updated 4/5/2008 10:02:31 PM ET 2008-04-06T02:02:31

Democrat Barack Obama said Saturday he supports environmentally sound ways to use coal and promised to appoint a high-level adviser on Indian issues if elected president, tailoring his message to western voters he's been accused of ignoring.

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Obama acknowledged his support of clean-energy technology might worry voters in a region that produces lots of coal.

"I know Montana's a coal state. My home state, Illinois, is a coal state, but we've got to make sure that we are investing in technologies that capture carbon because we can't sustain the planet the way that we're doing it right now," Obama said, speaking to 8,000 people at a college arena. "Look at this incredible landscape around you. We've got to pass that on."

Obama's campaign also put out a policy paper on Indian issues that promises to create a senior White House adviser on the subject.

Accusing President Bush of weakening civil rights, Obama appealed to the independent pioneer tradition of his audience. "If you live out here in big sky country, I know you believe in civil liberties," he said.

Video: Dems jostle for votes in Montana Obama even expressed interest in learning to fly fish and mused over the city's name.

"Here's the thing, Missoula — I just like saying Missoula, by the way. It's a good name. Missoula. A lot of vowels," Obama said.

The campaign noted that Obama released a position paper involving Western issues before the Nevada primary earlier this year.

Montana's primary is June 3 and will decide 17 delegates. Two of the state's nine superdelegates have endorsed Obama, and the rest say they will decide after the primary.

Obama picked up the endorsement of Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, a former Clinton administration appointee, on Wednesday — his latest from a Western governor. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, a former energy secretary and UN ambassador under Clinton, announced his support for Obama in March and at least two other Western governors also have come out in favor of Obama.

Freudenthal had complained earlier that none of the candidates, Republicans or Democrats, were addressing Western issues.

On Friday, Obama appeared in North Dakota and faced a small decision when presented with a gift — a hockey stick from the University of North Dakota's team, the Fighting Sioux.

The NCAA has tried to force the university to drop the Indian nickname, but it remains popular with many in the state. Would Obama mention the Sioux and invite questions about whether he was endorsing a name that some consider offensive?

He chose to commend the university's "men's hockey team."

Rival Hillary Rodham Clinton took a different approach when she appeared before the same group later. She compared herself directly to the Fighting Sioux and the never-give-up attitude that has taken them to the Final Four in NCAA hockey.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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