September Message

Governor Bill Anoatubby

This year, we will gather in spirit to celebrate our 60th Annual Meeting

By Bill Anoatubby, Governor, Chickasaw Nation

This year marks the 60th anniversary of our Chickasaw Annual Meeting.

Our Chickasaw Annual Meeting and Festival events are traditionally a wonderful time of gathering, celebrating, enjoying fellowship and simply appreciating our special heritage.

The year 2020 has, of course, brought about many changes. This year we cannot gather in our historic capital city of Tishomingo, and in our other event cities. Our continued good health, and that of our families and friends, is of paramount importance this year. Large gatherings of any type are understood to be especially conducive to spreading the virus.

This year has brought with it many challenges. However, we will be celebrating our 60th Chickasaw Annual Meeting in a modern way. We can all still celebrate our unique history virtually. Our Annual Meeting and Festival events are scheduled for Sept. 26 through Oct. 3. There will be plenty to view and stream by going to our site. You can also listen to plenty of various activities on our KCNP community radio at 89.3 FM, and streaming at

Yes, things are very different this year. But we should take stock in the fact our predecessors certainly faced much tougher challenges. We all know the tales of want and hardship that often visited the Chickasaw Nation and the Chickasaw people during the 19th and 20th centuries. We can this month recall and honor their sacrifices, and be joyful that, while we must adapt to this “new normal,” we can celebrate our history with fullness of heart.

It was very nearly 60 years ago, in October 1960, when Chickasaws gathered at Seeley Chapel for what became a watershed event in Chickasaw history. At this gathering, Chickasaws determined they would create a new Chickasaw Tribal Council. A young Chickasaw man named Overton James would be this council’s first president.

This 1960 meeting of Chickasaws and friends produced a wellspring of spirit and a conviction to propel our tribe to its greatest potential. The meeting resulted in what became known as “the Seeley Chapel movement.” Chickasaws were focused on doing the hard work of developing a robust government structure and generating full recognition of our tribe’s sovereignty.

Step by step, the people achieved their goals. In 1971, the Chickasaw Nation conducted its first election since 1906. In 1983, the people approved a new Chickasaw Constitution. Today, we have together become one of the largest, most progressive tribes in the country.

Though we will not be physically together at Tishomingo this year, we can gather virtually in the spirit born at Seeley Chapel.

In this period of public health crisis, the Chickasaw Nation has been aggressive in its deployment of strategies to mitigate spread of the virus. Our efforts, thankfully, are meeting with success. We will continue to be vigilant and keep our Chickasaw citizens, our co-workers, our fellow community members and our families safe. Our sincere hope is that we will all see each other in Tishomingo in 2021.

Best wishes to you and your family on the upcoming 60th Chickasaw Annual Meeting!