Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Currents. Discussion »
President Barak Obama greets
Derek Bailey, chairman of the
Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa
and Chippewa Indians
HOLLAND, MICHIGAN - Three Michigan tribal leaders cleared their busy schedules on Thursday to travel to Holland, Michigan to have a brief visit with President Barak Obama before his speech. The tribal leaders were invited to hear President Obama's speak before employees of the Johnson Controls - Saft Meadowbrook lithium-ion battery factory.
Derek Bailey, chairman of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, based in Suttons Bay; Larry Romaneli, Ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, based in Manistee and Matthew Wesaw, chairman of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, based in Dowagiac, were on hand to greet President Obama and listen to his speech.
The visit by President Obama to Michigan came one week after he and Congress averted the budget debt ceiling crisis and after the downgrading of the United States credit rating by Standards & Poor.
The visit to the Johnson Controls - Saft Meadowbrook facility was intended to tout President Obama's administration commitment to create jobs. The plant was built in the depressed State of Michigan with $299 million in grant money from economic stimulus funds. The plant when at operational capacity will create 500 jobs.
"I was honored by the White House invitation to attend President Obama's speech this afternoon on behalf of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians," Chairman Bailey told the Native News Network on Thursday evening. "I also appreciated the opportunity to share a few moments with the President prior to his speech."
"Today, President Obama focused on the need for working together for the overall benefit of our Country. Several times he stressed on putting 'country before political party' and seizing the moment to come together on sensible solutions that will take America forward. President Obama also shared on the need for energy efficient technology and production. One statement that I agree with that he made was: 'Citizens voted for a divided government, not a dysfunctional government,'" continued Bailey.
Bailey was named to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Obama last year.
"I appreciated the invitation to meet since the president was speaking in Indian Country. The recognition of the leaders of our sovereign nations is something we have not experienced from previous presidents. President Obama has been a great help in fostering stronger government to government relations, although there is still room for improvement". Said Matthew Wesaw, tribal chairman of Pokagon Band of Potawatomi.
"As always, President Obama was clear in his message. I am thankful for the invitation and the fact that tribal nations were included. His administration is doing a pretty good job of working with tribes." Said Larry Romaneli, Ogema of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians.
revised 11:20 am; revised 11:00 am; posted August 12, 2011 8:20 am edt
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