Obama the First “American Indian” President

Obama speaks to the Tribal Nations Conference (Source: White House)

If Bill Clinton can be the first black president, then I suppose Barack Obama can be the first American Indian president. That is what Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Nation dubbed the President during a Tribal Nations Conference attended by 500 tribal leaders.

“Think about it for a second,” Cladoosby said. “The president loves basketball. He has an Indian name, he knows what it’s like to be poor and he hasn’t forgotten where he came from. And his theme song is ‘Hail to the Chief.’ I think he definitely qualifies as the first American Indian president. “

Native Americans have had the short end of the stick for centuries so if they want to call Obama one of their own, then that’s fine. However, I’m just guessing that Cladoosby is using the phrase with a little tongue in cheek. Nevertheless, Obama has pushed strongly for Native American rights in the last four years.

Obama was even adopted by the now deceased Crow leader Sonny Black Eagle in the 2008 campaign. He was given the name “Awe Kooda bilaxpak Kuuxshish” which means “one who helps people throughout the land.” With that fact, Cladoosby may not be far off in his description of the President.

Nevertheless, using “Hail to the Chief” as part of the argument for designating Obama an American Indian sounds more like the punch line in a joke than an argument for real Native American lineage, adopted or not. Then there’s the basketball thing. I’m not sure how that relates to Native Americans outside of it being a popular sport.

However one wants to read this, there is one positive. It beats the days of the nineteenth century when presidents were breaking treaties and taking advantage of the honorable deals that Native Americans made.


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