Oglalas support, question Obama's policies - KOTA Territory News

Oglalas support, question Obama's policies

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People in Pine Ridge contacted Sunday mostly supported President Barack Obama's comments about trying to improve Native American life during his first official visit to Lakota country. However, some have questions.

Obama's Friday stop on the North Dakota portion of the Standing Rock Reservation marks the first presidential visit to a tribal sovereign nation since Bill Clinton toured Pine Ridge in 1999.

Some shoppers contacted in the Pine Ridge business district wondered why Obama did not follow suit, but nearly every one said they appreciated the White House recognition of the Lakotas and Native Americans.

Glorious weather gave Sunday grocery shopping a little extra oomph to the Father's Day picnic planning for many in Pine Ridge. Politics were not on anyone's agenda until asked by a visiting journalist.

Leah Pourier spent Father's Day selling Indian tacos and other holiday food to help pay for her husband, Jim's, recent kidney transplant.

Preoccupied by those priorities, Leah said she likes President Obama but isn't dwelling on his historic visit, which made him the third U.S. president to tour a reservation in 80 years.

"I've been up in Sioux Falls so I haven't been listening to the news lately, but I support him, 100 percent" she said.

The president also has an adoring fan in future Red Cloud School fifth-grader Rhianna Red Hawk. She supports the president’s education and economic efforts because, "I think he cares about the Indians"

Although Native Americans of all ages support Obama, Bart Brewer -- a cousin of current Oglala tribal President Bryan Brewer -- wonders why Obama appears to take that support for granted.

"Well, he's going towards the end of his presidency, the same thing as Clinton did. Why can't they come (to reservations) earlier?"

Political activist Tyson White Plume, 19, of Manderson wants more than a presidential visit. He wants Obama to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline that's coming from Canada. The proposed routes to refineries off Louisiana include crossing reservation areas.

"We don't want that pipeline coming through here, this is treaty territory," White Plume said.

Dennis Yellow Thunder Of Pine Ridge sees opportunities for local improvements If President Obama lives up to his economic development proposals. Rather than Washington making the choices, Yellow Thunder says local decisions can better steer use of federal funding.

"I think a sitting president coming to visit a tribal nation is a positive thing, we can make it a positive thing. ... A big injection of financial resources would be the best way that he could help because we can utilize that to service our people," Yellow Thunder said.

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