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Obama Says U.S. Can Do More to Help Native Americans

President Obama said the U.S. could do more to help Native Americans, as he visited Indian Country Friday -- the first president to do so since Bill Clinton in 1999.

"Let's put our minds together to build more economic opportunity in Indian country. Because every American, including every Native American deserves a chance to work hard and get ahead," he said.

Obama spoke to a crowd of about 1,800 during a Flag Day celebration at the Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Nation in Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

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The reservation is home to about 850 people. Unemployment there is more than 60 percent, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Obama drew attention to inroads his administration has made with tribes even as he promoted the need to help reservations create jobs, strengthen justice, and improve health and education.

Image: U.S. President Obama holds a baby at Cannon Ball Flag Day Celebration in Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota
President Barack Obama holds a baby at the Cannon Ball Flag Day Celebration at the Cannon Ball Powwow Grounds on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota, June 13, 2014. LARRY DOWNING / Reuters

With Native American poverty and unemployment more than double the U.S. average, Obama promoted initiatives to spur tribal development and create new markets for Native American products and services.

"You don't have to give up your culture to also be part of the American family," Obama said.

The president and first lady also visited young tribal members at a school.

—Becky Bratu, with The Associated Press