Sen. Obama: Campaign for change in Indian Country
"The 2008 presidential election will determine the future direction of the country, and I am running for president to change the national policy agenda so that it provides opportunity and improves the quality of life for all Americans, not just the most privileged among us. It is my goal to run a campaign from the ''bottom up'' - a campaign that empowers individuals at the community level who do not accept the national priorities set by their current government leaders in Washington. And I hope that American Indians will give my campaign a serious look and join our coalition for change.

As a youth I lived for several years in Indonesia. I began my professional life working as a community organizer in an impoverished Chicago neighborhood devastated by steel layoffs. I know, I have seen the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta, Indonesia, in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago's South Side or the lives of many children of the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. I know the response of the powerful to this disorder - alternating as it does between a dull complacency and downright indifference. And I know that many residents of these communities have already given up the hope that politics can actually improve their lives.

It is this experience that reinforces my respect for tribal sovereignty and my unwavering support for Native tribes' government-to-government relationship with the U.S. government. It is clear to me that Washington's ''one size fits all'' solutions don't work in Indian country and never have. Instead, my experiences have taught me that the real solutions - the solutions that work - are the ones that come from the affected communities themselves. The simple truth is that sound Indian policy must have at its core, the empowerment of tribal nations to address their own problems. That will be an important emphasis of my presidency."

Get the Story:
Barack Obama: Making my case in Indian country (Indian Country Today 2/1)

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