2003 State of the Nation Address

43rd Annual Meeting
Governor Bill Anoatubby
10/4/2003 4:37:00 PM

Good morning. First, thank you for allowing me to be your governor for another four years. I can think of no greater honor or privilege than to serve the Chickasaw people. We will...we must...continue building our nation, together.

We work diligently to communicate with the Chickasaw people. The progress report, which was mailed earlier this year, details the growth we have seen in the tribe. In addition, today you received an annual report. This report is audited. You will see a significant improvement over last year. We are pleased by our financial progress.

I offer to you now that if there are other things we can do to provide you with information, we want to do them. There is a lot happening at the Chickasaw Nation.

As you have seen here today, the state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong. We are in a time of growth and economic prosperity the likes of which our tribe has never seen. We have much to be thankful for.

We are here to celebrate those who have gone before us and those who are blazing new trails every day...our heroes and legends who followed their dreams. We have current day Chickasaw heroes who are special to all of us.

Commander John Bennett Herrington has gone where no other Native American has gone before. His journey into space marked a new beginning for Chickasaws. His accomplishments are inspiring our youth to pursue their own dreams.

Tom Cole served in the Oklahoma state senate as the Secretary of State and now serves in the U.S. Congress. He and his mother, Helen Cole, have a legacy of public service.

Neal McCaleb's dedication to Native American issues is well known. He served in the Oklahoma legislature, as the Oklahoma Department of Transportation secretary under two different state governors and has served as the assistant secretary for Native American affairs. His work has greatly benefited our people and he continues to work for our people today.

It wouldn't be right of me to stand here and not express to you something about my personal hero. My father passed away when I was only three years old leaving my mother as the sole supporter of our family. She worked hard, but she still made it a point to be home before I left for school and when I returned. Her strong attitude and constant challenges taught me to appreciate the little things and make the most of what I had. She was a living example of hard work and perseverance. She was my hero.

A hero can be anyone. A hero is most often an ordinary person who does extraordinary things. They are true to what they believe, never backing down and never giving up.

Such a heroic attitude exists in the heart of every Chickasaw. Chickasaw people are proud. Chickasaw people are strong. Throughout history the Chickasaws have often had to fight against insurmountable odds. There were times when those who opposed us thought we were beaten, but we came back stronger and more united. The Chickasaw Nation has been and continues to be unconquered and unconquerable.

We have seen much growth and progress this past year. We have seen growth in our business sector as well as in the programs and services available to the Chickasaw people...but we can do better. A mark of a great nation is how it works for its people. We are all proud of what we have accomplished, together.

Our mission is to improve the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people. This is done by providing opportunities for Chickasaws to learn and to grow...by providing the chance for all of us to reach outside the world we know. Chickasaws look for a better way; a dignified way.

Just this past summer, 80 Chickasaw students attended the first annual Chickasaw Nation Aviation and Space Academy (CNASA). Eighty Chickasaws had the chance to learn something new. You saw in the video how much CNASA meant to some of the students who attended. These students not only attended a camp. They spent a week learning... through written materials and hands on experimentation. These students were striving for something more.

Also, this summer many students attended football clinics, golf camp, leadership camps, entrepreneurship camp and the tennis clinic. Many young people worked at the tribe's offices. We work diligently to give these young people a good work experience, teaching them the work ethic we would like them to carry into their adult lives.

Now why would we do this? Why would we offer these activities to our students? I think the reason is clear -- to give them every opportunity to succeed in life. To give them the opportunities that we, who are older, may not have had. Our students are the future leaders of our tribe?we must prepare them for tomorrow.

In the videos, you saw some of the new facilities we opened or that are under construction...these are not just buildings...But places for things to happen. We opened our third nutrition services center, located in Purcell. These are more than food distribution centers...they are places where diet and food preparation counseling is provided.

You've heard me say it before...and I say it again, without reservation...we lift up our elders. Our elders are one of our most precious resources. They share with us the stories of the past and guide us to our future. We must remember the struggles they have endured. We broke ground on two new senior sites this summer...one in Purcell and one in Pauls Valley. At these sites, our seniors can gather for meals and more importantly, fellowship one with the other. We now have 11 senior sites....but we are not done. We have plans to continue expanding this program, but also many of our other programs.

Our health system is still growing. A new clinic, also located in Purcell, is under construction. This new site moves us closer to our vision of health care availability within a 35-mile radius from anywhere within the Chickasaw Nation. By the end of the year, the new Diabetes Care Center should be open. All diabetic care services will be housed under one roof, making your visit more convenient and more complete.

The Family Life Center in Ada is almost complete. Modeled after Lifestyle Center of America, located near Sulphur, the family life center will have cardiovascular equipment, weight training equipment, an aerobics room, gymnasium and swimming pool. This new facility helps us get closer to our goal of providing the resources for preventative health care.

We want to do more than just treat illnesses. We want to help prevent diseases such as diabetes. Through education and providing the necessary means, we can help the Chickasaw people improve their overall health.

Housing is another important function of the tribe. As you saw in the video, we have constructed and released 55 new homes. In the last five years the tribe has developed or has in development more than 300 homes. We anticipate another 300 homes within the next five years. This year we implemented a new storm shelter program. Our housing program, Chuka Chukmasi, which assists citizens at all income levels all over the country, is currently nominated for the Harvard Project's "Honoring Nations" award. We find out the results of that competition next month at the National Congress of American Indians quarterly meeting. It is our hope that the Chuka Chukmasi program will be our transition program from housing assistance to a traditional mortgage.

The Children's Village in Kingston is currently under construction. Students should be moving into the cottages by the end of the year. The children's village replaces Carter Seminary and provides a friendlier and more family-like atmosphere. Once complete, 70 students will live there. These students currently attend Kingston Public Schools. Many of our students at the Children's Village can participate in activities such as the livestock program. This program has been instrumental in developing character, teaching responsibility and building self-esteem.

Our government is also progressing. After great effort, the Chickasaw District Court will soon begin hearing family law cases, including adoption, child support, child custody and visitation. We envision a district court that blends traditional values with a western style system to create a fair, equitable and effective court system. The new court should be operating by the first of the year.

All of us as Chickasaws should be proud that our PREP training program is going to be featured in Time magazine. PREP stands for Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program. The PREP program helps families learn better communication skills, approaches to problem-solving and how to develop reasonable expectations. Due to our success with the program, the Chickasaw Nation has been given the task of developing "Native American PREP", which will be used by participating tribes across the United States. We know that healthy families help build a healthy nation.

You have probably noticed that we have opened several new businesses this year. The new Bedre' Chocolate factory opened this past July in Pauls Valley. This company has great potential. With this new facility, we will be able to increase production and capacity, expand our markets and improve profitability. We opened two new entertainment centers...one in Thackerville and one in Davis. We opened a new travel plaza in Kingston and recently broke ground on a family entertainment center in Ada. Families will use this facility to spend quality time together.

Our businesses are important to the future of the Chickasaw Nation. Revenue from these enterprises provides the funding needed for tribal operations. Good use is being made of these funds. This money allows the funding of senior programs, Chickasaw-specific health programs, education scholarships, youth and family programs, housing programs and other beneficial purposes.

It is vital to our future that we locate new opportunities to diversify our business interests. For example, we are exploring the hospitality industry... three new restaurants recently opened in Thackerville and a new hotel/restaurant is under construction near Davis on I-35.

It is wonderful that we have these profitable businesses to fund tribal operations, programs and services. Also important...is that these businesses are creating job opportunities. Jobs are being created in many communities all across the Chickasaw Nation...and even some across the United States.

Recently someone said that we can not employ every Chickasaw. I say, why not? Why not set a goal to be able to employ every Chickasaw who wants to work for the nation? If we say we can't, we never will. My mom used to say, "can't never did anything."

Opportunities abound for our people. Our businesses and tribal government have positions that require a variety of skills and talents. Offering opportunity is important. Opportunities lead to self-sufficiency. Chickasaws are strong and proud...and want self-sufficiency...self-sufficiency for ourselves and our government.

Since 1987, our mission has been to improve the OVERALL quality of life of the Chickasaw people. There are several ways that we are working to do that. We must improve all aspects of life...from economic development to heritage preservation.

We are proud of our heritage and excited that this next year, we will begin construction on the long-awaited Chickasaw Cultural Center. To protect our nation, we must educate those around us...including our own people. We must teach our history...our children must learn where they came from...what was lost...and what we are working to recapture. The cultural center will help us do that.

This last year we settled an old dispute and we have learned of a new one. After 95-years, we settled the Arkansas Riverbed case. We worked with the Choctaw Nation, Cherokee Nation, federal government and with our congressional delegation to resolve this matter with a fair and equitable solution.

But, even today, there are groups who oppose our rights as a nation. A group called One Nation questions and hopes to diminish the authority and privileges we enjoy as a sovereign power. Chickasaws, history is repeating itself. We have defended our sovereignty in the past and we must defend it now.

It is important that we know our challengers. We must work together to defend and protect our future. We have made much progess but we must continue striving for progress. We must not rest.

We should not rest until every Chickasaw has an opportunity for an education...until every elder is properly cared for...until every Chickasaw has a decent place to live...until every able-bodied Chickasaw is employed...until our language is once again thriving...until quality healthcare is available to every Chickasaw...until we have completed our vision for our tribe.

We have many heroes in the history of the Chickasaw Nation. We must honor them with our continued vigilance to make our nation the best it can be. How do you see our nation and what do you believe is its future? Remember, how you see the future of the Chickasaw Nation shapes the future of the Chickasaw Nation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the state of the Chickasaw Nation is excellent...it is strong. It will take us all...but we will continue building this nation together. Thank you.