Barack Obama visits 'Indian Country' in N Dakota

Written by AFP | Washington | Updated: Jun 14 2014, 21:04pm hrs
Barack Obama travelled to a Native American reservation in North Dakota, his first visit as US president to "Indian Country," where he focused on education and economic development.

The president, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama, visited the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe reservation in the central far northern state yesterday.

The Sioux, which include the Lakota and Dakota nations, are the people of Sitting Bull, the chief famous for his victory over the US cavalry in the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn.

Ahead of the visit officials announced a series of initiatives on improving education and economic development for Native American communities.

Obama began the visit with a stop at a local elementary school, where he and his wife met with tribal children in their classrooms.

When the couple arrived at Standing Rock, dancers in colourful tribal outfits greeted the Obamas, who met with senior tribal officials.

At an open air ceremony the president touted his administration's many advances in improving ties between the federal government and Native American communities.

However "I want to focus on the work that lies ahead," Obama said. "And I think we can follow the lead of Standing Rock's most famous resident, Chief Sitting Bull. He said, 'Let's put our minds together to see what we can build for our children.'"

Obama urged his audience to "Put our minds together to build more economic opportunity in Indian Country ... That means creating more jobs and supporting small businesses in places like Standing Rock."