As Americans watched, analyzed, and opined on the first presidential debate on Monday, it seemed, for two long hours, like the country was at a standstill. But for one person, at least, it was business as usual — because being the actual president doesn't mean you get to stop working when you feel like it.
So on Monday, when it seemed like everyone and their grandmother was discussing the debate, President Obama attended the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where he was honored by Native Americans in a ceremony that saw him break the unofficial "no hats" rule for presidents.
Obama, who was adopted by the Crow Nation in 2008 and named "One who helps people throughout the land," stood onstage, signature grin plastered on his face as tribal leaders honored him. The chairman of the Swinomish Tribe and president of the National Congress of American Indians Brian Cladoosby draped a blanket around the president's shoulders and placed a headpiece on his head (which he let sit for a short while before removing).
"What an amazing honor, and what a kind gesture for the honor song and the blanket and the hat," Obama told the audience. "I have to say I'm also very glad that you also have a blanket for Michelle so she doesn't steal mine. She would, too. I'm just saying."
The Tribal Nations Conference is the "hallmark of Obama's Native American policy," Gregory Korte at USA Today reported. Since being elected to the Oval Office, Obama has worked to improve relations with Native American tribes, engaging them in high-level consultations with administration officials.
Most recently, Obama's move to halt construction on the controversial North Dakota Access pipeline has been widely lauded by tribes and activists. His efforts at taking seriously the input and interests of Native Americans are in line with his administration's policy of promoting diversity and encouraging inclusivity. And as racism and xenophobia, unfortunately, find a larger footing in this election, Obama's efforts at unity are among the many reasons Americans are going to miss him in the White House.