Obama visits Arctic community to discuss Native issues

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Obama Takes a Boat Tour of Kenai Fjords Park in Alaska


President Barack Obama on Wednesday will become the first sitting U.S. president to visit a community north of the Arctic Circle, a trek the White House hopes will bring into focus how climate change is affecting Americans.

After meeting tribal leaders and fishermen in Dillingham, home to the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery, Obama will fly into Kotzebue, an Arctic town of about 3,000 that is battling coastal erosion caused by rising seas.

The stops, at the end of a three-day tour of Alaska, are also aimed at cementing Obama's legacy on improving ties with Native Americans. He has also traveled by foot and boat to see glaciers that are receding quickly due to climate change.

President Obama's visit to Alaska:

41 PHOTOS
President Obama visits Alaska
See Gallery
Obama visits Arctic community to discuss Native issues
President Barack Obama reacts as a fish he is holding releases milt, the sperm-containing fluid of a male fish, while visiting with Commercial and Subsistence Fisher Kim Williams on Kanakanak Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama holds up a fish while visiting with Commercial and Subsistence Fishers Alannah Hurley, left, and Kim Williams, second from right, on Kanakanak Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama holds up a piece of salmon jerky while meeting with local fishermen and families on Kanakanak Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama holds up a fish while visiting with Commercial and Subsistence Fishers Alannah Hurley, left, and Kim Williams, center, on Kanakanak Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama arrives to deliver remarks at Kotzebue School, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Kotzebue, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at Kotzebue School, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Kotzebue, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama participates in a performance by native Alaskan dancers at Dillingham Middle School, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama participates in a performance by native Alaskan dancers at Dillingham Middle School, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama stops by a local grocery story to highlight the high cost of groceries in Alaska, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama reaches out to pick up a puppy belonging to musher John Baker (2nd R) in Kotzebue, Alaska on September 2, 2015. Obama blazed a new trail as US leader on September 2, becoming the first to head above the Arctic circle, to urge US citizens to take swift action against climate change. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama holds a puppy while visiting musher John Baker and his family in Kotzebue, Alaska on September 2, 2015. Obama blazed a new trail as US leader on September 2, becoming the first to head above the Arctic circle, to urge US citizens to take swift action against climate change. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama meets with Kevin Baker, center, the 2011 Iditarod winner, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Kotzebue, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama, right, visits with Commercial and Subsistence Fishers Alannah Hurley, left, and Kim Williams, on Kanakanak Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama looks at salmon being smoked while meeting with local fishermen and families on Kanakanak Beach, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama waves as he arrives to watch performances by native Alaskan dancers at Dillingham Middle School, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on an historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama greets well-wishers upon arrival at Dillingham Airport in Dillingham, Alaska on September 2, 2015. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama arrives at Dillingham Airport, Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2015, in Dillingham, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama stops to look at sea lions at Fox Island while taking a boat tour to see the effects of global warming in Resurrection Cove, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama speaks to the media before boarding a boat for a tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama, accompanied by a National Park Service employee looks at Bear Glacier, which has receded 1.8 miles in approximately 100 years, while on a boat tour to see the effects of global warming in Resurrection Cove, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama stops at Thumb Cove to look at three glaciers while taking a boat tour to see the effects of global warming in Resurrection Cove, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama looks at Bear Glacier, which has receded 1.8 miles in approximately 100 years, while on a boat tour to see the effects of global warming in Resurrection Cove, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama greets a baby through a window in downtown Seward, Alaska, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, after taking a hike to view the Exit Glacier. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama looks at the ice cream selection while chatting with children during a stop at the Sweet Darlings icecreme shop on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama looks at the ice creme selection at the Sweet Darlings icecreme shop on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama greets people in downtown Seward, Alaska, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, after takes a hike to view the Exit Glacier. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
DENALI NATIONAL PARK, AK - SEPTEMBER 1: A view of Denali, formerly known as Mt. McKinley, on September 1, 2015 in Denali National Park, Alaska. According to the National Park Service, the summit elevation of Denali is 20,320 feet and is the highest mountain peak in North America. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Sea lions lay on rocks near Fox Island as President Barack Obama takes a boat tour to see the effects of global warming in Resurrection Cove, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama visits with guests at Snow City Cafe in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama points to a pastry display at the Snow City Cafe in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama looks at a pastry display during a stop at at Snow City Cafe in Anchorage, Alaska, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama greets patrons at the Snow City Cafe on September 1, 2015 in Anchorage, Alaska. Obama is heading to Seward, Alaska to visit the Exit Glacier and tour Kenai Fjords National Park. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama asks if staff and press want anything before ordering at the Snow City Cafe on September 1, 2015 in Anchorage, Alaska. Obama is heading to Seward, Alaska to visit the Exit Glacier and tour Kenai Fjords National Park. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama arrives at a lookout while hiking near the Exit Glacier on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama speaks to members of the media while on a hike to the Exit Glacier in Seward, Alaska, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, which according to National Park Service research, has retreated approximately 1.25 miles over the past 200 years. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama looks at the pauses to admire the view while hiking near the Exit Glacier on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks across the tarmac after landing at Seward City airport on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. Obama is in Seward to visit the Exit Glacier and tour Kenai Fjords National Park. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama is greeted by Seward Mayor Jean Bardarson and Alaska National Park Service Regional Director Bert Frost as he arrives at Seward Airport to take a hike to view the Exit Glacier, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama arrives at Seward Airport to take a hike to view the Exit Glacier, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015, in Seward, Alaska. Obama is on a historic three-day trip to Alaska aimed at showing solidarity with a state often overlooked by Washington, while using its glorious but changing landscape as an urgent call to action on climate change. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Marine One, carrying US President Barack Obama, approaches the Seward City airport on September 1, 2015 in Seward, Alaska. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

Obama will say in Kotzebue that his administration has found dozens of new ways to work better with Native Americans - program fixes with small price tags but rich potential, a White House official told reporters.

The president boasted this week that he will have visited more tribal communities than any previous sitting president by the time he leaves office. He has said he wanted to hear concerns from "everyday Alaskans" on this tour.

In Kotzebue, Williie Goodwin, 71, said he hoped Obama would see the impact climate change has had on the migration patterns of animals.

But he said he does not want the federal government to restrict mining and energy production because jobs in those sectors will keep the North going.

"That is going to be sustaining our communities," he said.

"I can't shut the door on them and say, 'No offshore and no mining'."

In Dillingham, some residents are fighting the proposed Pebble Mine project that they say could hurt their salmon fishery.

"We're not opposed to mineral extraction, but salmon must always come first," said Jason Metrokin, president of the Bristol Bay Native Corporation.

Obama made a huge symbolic gesture to Native Amercian communities and Alaskans at large at the start of his trip by renaming Mount McKinley, the highest mountain in North America, as Denali, its traditional Athabascan name.

The historic nature of the visit inspired Juneau café owner Marc Wheeler to cough up 45,000 airline miles to get to Dillingham for the chance to lay eyes on Obama.

"He travels in this bubble. Hopefully, he can escape it a little bit," said Wheeler, whose café is serving 'Barack'y Road' ice cream in honor of the trip.

More from AOL.com:
Rocket with 'Denmark's Gagarin' lifts off to space station
Biden to test political waters in Florida as he mulls 2016
Transgender athletes may face 'physical inspection' before playing sports

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners