By Rachel Smith – January 21, 2013
Martha Redbone belted neo-soul tunes on Inauguration Night.
She was center stage at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. It was the Native Nations Ball to celebrate President Barack Obama.
President Obama and his administration have reached out to Native Americans in new ways.
He has held an annual White House Tribal Nations Conference to learn more about what has been happening in Indian Country. Mr. Obama has also added Native Americans to cabinet positions connecting the capital with tribal lands.
“He’s enabled us to continue our sovereignty and self-determination amongst the tribes,” said Redbone.
Gila River Indian Community Youth Coordinator Michael Preston agreed. He was thankful for President Obama’s willingness to reach out to the first Americans.
“He’s trying to look out for everybody,” said Preston. “He gives us the opportunity…not a hand out.”
Both Preston and Redbone were optimistic about President Obama’s second term because of his work in Indian country.
Redbone went on to say she hoped to see the President address gay rights and the environment in his next term.
Although this election is over, the competition for Indigenous peoples’ support is continuing. Political parties are equally interested in swaying this voter block to their side.
Native Americans helped struggling North Dakota Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp keep her seat this time.
Candidates in Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico also tried enticing these voters to check their ballots in their favor.