Tags: michelle | obama | interior

First Lady Gets Tribal Welcome at Interior Dept.

Monday, 09 Feb 2009 08:38 PM

First lady Michelle Obama was welcomed Monday with tribal drums, chants, and a lavender shawl at the U.S. Interior Department, where she promised that Native Americans have a "wonderful partner" in President Barack Obama.

The visit was part of a tour of government agencies she has embarked upon to meet and thank government employees for their service to the country.

They gave her a rousing tribal welcome at the Interior Department, which manages millions of acres of federal land, a network of national parks, and federal relations with Native American tribes among other things.

The seven-member Black Bear Singers drum band chanted and pounded out what was described as a traditional honor song for the first lady.

Obama was presented with the shawl by the department's public affairs director, Nedra Darling, who said the song and shawl are to give her "strength and courage and duration through her tenure and beyond."

Obama said the Interior Department would be at the center of her husband's efforts to secure "America's energy future" while protecting the environment.

"And as public servants and stewards of some of America's greatest assets, from our parks and forests to mountains and rivers, you're charged with the sacred task of ensuring that America's resources are used responsibly and protected for future generations," she said.

"And for those of you focused on meeting the federal government's obligations to the Native Americans, understand that you have a wonderful partner in the White House right now," she said.

The first lady previously had visited the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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