More than 300 tribal nations sent their leaders to Washington today – some in buckskins and feathered head-dress, some in coat and tie – for the annual summit at which President Obama reminded them that as a presidential candidate in 2008 he was adopted into the Crow Nation by a Native American couple.
“As a proud adopted member of the Crow Nation,” he began, “let me say, ‘Kaheé – welcome – to all of you.”
The tribal summit is considered a meeting of sovereign nations coming together, built on a history, as turbulent as it was, of treaties and a Constitution.
“That’s the relationship we’re called upon to sustain for the progress of all of our peoples,” Obama said today. “And while we should be proud of what we’ve achieved together in recent years, we also should be focused on all the work that we still have to do.”
Unspoken in public was the growing debate over the term “Redskins,” and the Washington NFL franchise under pressure from some tribes to abandon a name many Indians consider a slur. Obama agreed last month, telling The Associated Press, “Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it. And, I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things. ”
If he were the team’s owner, the president said, he would consider a name change.
In private at the White House Tuesday, leaders of the Oneida nation presented him with a sports jersey from a high school in New York State. The students dropped the name Redskins, becoming instead the Hawkeyes. And the Oneida tribe helped pay for the new uniforms.