February Message

Governor Bill Anoatubby

Inevitability of change offers us challenges, as well as opportunities

By Bill Anoatubby, Governor, Chickasaw Nation

As we begin our journey into this new year, we can be sure of one constant – change.

Change can be good, bad or simply neutral. Whatever form it takes, we can be certain we will encounter change throughout our lives. It can have only the slightest impact on our existence or, at the other end of the spectrum, change can completely alter our approach to how we think about our lives in relation to the environment around us.

At the Chickasaw Nation, we know change will always meet us wherever we go. Our history as a people and as a government is one of widely-experienced and often surprising change.

As Chickasaws, we are ever mindful of our history and how it has shaped who we are today. We understand and we remember the forces that led to our Removal from our ancestral homelands in the 1830s, and the many challenges we faced once in our new homeland to the west.

After we re-established ourselves in our new lands, we were soon subject to more major change with the government termination movements. While unsuccessful, these experiences came in waves, and were highly challenging. They impacted the Chickasaw Nation, its people and all Indian people across the country. We faced these challenges and deflected them. Our experience further instructed us on the unexpected change that could come our way.

The late American writer James Baldwin wrote, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

That sentiment, in many ways, sums up our experience as the Chickasaw Nation.

Together, we have faced the many challenges that have come our way, and have emerged unconquered, resolute and free. It has not been an easy road, that is certain. But the more challenges we faced and tamed, the better we became at dealing with change.

Today, we are one of the most, if not the most, successful and progressive tribes in the country. We operate myriad successful commercial operations, and those entities have helped us pave the way to real independence. We have reached this point because, in many ways, we became more effective at dealing with change. Our resourcefulness helped us strengthen the foundations on which the tribe today rests. We have met adversity, and we have overcome it, because it was essential we prevail as a nation and as a people.

As the Chickasaw Nation operates its many government and commercial projects and programs, we understand we will meet change on a daily basis. Part of the joy of serving the Chickasaw people is meeting this change head on, and making sure we have dealt with it in a way that helps us serve our citizens even better.

How we perceive change today is probably best summed up by the English philosopher Alan Watts who wrote, “They only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, and join the dance.”

At the Chickasaw Nation today, we embrace change and are eager to “join the dance.” We have learned over time that withdrawing and simply hoping change goes away is never a good strategy. The best and most positive action we can take is to grab change by the horns and get to work. We now have in our arsenal the people, the tools and the resources that generate our great confidence that we can deal with most anything that comes our way, and emerge successful.

The modern Chickasaw Nation invites change because change leads to growth. Together, we are growing our tribe to be the best it can possibly be for the Chickasaw families we serve every day.