2002 State of the Nation Address

42nd Annual Meeting
Governor Bill Anoatubby
10/5/2002 4:38:10 PM

Governor: Good morning. Greetings to the great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw people - you. A people known for their bravery, and more especially, as intrepid warriors never known to have lost a battle; and, also known for our dynamic women.

The bell may have tolled on November 16, 1907, for the end of the Chickasaw government; but ladies and gentlemen we have not gone away, have we? We're still here.

It is certainly a pleasure to be here today at this 42nd Chickasaw Annual Meeting. You saw the photographs of Seeley Chapel, this is where the meetings began. Not too long ago, we dedicated a marker at Seeley Chapel to recognize the significance of that place.

It is a pleasure to have all of you here today and, certainly, I welcome you and hope that during this day and throughout the evening you enjoy yourselves while you are here. Secretary McCaleb it is a pleasure to have you with us her today. It makes us proud to know that we have a Chickasaw in the highest post in Indian Country in the federal government. Chief Smith, thank you for coming today. The alliance that we have as Indian tribes is certainly one that is inseparable as far as I am concerned. We are honored by your presence here today.

It is a great day. A very great day. A day when we can examine the state of the Chickasaw Nation. In the video you just saw, there was a question that was posed. It said, "What would they do?" Part of my job here today is to help explain to you what was done after such devastation of our government at a time when we began to come back. It is my job to tell you what was done. At least for the last year, I can describe to you some of the happenings. At a point in time when much needed by our government and by our people, we did what we always do. We went to work. We went to work on things that would make things better for the Chickasaw people.

We started laying the foundations that would provide for the people the kinds of opportunities that were needed. Education opportunities, opportunities for quality jobs and housing and the nutrition and health care services that were needed. Also, the mission statement for the Chickasaw Nation was formulated. That mission for the Chickasaw Nation is "to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people."

We continue to fulfill that mission each and every day as we work for you. I would like to list a few accomplishments from just this past year.

We have established a number of new programs that are for the benefit of the Chickasaw people. We have a farmers' market program. Now, some people may look at that and say, "what's that all about?" It's about grassroots. Not everything we do is on a large scale. The reason that we look for businesses and economic opportunities for the tribe is so we can do things just like that. For the second time, our Senior Nutrition Program (Senior's Farmer's Market) was funded, as well. To the best of my knowledge, that is the only one in Oklahoma.

One thing that you can be very pleased about, I believe, is your health system. The health system continues to expand and improve its services. In fact, this very summer the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Organizations accredited the Chickasaw Nation Health System. Next year, you should see the opening of the Purcell health clinic. And doing so, we will meet a goal that we set back in the1980s. That goal was for any person needing to be served by the health system would not need to drive more than 35 miles to reach their health services.

Education is always a top priority. Everyone here knows why. It creates and helps our young people by providing for them a future, and to let them provide for themselves. Every single Chickasaw student today who wishes to pursue his or her higher education can do so with help from the Chickasaw Nation education department. I have a whole list of higher education scholarships and supplements that have been provided. We help hundreds of students with education scholarships and normal Bureau of Indian Affairs-type higher education scholarships. We had over 700 other kinds of scholarships that we provided. The Chickasaw Education Foundation provided 711 scholarships to our students. We have a sister organization called the Chickasaw Foundation. Their mission is to assist Chickasaw students and develop cultural activities. They were able to seek out from private donors, scholarships that would be awarded to at least nine other students. There were 51 other scholarships that were awarded in the areas specifically of legal, health care, business and the elected leaders, scholarship.

I recall, when I was first elected Governor, we had a tract of land east of Ada called Kullihoma. That was the only, wholly owned tract of land. It was about 600 acres. One of the goals that we set early on was to increase our tribal land base. I am very pleased to report that just this last year we were able to double the tribe's land base by adding a 4,300 acre track to our list of ownerships. It is a ranch near Davis. We are very pleased that the Chickasaw legislature joins with the administration in working to achieve this goal. Over the years, we have been able to purchase small tracks for either the construction of some center, maybe a senior site or maybe a business, but this is the single largest purchase that we have made.

Housing is important. We must have roofs over our heads. We have many people who are still in need. Our housing programs continue to grow. We have more homes under construction than the tribe has ever had, totaling 260 at this moment. That is under the Native American Housing and Self-Determination Act. As we commonly do in government, we have acronyms. This is called the NAHASDA program. In the time, since the tribe assumed the operation under NAHASDA, the housing programs have grown from three programs to 16 programs. One of the very important programs that serves everyone who lives within the continental United States, is called the Chukma Chukmasi program. It helps our Chickasaws secure home loans. Just since January of this year, we have seen a 186 percent increase in loans over the total of all of last year.

We have a lot of hard-working, dedicated people who work for the Chickasaw Nation. The reason that we have the progress such that we have is that they have the inclination and they have the urge to serve. They know that in order for us to have prosperity, we must grow. They have set their minds to it, and they work hard for it.

Today, we honor our children: the future generation. But we cannot forget those children of yesterday. We can't forget the little ones who came across the Trail of Tears. Many of those youngsters perished. They perished from disease and the harsh conditions of that awful trip. Some saw their parents and their grandparents endure much sorrow and hardship. We honor those children of yesterday. Our ancestors. We honor the children who grew up in Indian territory around the time of statehood. We honor our grandparents and our parents who were told to leave their language, their lifestyle and their culture behind. There is a child in each of us, a personal goal or dream to provide for our families which depend on us. We want our children to do their best when faced with trying circumstances. Today, a child has many challenges to overcome. There are many things that can lead them far away from the true path. The Chickasaw Nation does its best to see that our children, regardless of their circumstances, are not left behind or forgotten. Providing the basic needs of our children is one of our highest priorities. We have Head Start programs. We have a top-notched pediatric team in our health system. We have a child support enforcement program, we have the Honor Club, student of the month, boys and girls clubs, martial arts, summer camps, youth councils, Carter seminary and many other services and programs geared toward the special needs of our youth. These services are designed to give our children a better life and to keep them on the right path to achieving their dreams. We, Chickasaws, have always taken care of our own and with that we can't forget and shouldn't ever forget our elders.

Our elders are a living treasure. They enrich our lives and have much to teach us about life - about what it is to be Chickasaw. We do our level best to see that our elders have a good roof over their heads. That they have water, gas, and electricity to keep them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We make sure that our elders have nutritious food to eat. We have numerous senior sites across the Chickasaw Nation that help to do that. And, when the elders are not able to come to that site, we deliver the food to their homes. We consistently, constantly strive for our elders to receive the best in health care at our hospital and clinics. We all know that when our older adults have social activities in their environment, they live longer and have better lives. We consistently work toward that end.

Some of our revenue that is generated by our tribal businesses help fund the senior sites. This year, the revenue provided a large tour bus, which was very, very popular. This bus allows our elders to take trips and go on outings.

We should at all times honor the children of yesterday, our elders. Our people matter, and we continue to do all that we can to find out what the needs are and to work to meet those needs: whether it be housing or health or searching for promising job opportunities and providing education. We strive to enrich and enhance the lives of all Chickasaw people. You are about to see a video production. For those of you who have been to the annual meetings before and heard the State of the Nation, you will not see anything like what you have seen in the past. It is going to be very, very good. Our multimedia department has outdone themselves. The following production gives a small glimpse of not only how the tribe takes care of our children, but how we take care of all of our people.

Miko: Hi. I'm Miko Hughes. Youth and their families are a major focus for the Chickasaw Nation. There are lots of programs that give kids a chance to learn and grow, preparing them for a better future. From programs that combat family violence and substance abuse, to child support enforcement and family advocacy, the Chickasaw Nation takes great care to protect its children and their well-being. Jennifer Barnes is an example of the many youth who receive help each year. Statistically, she should have been a failure. A Native American girl from a single-parent home, raised at the national poverty level. But on May 11, 2002, she became a first generation college graduate. This is her story?

Jennifer Denoya Barnes was born on August 21, 1980. President Jimmy Carter had just announced the United States had developed stealth aircraft, and the country was wondering who shot J.R. on the TV show Dallas. Kramer vs. Kramer had just won an Oscar for best picture of the year, and "The Rose" by Bette Midler topped the music charts. Like lots of kids, this little girl was about to begin a journey many would never choose for themselves. Her strength and eloquence come from finding good in every bad situation and reacting in a positive way.

Jennifer: When I was 5, my parents were divorced, but I believe what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger.

I had to grow up fast. Joining the ranks of latchkey kids all over the country, I looked after myself out of necessity and for the survival of our family.

My responsibilities grew quickly when my little brother, Alan, started school. I was 9 and looking after my 4-year-old brother.

My mom remarried, so times were better financially. I finally had a chance to be a kid.

Miko: Just as Jennifer began to enjoy a more stable home life, this 11-year- old was again faced with the pain of divorce.

Jennifer: In order to provide for my brother and me, my mom often worked overtime as an operator at the hospital switchboard. While most of my friends were out playing, I was fixing dinner, running bathwater and occasionally tucking Alan into bed.

Sometimes when the sun went down, we were scared, but I learned to hide my fears for my brother's sake. I believe playing the role of protector made me stronger. I quickly learned to ignore fear and it disappeared.

Sharon: You bet it was tough. There were times I didn't know how the three of us would make it. I really wanted to be with my children, but I had to provide for them. It can rip a mother's heart in two. As a parent we wish we could do more and give our children a better life than we had growing up. I'm so proud of my daughter and what she's doing with her life.

Jennifer: I'll never forget my eighth-grade year. I attended my first fall retreat with youth services. There were all these adults, planning activities for us. They really cared about us and what we had to say. They provided an environment where it was cool to be a "good kid". There were lots of people to look up to and use as role models. That retreat changed my life.

Jay Keel: We created the fall retreat to give our kids a glimpse of leadership and healthy lifestyle principals. The retreat is full of support and encouragement for our kids to help them go out and be part of building strong families in the Chickasaw Nation. We want our kids to know that they can do anything they set out to do. We also want them to know that they have choices to make, and if they make good ones they can lead better lives.

Jennifer: Fathers are so important to girls as we grow up. When they're missing from your life, you tend to look in all kinds of places for male influence. I was blessed to have men of moral and spiritual integrity in my life. All the guys at youth and family services were there for me and offered fatherly guidance and love.

In the summer youth program, the value of $4.75 and the hour it took to make it, was a great life lesson. I viewed $12.00 as three hours of work and not just $12.00.

Miko: Jennifer is now attending law school at the University of Houston. She'll be the first to tell you that the road hasn't been easy, but the Chickasaw Nation has been there every step of the way: building character and self-esteem, teaching responsibility and offering hope with a helping hand.

Jennifer: As I head off to law school, I go, knowing there are lots of people in Ada keeping me in their prayers and hearts, smiling at my e-mails and still encouraging me from afar. I have received support and encouragement throughout high school and college.

Most recently, the Chickasaw Nation offered help in purchasing a laptop that I was required to have for law school.

The Chickasaw Nation has given me the opportunity to achieve my goals and dreams.

Who knows where I might have ended up? My life has been changed by the Chickasaw Nation. The programs and services and especially the employees, have always been there for me. They really care. They are not just doing a job, they're changing people's lives-- the lives like mine and those other Jennifer's out there. Thank you to the great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw Nation.

Miko: We salute Jennifer and the many other youth of today, who against all odds, are rising above their situations. With the help of the Chickasaw Nation, they will be the leaders, teachers and healers of tomorrow, making a difference for our tribe and its future.

(End video) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Katlyn: Lesley! Lesley! Lesley! Where are you?

Lesley: I'm over here!

Katlyn: Oh, there you are! What are you doing?

Lesley: This is the coolest stuff! I am borrowing this GPS equipment from our division of heritage preservation. In case you didn't know, GPS stands for Global Positioning Satellite System.

You probably know that this equipment is used to help preserve historical sites and repatriate ancestral graves.

Katlyn: Wow, Lesley! I'm impressed.

Lesley: Between Oklahoma and our homeland area in Mississippi, there were many Chickasaw villages and burial sites. When construction begins for buildings or highways, artifacts and gravesites of our ancestors are sometimes discovered. We help pinpoint and survey the areas and give help and advice on what to do with the discovery.

Katlyn: That's really great...but it has nothing to do with the next video. Remember...

Lesley: Okay, then. Move along to the next topic.

Katlyn: Health care is a top priority for the Chickasaw Nation. Many services are offered throughout the tribe, and they're growing and expanding every year. And if you keep messing with me, you'll probably need to take advantage of our physical therapy services.

(End Stage dialogue) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Caton Hill: Hi, I'm Caton Hill. Just as playing college basketball REQUIRES ME TO STAY FIT AND HEALTHY, your health and well-being are very important to the Chickasaw Nation. Today, the Chickasaw Nation offers health care from pre-natal and birth, to specialized programs and services for elders and everyone in-between.

In the 1960s, the Chickasaw Nation had a few "CHRs" or community health care representatives who would visit tribal citizens in their homes, giving limited check-ups and educating Chickasaw people about health and wellness. Since then, the Carl Albert Indian Health Facility in Ada, and clinics in Ardmore, Durant and Tishomingo have been established to help heal people and keep them well. In 1994, the Chickasaw Nation assumed administrative and operational control of Carl Albert -- a first for any Indian nation in the United States.

Jaden Martin is one of thousands of patients seen by the Chickasaw Nation's medical teams each year. Her story shows the care and service provided by Chickasaw Nation health experts each and every day. . .

Jerri: It was November 30, 2000, I'll never forget it. Jaden was 5 and we were working with her to remember to flush the toilet after each use. Thankfully, that day, she forgot.

Mike: That night I was about to give Jaden a bath, and after she had used the restroom, I noticed that there was dark-colored urine in the toilet.

Jaden promised us she hadn't put anything into the toilet, so we immediately called Carl Albert hospital and asked for Dr. Mason.

Dr. Mason: Dark yellow or orange-colored urine is not uncommon in children, but Coca-Cola-colored urine is a sign of kidney involvement. I asked the Martins to bring Jaden in for a urinalysis and some further testing. The tests were positive for blood but no protein in the urine, which is unusual for kidney disease. Jaden had already been started on antibiotics, so I asked that she return in a few weeks to repeat some of the tests unless the blood recurred.

Jerri: Mike and I were scared, but Jaden was excited because we were expecting. She knew that she was going to be getting a baby brother or baby sister. She was also excited because the holidays were coming up.

Two days before Christmas, I miscarried and had to explain to Jaden why God needed the baby back in heaven. I asked her to pray for God to send us another baby. I also asked God to heal Jaden and let us keep her since the discolored urine had returned.

Dr. Mason: I thought that we should obtain an ultrasound of her kidney to rule out an anatomical abnormality. There was an ultrasound done on January 4th at Carl Albert hospital and there was a mass near the upper part of the kidney.

Jerri: Mike usually wasn't able to attend Jaden's doctor appointments, but for some reason that day he brought her up for the ultrasound. I'll never forget the look on the technician's face as she told us that there was something on the ultrasound that shouldn't be there. At that point, Mike began to do something that I hadn't seen him do in 13 years - he began to cry.

Mike: It was pretty difficult for me because I'm a person who is always in control of situations and now I was faced with something that I had no control over. We were referred to the pediatrics office but Dr. Mason's was gone that day. We were able to see Dr. Iorga, who we were also very impressed with, and at that point he did let us know that it was a tumor and that we would be referred to Children's Hospital and it would probably be sometime next week before we could get in and I was very upset with that -- that we were going to have to wait a week. I couldn't deal with that; I needed to know right then what was wrong.

Jerri: We were walking to the car and were paged to return to pediatrics. Jaden had been approved for referral, and a doctor would be waiting for us at the door of Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City. We gathered up her records and Medisaw papers and drove to Oklahoma City.

Mike: Jaden loves country music and usually drives us crazy singing along with the radio. That day, she sang all the way to Oklahoma City, and it was the sweetest sound we ever heard.

Caton Hill: Mike and Jerri didn't tell Jaden how serious her condition was. They just told her that she was sick, and that the doctors would find out why. The first test ordered at Children's Hospital was a cat scan.

Jerri: In case I was pregnant, they wouldn't let me be in the room, so Mike held Jaden's hand during the cat scan. They also conducted more urine tests. We were called into a large conference room where we met with five doctors. They were pretty sure it was a neuroblastoma tumor, one of the deadliest forms of cancer, and it was located between her kidney and liver.

Mike: The doctors needed to do a full week of tests to make sure the cancer hadn't spread to other organs. They advised they would conduct surgery and if it had spread, they would immediately close her up and use chemotherapy to shrink it enough to conduct surgery later. The Sunday before the surgery, our pastor called Jerri, Jaden, and I to the front of the church, where he asked our deacons and the members of the church to lay hands on us and pray for Jaden and ourselves. From that time on, Jerri and I no longer felt weak and helpless, but empowered with a supernatural strength. And after that, we did not hear another negative report.

Jerri: They took her out of our arms into a four-hour surgery. Mike and I prayed and stared out the hospital window. At that moment, it began to snow. I knew the soft white snow was a sign from God that Jaden would be all right. The doctor came out and told us the good news.

Mike: Dr. Cheng and Dr. Kropp did further tests while Jaden was in surgery to try and determine where the blood in the urine was coming from that was causing the discoloration. What they found was that the blood in her urine had nothing to do with her cancer.

Jerri: Their exact words were, "It must have been a sign from God calling attention to this area, and Dr. Mason listened and responded just in time." They went on to say that this type of cancer shows no signs and usually goes undetected until it's too late for the patient. They told us to go to Ada and hug Dr. Mason -- and we did.

Mike: It wasn't one, but several miracles along the way that saved Jaden's life. She never had to go through chemo or radiation.

Jerri: Jaden, show them where they took the cancer out.

Mike: Who took the cancer out?

Jaden: Jesus.

Jerri: The doctors and staff at Carl Albert were the best. Their skill and compassion along with all the prayers, have given us more time to keep Jaden in our lives.

Caton Hill: Jaden will soon be 7-years-old, in the first grade and still cancer free.

Her prayers were answered by being healed and getting a baby brother, Cole. He will soon be a year old and some day, Mike and Jerri will tell him about the time God worked through people to ensure a future for him and his big sister.

(End Video) --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lesley: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600

Katlyn: What are you doing?

Lesley: This is the coolest stuff. I'm counting all the ways tribal businesses help fund programs and services for Chickasaw people like me.

Katlyn: Making money is important, but our many businesses offer quality jobs and great career opportunities for our citizens, too. The money generated is helping our tribe be self-sufficient and less dependent on federal government money.

Lesley: So, what do you think the tribe should do with all this money?

Katlyn: I think we should give it away.

Lesley, why don't you show the next video that shows what the tribe's businesses do for our people.

Lesley: Ok, guys. Play the tape.

(End Stage dialogue) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Neal McCaleb: Hello, I'm Neal McCaleb, the Asst. Secretary of the Department of Interior for Indian Affairs and a Chickasaw Indian. I'm very proud of my Chickasaw heritage, and I am very proud of what the Chickasaw Nation is doing today. I am very optimistic about our future.

Announcer: Our elders are important to us. Their lives are enriched with funds generated by tribal businesses.

Senior 1: I love the food! It's great!

Senior 2: We always have a great time here. And we are always meeting new people. Every day there is somebody new.

Senior 3: When we first started coming here, there were usually about 40 people. Now, there are usually over 100 people.

Senior 4: I have a good time. I love coming here and seeing my friends.

Melinda Newport: Nutrition services has benefited tremendously from the commitment of tribal funds to the building of our food distribution grocery store. We have been able to offer cooking classes, food demonstrations, grocery store tours all of these to out families to be able to learn how to prepare foods that our nutritious for them and how to select foods that might be more appropriate for their long-term health.

Announcer: The senior sites have been built with funds generated by tribal businesses. This year a new bus was purchased that enables our elders to travel in comfort and safety.

Senior 1: It was wonderful! We had the first trip that the bus ever made. We really enjoyed it.

Senior 2: The new bus gives us a lot of room - it's comfortable - it's great!

Jerry Couch: The new Bedre chocolate production facility and retail store will be open in Pauls Valley sometime this winter. This new facility will provide residents with tribal programs and services and economic opportunities for the citizens of Pauls Valley and the surrounding areas.

Lisa: I came to the realization that I was going to have to drive to Ada or Norman to work. I started driving to Ada to work for Chickasaw Enterprises for the Chickasaw tribe. Now, I am really excited that we are going to move to Pauls Valley. I will be closer to home, eliminate the drive and have a good job to boot.

Announcer: The tribe impacts other communities as well, like Ada and Sulphur.

Lonnie Beasley: It is just amazing what the Chickasaws have done in terms of building up the economic base of this area.

Announcer: In 1852, Bloomfield Academy school for girls was founded by the Chickasaw Nation and missionaries. Renamed in 1932, and eventually moved to Ardmore, Carter Seminary is a stable and safe place for boys and girls to live, during difficult and crucial times in their lives. Carter helps meet the needs of their kids and offers counseling, while keeping them in school. Carter provides continuity and help for over a hundred kids each year and receives some of its funding from revenue generated by Chickasaw businesses.

Chris Redmon: Enterprises has come through for us on a number of occasions. Some of them might not receive anything from home. Recreation equipment, activities, equipment, Christmas time - the staff got together and did some Christmas shopping, got the students some gifts and we had a great Christmas. Enterprises has just come through for us and for our students.

Neal McCaleb: The Chickasaws are the vanguard of economic development for all Indians across this great country. No longer, will the reservation boundaries be between poverty and prosperity because of the efforts of the talented leaders and dedicated Native Americans. I am very pleased to have the job that I have now, to be a part of that; and I am pleased that I can do so with the heritage of the great and unconquered Chickasaw Nation. Thank you very much.

(End video) ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Katlyn: Chin chukma, chikasha anompah itahnoli, chickasha nompah chukma

Lesley: What did you just say?

Katlyn: Chin chukma, chikasha anompah itahnoli, chickasha nompah chukma
Didn't you go to the FREE Chickasaw language classes! You know we were supposed to do that for this presentation.

Lesley: Oh, no! I totally forgot about that.

Katlyn: That's no excuse. There are several places throughout the tribe where you can learn to speak Chickasaw.

Nonna chee-keh-tanoheducation, Lesley. Education is important. There are lots of scholarships and incentives the Chickasaw Nation offers for people of all ages.

Lesley: Wow! You think I could ever get a scholarship?

Katlyn: Well, I'm sure you could qualify for something. Watch this and maybe you'll get a little smarter.

(End stage dialogue) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Cmdr. Herrington: Hello. I'm Commander John Herrington. Working at NASA and traveling into space is a dream come true, but it's taken years of education and training to get here. Education is important and necessary to achieve your goals and dreams. Just as NASA does its best to educate children and ignite their dreams, the Chickasaw Nation offers many educational opportunities to its citizens of every age.

Oral tradition says no Chickasaw child was ever lost in earlier times. They knew the forests in which they lived, and at night, they could find their way back home by following the stars. The next segments highlight real people who have benefited by tribal programs like Head Start, Governor's Honor Club, student of the month, higher education scholarships and tutoring for GEDS. Like its children of the past, the Chickasaw Nation strives to equip its people with knowledge, allowing them to pursue their dreams and follow their own star.

The mission of Chickasaw Nation early childhood development is "To share experiences with their Indian children and their families by contributing to their total development, enabling them to walk the pathway to excellence."

Leslie Rogers: Major is a 4-year-old, special needs child with a classification of chromosome genetic problem. He is enrolled at Chickasaw Nation Head Start and has been since he was 3-years-old. The Chickasaw Nation has provided special one on one care that he could not receive anywhere else. He has learned to say his alphabet and the pledge of allegiance - all of those special things that children at Head Start do. We have so much faith in the Chickasaw Nation and child-care program. We wouldn't be where we are today without the Chickasaw Nation and for that we are most grateful.

Cmdr. Herrington: Johnson-O'Malley or JOM funds are provided for approved public school systems within the Chickasaw Nation service area. The program is designed to financially assist the efforts of eligible Native American students.

Kathy Wellington: Our students are very proud of their heritage and to be a Chickasaw. I always ask them to be the best that they can be. We need to reward our students for these gifts and the Chickasaw Nation does that.

Beth Campbell: I am very excited about the Governor's Honor Club. It began as a pilot program in 1997 at the Ada public schools, and it was such a great success that it was expanded to include 44 schools. One of the great things about the Governor's Honor Club is the letters that the students send. Here is one from Tess Martin. She writes:

"To my Governor...I would like to thank you for handing out $25.00 and I would like you to keep handing out money to all 'A' students and I want so do your job and keep handing out that $25.00...have a nice day handing out money, and I would like to thank you very much."

Tess and her little brother Taylor stood out to me because they were siblings and were sort of in competition with each other to be in the Honor Club. They live with their mom and money was tight during the holidays, so these kids went out with their $25.00 gift cards that they got for making straight A's and bought Christmas presents for their mom.

Cmdr. Herrington:The Workforce Investment Act and tribal vo-tech programs assist students wishing to further their education but do not want to attend a higher education institution. The WIA program is based on income and can pay tuition or a stipend while the students attend class and is available to any Native American in the Chickasaw Nation service area. The tribal vo-tech program is for Chickasaw citizens who wish to attend one of the six vo-tech centers located within the tribal service area.

Teeoti Littlefield: I came to a point where I was dissatisfied with my career and my job and I knew that I could do better for me and my family. So I decided to quit my full-time job even though I have three children and feared the loss of the income, I knew that it would pay off in a short time. I enrolled in the LPN program, and I have now achieved my goal of becoming an LPN. I am now pursuing an RN degree at Seminole State College. My children and my husband are proud of my accomplishment. The Chickasaw Nation has been there to help me with books, tuition and expenses. I don't know if I could have achieved my dream of becoming a nurse without the help of the Chickasaw Nation.

Cmdr. Herrington: The Chickasaw Nation GED classes assist adults who have not received a high school diploma. It provides tutoring sessions to help prepare students to pass the GED test, giving them the equivalent of a high school diploma. The department of education even helps provide the GED testing fee.

Amy Ennis: Since I was a little girl, I wanted to be an attorney. But after I graduated high school, I wasn't able to attend college like I wanted, and I had to go work, full-time like a lot of my friends. Eventually it got old and I started thinking about my dream. So I was tired of trying. My mom told me how the Chickasaw Nation had helped my brother get through college, and so I thought maybe there was a way that the Chickasaw Nation could help me get through college too. I filled out all the paperwork and about three weeks before school started, the Chickasaw Nation contacted us and told me that I was going to get to the help that I needed to attend college. So now, I am attending Cameron University and going for my criminal justice major, and I would just like to thank the Chickasaw Nation for helping me to achieve my dream.

Cmdr. Herrington:The Chickasaw Nation takes older tribal computers and recycles them for distribution to Chickasaw citizens. This program also provides experience, education and good jobs for those who refurbish the hardware and reinstall software. Now that many of the elders are receiving computers, the senior computer literacy program is becoming very popular.

Living on the moon and traveling to Mars is a reality for this and future generations. Getting there will still require educated people who can think, create, and dream. The Chickasaw Nation plans to be there by offering education opportunities for its people. Allowing them the chance to follow their stars and always find their way back home.

(End of video) -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Governor: You have seen a lot this morning. It was a celebration of the Chickasaw Nation and the remarkable achievements that the tribe and its people have made. You saw some very positive results. We know there are some things that we don?t do as well as we should. We are continuing to strive to improve all the services and all the things that we do.

You saw some very living accounts of positive results. We make a lot of progress, and it's been in a lot of areas. But there are still challenges that we face and some are repeated. One is the repeated challenge of sovereign powers and authorities that we as Chickasaw Nation enjoy. Every year we must continue to work for creating new opportunities for our people. Every year we see a level of success toward meeting those.

As Chickasaws, we never left one of our own behind. That is our tradition, and it is a challenge that we have accepted. Meeting that challenge today in just about every phase of work that we do, the tribal government is gearing toward the future.

When it comes to education, housing, health care, nutrition, family services and special needs programs, for our people we are continuing to design those things in such a way as to help people live better lives. I think all of us will agree that each generation has the hope that its children will have it better.

It is probably safe to say that the next generation, our children and our grandchildren right now, will indeed be able to avail themselves to more opportunities than we've had. Just as the challenges that we face have been different from those of our parents, so will the challenges of our children be different still. As have our parents at raising us, we must work to prepare our children for those challenges that will be unique for their generation. That is why we are working so hard to build the tribal economy to provide education opportunities and work opportunities. And to foster good health and safe living for all of us.

If we are able to help the next generation provide for themselves, they will be free to work for goals and objectives which they in turn will set for their next generation. Our challenges are many, but so are our opportunities. The Chickasaw people have never shied away from our problems. We have always been strong and independent, working together to overcome obstacles.

This is the tradition which we continue today. As Chickasaws it is the least we can do. As Chickasaws, we accept those challenges and unite as one people. As Chickasaws, we will not fail. Let us look to the future and let's grab hold of the future and make it ours.