President Obama says Indian Country is at a turning point

 

Politicians are required to be optimistic. It’s the first tool in their bag. And a president of the United States is even more optimistic than most politicians. It’s what we expect from our leader.

President Barack Obama beamed that message at the White House Tribal Nations conference last week. He told tribal leaders: “We’ve got a long road ahead. But I believe that one day, we’re going to be able to look back on these years and say that this was a turning point. This was the moment when we began to build a strong middle class in Indian Country … the moment when we stopped repeating the mistakes of the past, and began building a better future together, one that honors old traditions and welcomes every Native American into the American Dream.”

 President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the 2011 Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of Interior, Washington, D.C., Dec. 2, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

That’s a lofty goal -- even in good times. But what does that idea mean in the Era of Contraction? How can the president have Indian Country’s back when so much of the federal government’s agenda is shaped by the times we live in?