Making an appearance at the Tribal Nations conference at the White House, President Barack Obama threw his “no hats” rule out the window, donning a straw hat and wool blanket as a show of respect and honor.
The blanket is called the “Rhythm of the Land,” says Brian Cladoosby, National Congress of American Indians president. A blanket has also been set aside for the first lady, according to Cladoosby.
The audience was comprised of representatives from the 567 federally recognized tribes invited to attend the event. Members from different tribes played drums and shakers, as Obama smiled and faced the crowd.
“What an amazing honor and what a kind gesture for the honor song and the blanket and the hat,” said Obama. The president called the event “very moving.”
The blanket bears the embroidered inscription: “Awe Kooda Bilaxpak Kuxshish,” which translates to “One Who Helps People Throughout the Land.”
“I have to say that I am very glad that you also have a blanket for Michelle so she doesn’t steal mine,” Obama said.
The president used the opportunity to highlight his administration’s efforts to improve relations with tribal nations and conditions on reservations, including the improvement of medical care and schools.