- Slug: BC-CNS-Obama Tribes,940
- Photos, interactive graphic available (thumbnails, captions below)
By PAULINA PINEDA and JULIANNE DEFILIPPIS
Cronkite News Service
WASHINGTON – On a campaign visit to the Crow Nation in Montana in 2008, then-Sen. Barack Obama promised to improve nation-to-nation relationships as president, vowing that Native Americans would “be on my mind every day that I’m in the White House.”
It may not have been every day, but after six years the administration is getting generally high marks from tribal experts who say the president has given tribal relations a high profile. It comes at a time when landmark legislation for Native Americans has passed.
Gains range from an overhaul of tribal courts to a multibillion-dollar settlement of a longstanding tribal suit against the government, but include lighter policy statements like the declaration of National Native American Heritage Month and presidential visits to reservations.
“I certainly feel the commitment from the administration has been one of the strongest we’ve seen among a number of different administrations,” said Eric Stegman, a former Senate Indian Affairs Committee counsel.