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Obama to Visit Native American Reservation for 1st Time as President

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama says he’ll visit a Native American reservation in North Dakota next week on his first trip to Indian Country as president.

Obama says he and first lady Michelle Obama will visit the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in Cannonball. He says the reservation holds a special place in U.S. history because Chief Sitting Bill lived there.

Obama says he’s worked to strengthen justice, infrastructure and health care for Native Americans. But he also laments high Indian poverty rates and says he wants to hear firsthand about their challenges. He’ll announce new initiatives during the visit to grow Indian economies.

Native American and civil rights groups, largely led by the Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians, have been attempting the Washington Redskins to change what they believe to be a racist name. Recently, a letter signed by dozens of Native American, civil rights and religious organizations was sent to every NFL player asking each to add his “powerful voice to the hundreds who are already speaking out.”

Obama has previously stated he would consider the possibility of changing the name if he were in Dan Snyder’s position.

“If I were the owner of the team and I knew that there was a name of my team, even if it had a storied history, that was offending a sizeable group of people, I’d think about changing it,” Obama told the Associated Press last fall.

Obama visited the Crow Nation in Montana reservation as a presidential candidate, but hasn’t been back to Indian country since. He vowed last year to return in 2014.

(TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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