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Cherokee Nation chief calls President Obama best president ever for American Indians

Cherokee Chief Bill John Baker is a delegate at the Democratic National Convention and says the president has kept the promises he made to Indian Country. His mother is one of Oklahoma's electors who cast votes for president in the Electoral College after the national popular vote.
by Chris Casteel Published: September 4, 2012

— Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker is here to help nominate President Barack Obama for a second term, and he doesn't hold anything back in his praise for the president.

Obama, Baker said here Tuesday, “is the best president for Indian Country in the history of the United States.”

Through the years, Indian tribal chiefs have met a lot of U.S. presidents, but the meetings with Obama have been more than just superficial photo opportunities, Baker said.

“This president has made promises to Indian Country, and he's kept them,” Baker said. “He is a promise keeper. And that needs to be recognized and rewarded.”

Baker, who was elected principal chief last year to the largest Indian tribe in the nation, is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention this week.

It could not be determined Tuesday whether the chiefs of other Indian tribes had ever served as delegates to national party conventions, but it is, at the least, extraordinary.

Baker's mother, Isabel, a retired college professor, is a longtime Democratic activist from Tahlequah who has served as a delegate to national conventions and run for Congress; this year, Isabel Baker is one of Oklahoma's electors who cast votes for president in the Electoral College after the national popular vote.

Tribal Input

Since his election, Obama has directed his agencies to incorporate tribal input on a broad range of issues.

The Obama administration made Indian Country a significant part of the stimulus and health reform legislation.

And it resolved long-running lawsuits involving Indians and the federal government, including the one involving the mismanagement of individual Indian trust accounts.

The administration also helped push major legislation on tribal justice through Congress, has worked to streamline the leasing process for Indian trust land and launched an initiative to improve Indian schools.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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