The Choctaw Nation is abuzz today as it prepares for President Barack Obama to make his second visit to a reservation as a sitting United States president.
President Obama will deliver remarks at the Durant High School in Durant, Oklahoma on expanding economic opportunity for communities across the country, including the Choctaw Nation.
“Everything is buzzing,” Choctaw Chief Gary Batton told NewsOK.com ahead of the visit. “You can feel the excitement in the air.”
The president is scheduled to deliver his remarks to an invite-only crowd around 3:15 p.m. before he departs to visit the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside of Oklahoma City – which will mark the first visit to a federal prison by a sitting President.
“This is the first president to really come to the Choctaw Nation in a nation to nation meeting,” Batton told NewsOK.com. “That’s huge for us as Native Americans.”
Just over a year ago Obama, accompanied by First Lady Michelle Obama and staffers, visited the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota in June 2014.
During last year’s visit, the Obama Administration announced key programs to benefit American Indian youth through education and economic development.
One of the items Obama will be discussing today will be the new initiative called ConnectHome. The program looks to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country by working with communities, the private sector, and federal government. The pilot program is launching across 27 cities and the Choctaw Nation. According to the White House Office of Communications, Cherokee Communications, Pine Telephone, Suddenlink Communications, and Vyve Broadband will work to ensure more than 425 of Choctaw’s public housing residents have access to low-cost, high-speed Internet in select communities.
Shortly after last year’s visit the departments of Interior and Indian Education released a “Blueprint for Reform,” a comprehensive plan “to redesign the BIE to achieve one overarching goal: for tribes to deliver a world-class education to all students attending BIE schools,” according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
For some today’s visit could be a sign of some more major announcements concerning federally funding programs that benefit tribal communities throughout the county according to NewsOK.com. White House staffers haven’t said if an announcement of that size is planned or not, but it’s not entirely off the table.
ICTMN will have a full report on the visit tomorrow.