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November 2009
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Obama promises to include US Indians in ‘American dream’

WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Thursday told a gathering of US tribal leaders in Washington that he was committed to giving Native Americans an equal chance at the “American dream.”

Few US groups “have been more marginalized and ignored by Washington for as long as native Americans,” Obama told the leaders of 564 tribes that the federal government recognizes and who were invited to Washington for the event.

“I know that you may be skeptical that this time will be any different, you have every right to be,” the US president said.

“I want you to know now that I am absolutely committed to moving forward with you in forging a new and better future together.

“It’s a commitment to getting this relationship right so that you can be full partners in the American economy and so your children and grandchildren can have an equal shot at pursuing the American dream,” Obama said.

Many American Indians live on tribal reservations run by largely autonomous governments. As a group, Native Americans tend to suffer from high levels of unemployment, alcoholism and poverty.

Obama, noting that some reservations face 80 percent unemployment and that about one quarter of all Native Americans live in poverty, said he hoped better communication and consultation between the US government and tribes would improve matters.

“I know you’ve heard this song from Washington before,” Obama said.

“I get it. I’m on your side. I understand what it means to be an outsider. I was born to a teenage mother. My father left when I was two years old,” he said.

“I know what it means to feel ignored and forgotten and what it means to struggle. So you will not be forgotten as long as I’m in this White House.”

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