Obama’s New Name? Barack Black Eagle

May 19, 2008 6:39pm

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller Reports: Traveling though Montana on Monday, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., made his first stop as a presidential candidate to an Indian reservation – and got a little more than expected.

Obama was adopted as an honorary member into the family within the Crow tribe that inhabited the reservation – who gave the presidential candidate a new name and new parents.

"Awe Kooda bilaxpak Kuuxshish" was the honorary name given to Obama meaning, "one who helps people throughout the land."

Obama was escorted out to the stage in Crow Agency, Montana arm-in-arm between his adopted parents: Sunny and Mary Black Eagle.

Obama thanked his honorary new parents – for giving him another name to tack on to the list, "I like my new name Barack Black Eagle. I mean that’s a good name."

The Crow tribe does adoption ceremonies for special dignitaries who visit the reservation. The Black Eagle family was chosen to adopt Obama because there are one of only five living generations on the reservation. With life expectancy so low, it is sign of great fortune and honor to have several generations living in the family.

Senator Obama, speaking for only 12 minutes told the Native American crowd of nearly 2,000 that he knows what it’s like to be an outsider – that his struggles being an African American, are similar to theirs.

"I was growing up in Hawaii at the time and where I was growing up there weren’t a lot of black families and so sometimes I was looked at as sort of an outsider and so I know what it’s like to be on the outside. I know what it’s like to not always have been respected or to have been ignored and I know what it’s like to struggle and that’s how I think many of you understand what’s happened here on the reservation, that that a lot of times you have been forgotten just like African-Americans have been forgotten or other groups in this country have been forgotten."

Obama promised the crowd that as president he would have regular meetings at the White House with tribal leaders and appoint an American Indian policy advisor.

Obama’s transition into the Crow extended family was not without a few hiccups. While greeting the crowd at the onset, Obama mistakenly mispronounced the name of their land.

"I’m still working on it, I was just adopted into the tribe so, I am still working on my pronunciations," he said when he was corrected.

Obama was given two necklaces made by the members of the tribe. The necklaces, Obama was told, were to be a gift for his wives.

"I only have one wife," Obama said laughing, "So, you know when he was talking about the gifts to my wives, I want to make sure, I don’t want to get in trouble when I get home. I can have new parents but no new wives."

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