WASHINGTON— To an enthusiastic and jubilant crowd of over 500 tribal leaders from throughout Indian Country, President Barack Obama told the crowd “we’re all one family” on Wednesday afternoon. The tribal leaders packed the grand ballroom of the Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C.
The president’s speech ended the sixth White House Tribal Nations conference held since he became president of the United States. Numerous programs were announced involving Native youth during the conference.
First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a lunch guest as she and President Barack Obama have lunch with youth from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe at We The Pizza/Good Stuff Eatery in Washington, D.C., Nov. 20, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
His remarks were borrowed from a song written by members of the Standing Rock youth group that visited the nation’s capitol two weeks ago. They were invited to the White House for a tour after the President and First Lady Obama their reservation this past June. Later that same day, the president and first lady went to a local Washington, D.C. pizza parlor to eat with the youth.
The president said after the youth went to their hotel there was a blackout in Washington and the youth were together and wrote the following song:
“We returned from the White House. We knew without a doubt we were the first of many voices of Indian Country. So if you hear this song, listen and learn it to sing along. We are all one family. Let’s not make this just a dream.”
President Obama told the tribal leaders today that he and his wife told the youth this summer they wanted them to come visit the White House.
“And a bunch of them told us later they didn’t think they were ever going to hear from us again. Because, they said, you know what, we’ve had a lot of adults make promises to us that didn’t get kept.”
Concluding his remarks, President Obama said:
“We’re all one family. We’re all one family. Your nations have made extraordinary contributions to this country. Your children represent the best of this country and its future. Together, we can make sure that every Native young person is treated like a valuable member not only of your nation, but of the American family — that every Native young person gets an equal shot at the American Dream. That’s what I’m working for.
That’s what you’re working for. I’m proud every single day to be your partner. “We are all one family. Let’s not make this just a dream.”
Arthur Jacobs contributed to this story from Washington.