Michelle told us that she loved us. And it was just an amazing, amazing experience. I am so thankful I got to be a part of it," says 17-year-old Gracey Claymore.

Kendrick Eagle, 21, also spoke candidly with President Obama.

"He was talking about basketball. And he was like, 'Oh. You know, I'll fly you out to D.C. to come show me your jump shot.' So I said, 'I'm looking forward to it,'" says Eagle.

Other children danced and sang before the President at the ceremony this afternoon.

Claymore says the President makes her believe she can accomplish anything she puts her mind to.

"He really inspired me to keep going, to keep pushing through all my struggles and to be who I am. And maybe someday, I'll be in the White House," says Claymore.

The President says it's time to look toward the future and follow the lead of Chief Sitting Bull.

"Today, I want to focus on the work that lies ahead. And I think we can He said, 'Let's put our minds together to see what we can build for our children.'"

He says it's time promote education, advance justice in tribal communities, and build more economic opportunity in Indian Country.

The President said while he only spent an hour with the young Native Americans he met, he fell in love with them. And he told the audience they should be proud of their children.

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