Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Native American President ?

Obama 'adopted' by Crow Nation; now he's 'Barack Black Eagle'

(Photo: Tribal elders Hartford and Mary Black Eagle escort Obama to the ceremony. By Rick Wilking of Reuters.)

In Montana yesterday, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama was "adopted" by the Crow Nation in one of the more colorful events of the presidential campaign so far, USA TODAY's Fredreka Schouten reports. She writes that:

The Illinois senator was given a Crow name, Awe Kooda bilaxpak Kuuxshish, which means "one who helps people throughout the land." And, he was presented with several gifts -- including a bolo tie for him and intricately beaded buckskin baby-carrying pouches for his two daughters.

Obama, who was greeted by a large crowd -- many in traditional clothing -- pledged to deliver world-class health care and education to tribal nations and to "shake-up" the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. "Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans," he told the cheering crowd in Crow Agency, Mont.

Obama said that growing up as the biracial child of a single mother, "I know what it's like to be on the outside…I know what it's like to struggle." He promised to "never forget" his new Indian "family"

"You will be on my mind every day when I'm in the White House," he said. Montana's Democratic presidential primary is set for June 3.

At the end of his day, on the plane between Bozeman and Chicago, Obama talked with reporters about the beauty of the Montana landscape he had just left behind. He said that during the private ceremony where he was "adopted" by the tribe, he gained two "adoptive" parents, Crow elders Hartford and Mary Black Eagle, and donned a traditional vest.

He also said he was working on the pronunciation of his new Crow name, but also had gained another moniker by way of his new family: "Barack Black Eagle," he said smiling.


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