Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, center, is joined by his family at Chickasaw Nation Inauguration ceremonies, Oct. 1 in Ada. From left, Preslea Anoatubby, Chloe Anoatubby, Brendan Anoatubby, Janice Anoatubby, Governor Anoatubby, Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby, Becky Anoatubby, Eryn Anoatubby, and Sydney Anoatubby.
ADA, Oklahoma – An October 1 inauguration ceremony marked the beginning of an unprecedented ninth consecutive term for Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. The ceremony was conducted on the East Central University campus in a theater named for Chickasaw Hall of Fame member Ataloa.
“It is a great honor to serve as Governor of the great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw Nation,” said Governor Anoatubby. “Together, we have made great progress and accomplished much for our people and our nation. We can look forward to a bright and promising future as we continue to thrive and support the dreams of Chickasaws around the world.”
Other Chickasaw Nation elected officials sworn into office include newly-elected Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby, Supreme Court Justice Mark Colbert and tribal legislators Lisa Johnson Billy, Linda Briggs, Derrick Priddy and Beth Alexander.
“It is an incredible privilege to work with you to serve Chickasaws,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Governor Anoatubby began his 44-year career with the Chickasaw Nation in 1975 as health services director. He was elected as Lt. Governor in 1979, and served in that role until he was elected Governor in 1987. He has led the Chickasaw Nation to exponential growth in economic development as well as a comparably rapid expansion of services.
“In 1987, we set out to develop a sound economy for the Chickasaw Nation, to celebrate our rich heritage and to safeguard our sovereignty,” said Governor Anoatubby. “We have accomplished many of those goals and found new and exciting ways to continue in fulfilling our mission.”
Currently, the Chickasaw Nation supports more than 22,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in wages and benefits as part of a $3.7 billion annual economic contribution to the Oklahoma economy. More than 100 businesses are included in a diverse portfolio, including gaming, hospitality, tourism, banking, manufacturing, fine chocolate and other industries.
“We continue to have a firm financial foundation, as our businesses strive every day to sustain our mission and enhance the lives of our people,” said Governor Anoatubby. “And they will continue to generate the revenue needed to grow our services and programs by reaching new markets, developing new business opportunities, and continuing to concentrate on good stewardship of our resources.”
Today, the Chickasaw Nation operates more than 100 successful businesses in gaming, hospitality, tourism, banking, manufacturing, chocolate and other industries. Business revenues provide the majority of funding for more than 200 programs and services available to the Chickasaw people and other Native Americans.
Education is one example. Expanded education offerings serve more students in early education as well as offering scholarships for higher education and vocational training. In addition, the tribe recently implemented a new division devoted to helping prepare Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers.
Special emphasis is placed on developing and mentoring young Chickasaw leaders through programs such as internships, career development and a youth leadership program.
“We support these new leaders through higher education programs across all fields, from health to business to government and academia,” Governor Anoatubby said. “We have been working for many years to ensure a sustainable future for our people.”
In addition to providing grants and scholarships totaling almost $20 million annually to more than 5,000 students, the Chickasaw Nation operates four early childhood centers, in Ada, Ardmore, Tishomingo and Sulphur, which serve more than 330 students. A range of STEM programs are also offered, which introduce students to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other educational opportunities include a Career Technology program, adult learning, fine arts training and tribal division dedicated to preparing Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers.
Significant strides in health care include a state-of-the-art 370,000 square-foot hospital, four clinics, eight pharmacies, a diabetes care center, emergency medical services, four nutrition centers, eight WIC offices and five wellness centers.
An increased focus on supporting healthy lifestyles is an integral part of the health care strategy moving forward.
“We have made great strides in the area of physical health,” said Governor Anoatubby. “But we have more that we need to do in areas of prevention. This year, we are placing stronger emphasis on the complete health of each individual with a strategic focus on mental wellness.”
The Chickasaw Nation has also expanded and improved housing services to help meet the needs of Chickasaws in all walks of life. Those services include rental assistance as well as an increased emphasis on home ownership, including programs to facilitate home loans.
“As the housing market and the desires of people change, we will continue to develop innovative and creative solutions to solve housing needs,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Thousands of Chickasaw utilize home loan programs to make homeownership a reality.
Housing assistance for Chickasaws across the United States includes the installation of storm shelters as well as grants for closing costs. Repairs and home improvements.
“We treasure our elders and continue to learn much from their wisdom and experience,” Governor Anoatubby said.
Many programs are offered to enhance the lives of Chickasaw elders, including operation of 11 senior centers in communities throughout southern Oklahoma and one under construction in Achille, Oklahoma. These senior centers served more than 163,000 meals this year and offer programs which focus on fellowship and health. Chore services, a senior golf academy and a foster grandparent program are also offered to Chickasaw seniors.
“Our youth programs are an important investment in developing strong individuals, and a strong nation,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Camps, academies, sports and leadership programs are offered year-round and are designed to build character, leadership, life skills and fitness. Clothing grants and reimbursement grants are also provided to ensure that youth can focus on academics without financial distractions.
“Our cultural identity is what guides us and informs our most crucial decisions, which is why cultural preservation and education efforts are so vital,” said Governor Anoatubby.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur, continues its mission of telling the Chickasaw story and sharing tribal traditions and culture. Since its 2010 opening, the cultural center has hosted more than 800,000 guests from across the globe.
Expanded programs, events, cultural and language classes also help Chickasaw citizens, employees and community members learn about the Chickasaw people and customs.
Blending modern technology with historical tradition, the Rosetta Stone Chickasaw app is also available, making the Chickasaw language easily accessible. More than 120 Rosetta Stone Chickasaw lessons have been developed through a collaboration between fluent Chickasaw speakers and Rosetta Stone.