US Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama became an honorary member
of a native American tribe today and promised policies to help tribal
people if he wins the White House in November.
The Illinois senator who is leading rival Hillary Clinton in their race for
the party’s presidential nomination, joined the Crow Nation, a tribe of
some 12,100 members in Montana, taking on a native name and honorary
parents in a traditional ceremony.
Obama, who would be the first black US president, was “adopted” by Hartford
and Mary Black Eagle and given a name which means “one who helps all people
of this land.”
“I was just adopted into the tribe, so I’m still working on my
pronunciation,” Senator Obama told a crowd after stumbling over some of the
“I like my new name, Barack Black Eagle,” he said. “That is a good name.”
Many in the audience wore traditional feather headdresses and some banged
drums ahead of Senator Obama’s visit, the first by a presidential candidate
to the Crow Nation.
Senator Obama held rallies throughout Montana, which holds its primary
election on June 3.
The state is home to some 60,000 American Indians, making them a key swing
vote, according to Dale Old Horn, 62, a spokesman for the Crow Nation.
Senator Obama said he would appoint a Native American adviser to his senior
White House staff if he won and would work on providing better health care
and education to reservations across the country.
“Few have been ignored by Washington for as long as Native Americans, the
first Americans,” Senator Obama said.
Mr Old Horn said the tribal members related to Senator Obama because of his
“His heritage of being poor, of being an outsider, you know those two
things are the commonalities that he has with us,” he said.
“We’ve always been treated like outsiders when it comes to government
policy. In addition to that, we all grew up poor.”