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Nation-to-nation

Obama took up Standing Rock, albeit delicately, at his last Tribal Nations Conference.

After he assumed office nearly eight years ago, President Obama launched an annual gathering of federally recognized tribes at the White House. It was aimed at fostering the government-to-government relationship between the White House and tribal leadership.

As he took the stage on Monday to address his final conference, many wondered whether Obama would bring up the touchy subject of the Dakota Access pipeline — the project that has drawn condemnation from the Standing Rock Sioux and other tribal nations. Obama recently said he couldn’t offer many details on the pipeline and would have to talk to his staff before he took a position on whether the pipeline should be built on Native American ancestral lands.

Obama traveled to Standing Rock just two years ago — and made mention of that visit during his remarks Monday. But he didn’t stop there. “I know that many of you have come together across tribes and across the country to support the community at Standing Rock,” he said. “And together, you’re making your voices heard.”

Except he didn’t use the words “Dakota Access.”

Earlier this month, Obama’s federal agencies halted the pipeline project to consult with tribal leaders.