We played the waiting game a lot on Friday.
First, the wait to get onto the bus to take us to the spot where Barack Obama would make his first visit to an American Indian reservation as president. Then there was the wait for Obama to actually arrive.
In between, there were traditional American Indian dancers in headdresses and songs played on the loud speakers. It was enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up in excitement.
And throughout the afternoon, there were hints that the president was on his way. After we got word that Air Force One had landed in Bismarck, a single helicopter flew overhead.
Minutes later, heads turned as five more approached in the distance. Obama first met with a group of American Indian youths in a roundtable discussion before making his speech at the powwow grounds near the Missouri River.
Then dignitaries began filing into the area where Obama would eventually make his speech, including the governor, the state’s congressional delegation, administration officials and aides.
Men in sunglasses touched their earpieces. The president was near.
Heads turned again when a stream of black vans with small American flags pinned to their hoods drove up, and people strained their necks and stood on their toes in an effort to catch a glimpse.
And when Obama and the first lady finally arrived, the place erupted. The first president to visit Indian Country in 15 years had come, and the crowd didn’t seem to mind the wait.