2005 State of the Nation Address

45th Annual Meeting
Governor Bill Anoatubby
10/1/2005 4:33:23 PM

2005 State of the Nation Part 1

2005 State of the Nation Part 2

2005 State of the Nation Part 3

Good morning. Please. Good morning. And it is an honor to be here and welcome you, again, to this annual meeting of the Chickasaw Nation. The great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw Nation.

For many years Chickasaws from all over the world, yes, all over the world, have gathered to celebrate being a part of the magnificent family that is the Chickasaw Nation.

It's been a wonderful journey for me, and I hope it has been for you.

Congressman Cole, thank you for being here today. Please, stand again. Let's recognize our congressman, Chickasaw, Tom Cole.

Congratulations Kelley Haney, new Chief of the great Seminole Nation. Welcome. Please be recognized again. A long time friend. Congratulations, again.

We're honored to have our state representatives here. Paul Roan, Wes Hilliard and Terry Hyman please stand and be recognized once again.

And all the way from Washington D.C. Thank you Mr. Blackwell for being here. Thank you.

We're grateful for your attendance here today. I was told there was one more individual that's over 80 years old that is slightly more than 80. I've been told Edna Gooden is in the audience. Is that correct? Edna, are you out there? One hundred years old. Thank you. We honor our elders because they are honorable. They are those folks who passed before us have led us to where we are today. Helping us, as a nation, to be who we are today. They have done a wonderful job, don't you think?

I did a little inquiry about this annual meeting. The first annual meeting that was ever held was at Sealey Chapel between Connerville and Pontotoc. I'm sure both towns would like to claim Sealey Chapel, but it's in between. It was 1959 and, ladies and gentlemen, there are some folks in this audience today that attended that very first annual meeting.

I would like to read a list of folks who had attended and that first annual meeting. Of course, Reverend Jesse Humes and Vinnie Mae Humes were there. Overton James, Ovije Colbert, Reverend Jonas Imotichey and Josie Imotichey, Emmitt Sealey, Johnston Perry, and we had a guest from the Choctaw Nation, Principal Chief Jimmy Belvin, Bob Kingsbury, Chanena Roach, Marie Gibson, Darius and Erie Cravatt and Lillie Wisdom.

If you attended that very first annual meeting of the Chickasaw Nation of the Chickasaw people, please stand and be recognized. Apparently, I missed a couple. I saw Pauline Brown stand here. Don't you think they laid the ground work for us? We didn't have a nation.

After the turn of the century the kind, federal government thought they had done away with us. They've got another thing coming, don't they? Because we have heart, we have strength and we have the will to endure and go on and exist as a nation. Thank you for that first gathering. We didn't have a government at that time. My, what a change. My, what a change.

Before we go into our discussion about the tribe and the successes and the future goals, there are some other matters that also deserve our attention.

The past few weeks, many of our fellow Americans have undergone the wrath of nature in the form of two terrible hurricanes.

Some of those folks who were severely affected were citizens of the Chickasaw Nation, and we were pleased to provide some disaster relief to them.

We also provided help to others that were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

During the aftermath of Hurricane Rita, we are providing a place to stay for 43 citizens of the Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas. They're at the Chickasaw Motor Inn in Sulphur.

We always want to be there for our people and for all people.

As part of our relief efforts, 14 members of the Chickasaw Nation Search and Rescue Team were also sent to Louisiana to help in locating victims and otherwise lost people.

During their search and their time there, the team accounted for 67 "live" rescues!

The search and rescue team is responsible for many activities, working with many local law enforcement and other agencies.

I would like to have as many of the search and rescue team that are here to please come on stage and let's give them a hearty round of applause!

Now we have recognized their valor by giving them a certificate of recognition and they are each holding that. Please bear with me a moment while I shake their hands.

Note: The following were recognized by Governor Anoatubby during this time. Daniel Arms, Mitchell Buck, Nick Dalton, Josh Gilliam, Johanna Hoover, John Humphers, Casey Kelley, Derekah Kilcrease, Roman Kilcrease, Kandice Malena, J.B. Nelson, Paula Nelson, Wesley Roberts, David Saint, Ronald Scott and Thomas Vaughn. This group represented more that 60 search and rescue team members.

This team has been invaluable in locating and rescuing countless people. These fine people are but one example of the quality of our Chickasaw Nation employees.

Let's recognize our search and rescue team with our applause again! Thank you to the men and women of our search and rescue team.

You may have seen a photograph of one of our team members on the front page of the Dallas Morning News, and I think they put it on the second page of the Daily Oklahoman. It was a nationally released picture. I think one of the rescue team members was holding a weapon. I think they were looking out for alligators.

While we are here at home, others of our family are across the oceans, serving their country in our nation's armed forces.

While physically far away, these brave men and women are never far from our thoughts.

We have sent each one of the Chickasaws in the armed forces overseas a special package. And in that package we have some international phone cards, a disposable camera and many other items.

Those packages were sent to Chickasaws, spouses of Chickasaws, and employees of the Chickasaw Nation and spouses of employees or children of tribal employees.

We did much the same thing during the Operation Desert Storm. We appreciate our armed forces.

As I mentioned earlier, this is our special time.

We not only gather for our annual meeting, but we celebrate our heritage and culture through the Chickasaw Festival.

All week there have been events and activities which have drawn quite a number of people.

This morning... this program is a big part of our annual meeting. It provides a look at the efforts we've taken this year.

That's one of the purposes of our annual meeting-- to recognize the achievements of the past year and to share our plans of what is to come.

Your input has been a large factor in our plans for the future.

We've always been bold in our beliefs and we have carried that boldness into our actions.

We've had obstacles to overcome in setting and reaching all the goals, but those obstacles have not stopped us.

The last few years you may have noticed that we had quite a presentation as part of the annual meeting. And if you'll remember, last year I did mention that we were going to separate those out and this year we do have a special presentation, Hina Falaa. And it will be this afternoon, 2 p.m. It's a collaboration between our multimedia department and our division of arts and humanities.

When was the last tribal census? Do you remember? I mean one that was conducted by the Chickasaw Nation?

To our knowledge, there has NEVER been a tribally-sponsored census, although one was done in conjunction with the Dawes Commission's work in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Consequently, we have decided to do one. You should have received your tribal census document in the mail by now.

This census is very important. This is another chance for you to have a significant impact on the future.

The importance of completing and returning that census cannot be over-emphasized.

We need to know about you and your family, so that we may adequately plan for the future and continue our efforts for the present.

Your information is maintained confidentially. No one, but your tribe, will see that form.

If you happen to have your completed census, you can return it today to one of the designated booths located across the street in the registration area.

If you turn in your census today, you will receive a free T-shirt and an attractive tote bag.

And to be registered for a special cash drawing, your census must be postmarked by October 18.

Please help us. Help us plan our future by providing your input through the census.

When we take a look back at our achievements of the past year, I believe we will all see that our efforts have been fruitful. They've improved the overall quality of life for Chickasaws.

Our main concern must always be what is right for the Chickasaw people.

With that belief in mind, we have concentrated our current efforts toward the young, the family and toward our elders, while at the same time, helping those in between.

We have diversified the types of programs we offer in our youth and family division.

For the young ones, there have been numerous special interest camps, such as the Chickasaw Nation Air and Space Academy, the golf, softball, football, cultural and leadership camps.

These camps are all designed with the needs of our youth in mind.

Many young people attended and participated in those camps and similar programs this year.

This past year was also the very first year that we provided clothing grants to our youngest students; more than 800 such grants were issued.

Our child care program has also expanded to teaching the Chickasaw language to one-, two- and three-year-olds.

Our Head Start program enrolled 276 children in its classroom program and had 55 students in its summer program.

The child care center that's located in Ada, it's designed for 89 children, and 89 children were regularly served by the center this past year.

Other needs of our young are also being addressed. Needs such as tutoring, counseling, after-school and many other programs, designed to help our youth to be the best that they can be, to achieve their personal goals, and to prepare them to be Chickasaw leaders of tomorrow.

We have also provided the very best of everything we can for the children that live in the new Chickasaw Children's Village.

Evidence of the success there includes the personal successes of those children. The students living at the village have achieved an overall grade point average of 3.0. By the way, ten students made it to the very top, with a 4.0 average! I believe these are marvelous accomplishments for these students.

Other students throughout the United States have benefited from the Governor's Honor Club.

This program encourages our students to strive for excellence.

There are more than 8,500 students enrolled in the honor club in schools all across the country.

Our higher education programs have helped more than 1,300 students with grants and scholarships totaling nearly $3 million this past year.

Another positive point to note is the number of Chickasaw students that have been helped with funding and who graduated from college has seen a 50% increase over the past five years!

Another of our primary goals is to help our families.

We believe the family unit must be strong, resilient, just like our ancestors were.

The family is the basic unit of our culture. Our society must have that in order for it to do well.

Our nation can only be strong if our families are strong.

The services we provide to families include the healthy families program, the sole purpose of which is to provide the tools to strengthen the family.

Marriage counseling, violence prevention, relationship understanding, foster care and adoption, strong family development and fatherhood accountability have all been the focus of our family programs this year.

Individual family needs are also being addressed, tailoring the services to meet those needs.

In that effort we include our vocational rehabilitation program, which provided services to more than 100 of our citizens who were challenged with problems of their own.

The program provided counseling services, vocational and medical evaluations, alcohol and drug counseling referrals, programs to enhance clients' ability to be employed, training and various support groups, including one for those suffering from diabetes and one for lupus sufferers.

The Chuka Chukmasi program, which helps Chickasaws with home loans, closed 55 mortgages for a total of $4.7 million!

Twenty-six families were helped with down payments and closing costs so that they might become home owners.

That is but one of our services which are available to Chickasaws, no matter where you live!

We also installed 740 storm shelters at the homes of many of our families.

We are currently looking at ways to expand this program because of its popularity and because of the great benefit it provides by keeping our families safe.

The housing division also built 48 new homes just this past year, that's 142 homes since October of 2003, and has 44 homes under construction at this very moment.

Under the Homeowners Maintenance Program, services were provided to 221 homes.

Five homes were made handicap accessible.

We all recognize that people must be or should become employed so that they can provide for their family's own basic needs.

To that end, we have increased the options for employment within the tribe.

As of today, we have more than 7,000 employees. Part of what's remarkable about that is that nearly 2,000 of those jobs were created since I talked to you last October.

Those employees are not just limited to working here in the Chickasaw Nation, but all across the country.

Through Chickasaw Nation Industries, we now have employees in 48 states!

Employment of Chickasaws has increased by 38% this past year, and by an astonishing 155% in the last five years!

Perhaps one of our greatest national treasures is our elders. We have recognized them here today.

Our elders programs are celebrating 25 years of service.

We now have 10 senior sites across the Chickasaw Nation, and we have plans to expand that number so that we will be able to serve more elders. They can enjoy themselves and to live more fulfilled lives.

For the next fiscal year, we are planning a center in Duncan. I noticed that got a little bit of applause from the Pickens District.

Another one of the more successful programs is the Chickasaw Nation Health System.

Just recently, the health system has been awarded accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations, known as JCAHO!

The JCAHO says that the Chickasaw Nation Health System earned approval for being in line with national standards for health care quality and safety.

The commission evaluated our entire system, including the clinics in Ada, Ardmore, Durant, Purcell and Tishomingo, as well as the Carl Albert Indian Health Facility in Ada.

The commission's survey revealed that the Chickasaw Nation Health System has continuously raised the quality and safety of its programs and operations to the highest level.

It included a very thorough investigation of the health system's quality of care services, the environment in which that care is provided and safety and service performance.

That's a very exceptional performance, especially for a health system that last year had more than 350,000 patient visits, which is about 50,000 more than we served the year before.

In keeping with our health-oriented programs, this year we opened a new wellness center in Ardmore and a nutrition center and food distribution site, both on the Carter Seminary campus.

I've got some more good news having to do with the Health System. Now this is quite an adventure to embark upon, but right now we are evaluating how we might expand the Carl Albert Indian Health Facility, which now houses services on a 130,000-square-foot facility.

Our plans include to almost triple its present size, to about 370,000 square feet!

Now, we're going to need some help with that, Congressman Cole. And everybody.

Now you know with an expansion like that we're going to need to add doctors and nurses and other support personnel.

The services will be increased. We'll have more patient beds, a women's health care center is planned, expanded ambulatory surgery, increased diagnostic services like CT scans and mammography and expanded outpatient services for programs like the dental and eye clinics.

We expect and we hope that this project can be complete by the year 2008.

Our efforts at gathering and preserving parts of the Chickasaw past have never been stronger!

With the expanded Chickasaw language program, the increasing museum collections and the tribe's art collection continuing to grow, more and more is becoming known and shared about the history and culture of this great nation.

You'll see evidence of these efforts all over Tishomingo today.

There's one exhibit that, please don't miss. Now, I know that Lona Barrick invited you to the capitol building and it's wonderful in itself, but there's a special project that's underway right now that you saw the video about and that's our renowned Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen. And this exhibit is on display at the capitol grounds. This project is a series of paintings of Chickasaw elders, those people that we are honoring here today.

His work is always impressive, and we believe you will be truly delighted if you'd visit this exhibit.

Events unique to Chickasaws have been going on all week, with the cultural evening at Kullihoma, the Hall of Fame reception and numerous activities throughout the week.

One of our unique accomplishments is the series of Chickasaw comic books that have been produced. Now who would have thought that we would do comic books? But you know what? It's amazing what you can accomplish.

You should have received one of those in the mail. Did you like that comic book?

These are intended obviously to reach our youth and they teach a great deal about our history and culture. And they're in a format that is appealing to our youth, but I sort of liked them, too.

Have you or your children viewed any of these comic books? I think they're worth while. They're a series of five right now and they've been very, very popular.

Our arts and humanities division provided services to more than 10,000 students in the Chickasaw Nation and the surrounding areas.

The Chickasaw Children's Choir that performed this morning, they've performed at numerous events both inside and outside of the Chickasaw Nation. Weren't they great?

Much of our progress this past year has been due to the infusion of the tribe's own money into the programs and services. This last year we infused $37 million into tribal programs!

That money comes from business earnings.

We haven't touched the trust funds in years. The dollars that we earn from our Chickasaw enterprises have been utilized to expand the programs and improve the programs and our businesses have experienced tremendous growth.

The net income increased 128% from fiscal year 2003 to just the end of fiscal year 2004.

We opened a 90-room hotel at WinStar in Thackerville.

We have construction underway for an 18-hole championship golf course at Thackerville. I know we don't have any Chickasaws that play golf.

We began remodeling the Lazer Zone in Ada to better accommodate the needs for family entertainment. We're adding a putt-putt golf course, three batting cages, a special toddler and little kids play area and brand new bowling equipment.

The facility at Newcastle was also given a general facelift.

There's a new 16,000-square-foot building that was constructed at Wilson. We installed some new fuel pumps and overhead canopy, and it's almost complete.

It looks like Pickens District has a cheering section down here.

And the Ada West facility was also expanded. It's growing and we had to accommodate its growing operations.

And it's really easy to see that the more that we invest in the businesses, the more that we can earn in the way of profit. That's part of where the tribal dollars are going to help expand the businesses.

We've looked at many programs today - this morning.

And some of them receive federal funding, but many of those don't receive federal funding.

And we operate some of those programs using only the funds that we generate from our businesses. Without those businesses, many of the things that we do couldn't be done.

We augment the federal programs through adding these tribal dollars.

During the past year, our programs received $81.7 million in federal funds.

I've already told you that we added $37 million in tribal money to that, so that you, the Chickasaw people, would receive the benefits!

We get an audit done every year. The audited report dated Sept. 30, 2004, showed that the Chickasaw Nation's assets grew by nearly $115 million.

I thought that we were doing good last year. We had $306 million in assets last year and by September 30, 2004; we had grown to $421 million. Now, because we're behind a little bit on our reporting, the fiscal year ending September 30, we always hand to you an August 31, 2005 report as a part of your packet when you register. That report showed that we have an increase of $82.3 million through August 31 of this year.

Our phenomenal growth has never been more dramatic or more successful!!

Maintaining that growth to the benefit of the Chickasaw people is one of the challenges which lie ahead, but it is one that we have demonstrated we can seize as our own!

It's my great honor to report to you on the status of this great nation.

The state of the nation has never, in all our magnificent history, been better!!!

Even with our growth and increase, we can't become complacent.

We have much to do, and do it we shall!

My mother, she's a great lady. When I was a young man, a young boy, I would go to her and ask her if I could do something and she might say yes and she might say no.

If she said no, there may have been that a lot of other kids doing it and I said, "Well, everybody else is doing it." And she would often times tell me, "Well, you know son; just because everybody else is doing it doesn't mean that you need to."

And as we approach our plans for the future, we have to look at everything that we are doing to make sure we are doing it. Not just because everybody else is doing it, but because it's something that we should do for the Chickasaw people.

So that is what guides us.

I would like to highlight some other plans that we have for the future.

These plans are, of course, flexible, and all are designed with a specific end result in mind, and that is to be of service to the Chickasaw people.

We plan to continue creating new job opportunities, including the addition of 1,500 more jobs with the opening of the Riverwind facility in Goldsby.

The number of jobs will increase even beyond that, through a new program that we are working on. We call it the career development and job training program. It's under design.

This new program will provide an opportunity for most any Chickasaw who really wants to come to work for the tribe.

Job opportunities will be provided in both government-type service programs and in our enterprises.

We have Chickasaws who are skilled, some are highly skilled and others may need training and skills development.

There are many jobs which will need to be filled in the coming years.

We want to help create a ready source of skilled, qualified Chickasaws to fill the jobs with the tribe.

This program will provide a chance to obtain experience by serving as a combination mentor/employment/on-the-job training service.

For this program to succeed, obviously, each participant must prepare themselves, apply themselves, and reach the education and knowledge skill levels that are needed for this Chickasaw Nation 21st century tribe!

As long as the willingness and determination are there, we will do all we can to prepare Chickasaw people and put them to work for the tribe.

Next spring, another program will be started and it provides financial assistance again to students, specifically for the purchase of text books.

Books are a very expensive part of higher education, and we help with expenses in the way of scholarships and grants already. But these books, they're very expensive and we need to help with that.

Our support of education and vocational training efforts has been growing year after year.

The future will see that trend continue.

There are two more projects for the future that are very exciting.

Those programs are the Chickasaw Press and the Chickasaw Nation Publication Awards.

The Chickasaw Press will be our own publishing company, which will allow us to print books of importance to the Chickasaw people as well as books which are out of print.

The first book to be published by the Chickasaw Press is the biography of Pearl Carter Scott. The title is Never Give Up, and it is written by Dr. Paul Lambert.

This gives us an opportunity. The Chickasaw Press will also be able to help new authors.

Among the books of already identified interest are children's stories, biographies, history and geographical information.

The Chickasaw Press will be one more outlet for our citizens to experience and to enjoy.

To increase the amount of Chickasaw scholarly work, we have created the publications award program. This is a method to encourage new study, new research and new writings about areas of interest, especially when it comes to topics about the Chickasaw Nation.

Under the program we will make awards to encourage master's theses, dissertations, columns, books and stories, and these will explore the depths of our history and culture, especially in areas that are yet to be thoroughly explored.

A panel of historians and scholars will review published materials and choose the work which deserves recognition.

Our goal is to inspire the best - the best and greatest wealth of knowledge and skills, especially as it pertains to the Chickasaw people and our culture.

We've talked about the Chickasaw Cultural Center. A part of the Chickasaw Cultural Center is the Center for the Study of Chickasaw History and Culture.

And it will be the ultimate resource for everything that is Chickasaw.

The center will contain a special library, archives, important documents, papers and artifacts unique to our history.

The materials housed by the center will be important for us as a people and available for research, study and scholarly works.

This project is a massive undertaking involving not only the special design of the facility, but in gathering materials for study that date back hundreds and perhaps even thousands of years.

We anticipate the center to be used by authors, historians, genealogists, archaeologists and anyone with a special interest to learn and produce scholarly works.

As I told you earlier, with the help of the Chickasaw Tribal Legislature, we have added tribal dollars to expand current services and create new services needed by you.

Services and programs such as tribal buildings and facilities, new business opportunities, buses for our elders, law enforcement, court system and many others that we simply could not have without the success of our business enterprises.

That is just the beginning of those efforts.

To those people who live outside the Chickasaw Nation boundaries - we love you too.

This year, we plan to expand the tribe's program funding by adding $10 million specifically for the purpose of providing new or existing programs to our people who live outside of the Chickasaw Nation.

This effort will at first be concentrated in the areas of health, education and employment.

Those of our family who live outside the boundaries will be included in more of those services that the tribe provides.

We know that we can't utilize federal funding in many, many cases; therefore we will be supplementing and augmenting the programs that are available to those people that live outside the nation.

To that end, we are continually exploring new options of service, including one that could be implemented fairly soon for our elders who live outside the nation.

We will provide greater details as our work progresses.

Other areas in which services might be increased are also being investigated.

These are all part of our overall goal of making a better life for Chickasaws.

We are doing nothing more than carrying out the great traditions of our people and of our tribe.

With all of the success and progress of our tribe, we must remember that our entire future-- and that of our children-- depends on what we do, how we do it-- and why we do it.

While the state of the Chickasaw Nation has never been better than it is right now, imagine the potential we have yet to tap to make it even better! We plan to do that.

God bless the Chickasaw people and God bless the Chickasaw Nation!

Thank you very much!