Tribal leader: Obama ‘first American Indian president’

President Obama got a new title at the White House Tribal Nations Conference on Wednesday. Brian Cladoosby of the Swinomish Nation introduced Obama as not only the first black U.S. president but also the first American Indian in the White House. 

"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."

Obama opened his remarks by honoring his adoptive Native American father, Sonny Black Eagle, who died last week.

"Sonny Black Eagle adopted me into the Crow Nation during my 2008 campaign.  And yesterday he would have been 79 years old," Obama said. "And while we can’t celebrate that milestone with him today, we can celebrate his remarkable life and all that happened along the way, because Sonny’s story is not just one man’s journey to keep his culture alive, but one country’s journey to keep perfecting itself."

Wednesday's meeting is the fourth Tribal Nations Conference held during Obama's administration. The president promised Native American voters during the 2008 election campaign that he would meet with tribal leaders regularly.   

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · December 5, 2012