2010 State of the Nation Address

“State of the Chickasaw Nation is strong” - Tribal Economy Driving Gains
Governor Bill Anoatubby
10/2/2010 3:55:44 PM

2010 State of the Nation

Good morning!

Greetings and welcome to this 50th Annual Meeting of the Chickasaw Nation. Thanks to President Noble Jobe and Mayor Lewis Parkhill. We appreciate your hospitality and the great partnerships with Murray State College and the City of Tishomingo.

You may have noticed a book in your bag today when you registered. It is a wonderful book of history and pictures from the last 50 years. We hope you enjoy this keepsake of memories, photos and short stories.

We have had quite a week! On Monday, almost 1,000 people attended the Chickasaw Cultural Evening. The event made for an enjoyable evening and the weather was great. I think everyone had a wonderful time at our new Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Congratulations and best wishes to our Chickasaw Royalty 2010-2011. On Tuesday evening during the Annual Princess Pageant Sesiley Robertson was named Miss Chickasaw; Taloa Underwood Junior Miss Chickasaw; and Maegan Carney Little Miss Chickasaw.

On Thursday night we enjoyed the annual Arts and Culture Awards. Mildred Blackmon was named Dynamic Woman of the Year, and Catherine Willmond received the Silver Feather Award. Chickasaw student Joe Thomas won the Best Unpublished Article award for his work “The Chickasaws Before Removal.” Congratulations to you all!

We extend congratulations to our newly-elected officials, tribal legislators Tim Colbert, Linda Briggs, Mary Jo Green and Beth Alexander, and tribal justice Mark Colbert.

Our governmental departments serve different functions, but we work together and share the same mission of enhancing the quality of life of Chickasaw people.

The year 2010 marks another year of accomplishment and progress. It is with great pleasure that I report to you today that the state of our nation is strong!

We are financially strong. Please take a moment to review the financial report you received in your packet today. You will notice the progress our tribe has made in its financial condition.

We have taken great efforts to ensure we are prepared to meet whatever the future may bring.

We have been successful and made significant progress in many important areas.

Each year we reach out to more and more Chickasaws. Our goal is to help you achieve your educational goals. We currently have more Chickasaws engaged in higher and technical education than ever before, and we have awarded a record number of grants and scholarship to Chickasaw students.

Financial barriers are among the most difficult problems our students must overcome. We are dedicated to financially assisting any Chickasaw who has the will and determination to pursue higher or additional education! Higher education and technical training are very important to our young people – our future leaders.

Chickasaw students from across the U.S. participate in our unique internship program and gain real-life work experience in preparation for their future careers. Locally, we have recently completed new internship housing units in Ada for our college interns serving us here. The apartments provide living space for 16 Chickasaw interns to live during their tribal internships.

We are pleased and proud to report that the Chickasaw Nation Science, Technology and Math Academy building will be complete in November. This academy will enable Chickasaw youth to explore education and career opportunities in fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Providing the proper tools for our children early in life is one key to their educational success. Our Head Start program does just that. We believe a student’s overall educational success is contingent on a quality early education. Our Head Start centers are committed to providing quality education to our three- and four-year-olds.

We are dedicated to developing creative and innovative programs to meet the educational goals of each and every Chickasaw. Lisa John leads our Division of Education.

For 2010, nearly 1,500 Chickasaw youth attended our academies, camps and clinics, and some traveled significant distances to participate.

Our baseball, basketball, football, arts and archery camps focus on improving skills and building enthusiasm – and they can also be a lot of fun! We enjoy how spirited and outgoing our students become at the camps.

Our language, culture, entrepreneurship and environmental camps provide avenues for our youth to explore while learning valuable skills and lessons.

All of our camps provide opportunities for the overall healthy development of our youth. Jay Keel leads our Division of Youth and Family Services.

Our new Family Resource Center in Norman provides cultural, language and educational elements to support Chickasaw identity and wellness. The Resource Center helps Chickasaw families heal, strengthen and sustain themselves.

As part of a partnership with the University of Oklahoma, the OU Chickasaw Nation Learning Community assists Chickasaw students as they transition from high school or community College to OU. Additionally, the Learning Community helps our Chickasaw students learn what it means to be Chickasaw.

Our elders are an incredibly important part of our tribe. We raise you up and we celebrate you!

Ladies, I hope you enjoy the special broach you received at registration this morning. The gentlemen received a bolo tie. These are our special appreciation gifts for our elders who are at least 80 years young. Those who could not attend today will receive broaches and bolos by mail.

We currently maintain 11 senior sites throughout the Chickasaw Nation. At our senior sites, our elders enjoy fellowship, activities and their independent way of life. A hot and nutritious breakfast is served five days a week.

We are committed to helping our elders improve the quality of their lives. So, creating an independent living complex is a high priority on our list of projects. As a starting point, we are building a complex of four units with two apartments per unit. Located on the Ardmore campus, the apartments are within walking distance of nutrition services, the health clinic, the wellness center, the senior site and area office.

This is the first independent living complex to be built by the Chickasaw Nation. The units are slated for completion later this fall.

Thanks goes to Karen Cook, Division on Aging administrator, and Wayne Scribner, administrator of the Division of Housing and Tribal Development for their dedication to this project.

One measure of success for our tribe is the health of our people.

Our Division of Health has come a long way over the years. We continue to provide more and more services to our people. More Chickasaws than ever before have access to state-of-the-art health care facilities, programs and services. This is something of which we all can be proud.

Offering the best possible health care to all of our people is key to our mission.

Since the Indian Health Service opened the doors of the first clinic in Tishomingo in the 1960s, we have worked to improve health care in the Chickasaw Nation. Today, the Chickasaw Nation operates health clinics in Ada, Ardmore, Tishomingo, Durant and Purcell. Medical services are provided under contract with local physicians in Duncan.

We are continually moving closer to our goal of providing quality health care within 35 miles of every Chickasaw living in the Chickasaw Nation.

We continue to strive toward better health care for our people. With that in mind, building a bigger and better medical facility for our people, for all Indian people, was a must.

So, we now have one! The Chickasaw Nation Medical Center began treating patients on July 31 of this year. This cutting edge medical center is the largest health care facility of its kind in Indian County.

To tell us more, please welcome Dr. Judy Goforth-Parker, administrator of the Division of Health.

Following are comments from Dr. Parker

Thank you, Governor. Good morning.

In less than three years, we built a fine, beautiful medical facility for our people. Great detail and consideration went into every aspect of planning and constructing this state-of-the-art facility.

From the landscaping to the MRI machine, great care was taken with each detail. The hospital is designed with a person’s physical, mental and spiritual health in mind.

The 370,000 square-foot facility was constructed so patients and visitors may enjoy large amounts of natural light.

The number of doctors and nurses providing care has dramatically increased in several areas of the hospital including family practice, dental and optometry.

Imaging services have expanded to cover an extensive range of services. New equipment includes a CT scan, an MRI and women’s imaging with digital mammography, ultrasound and bone scan. With this new equipment, we will be able to offer our patients access to enhanced technologies on our own campus for the first time.

As with any new venture, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Our move into the new medical center was no different. We have identified a few areas that need to be improved upon immediately.

One area in particular is the Emergency Department. We recognize that wait times in the emergency department are too long. We are addressing that issue and will find a solution.

We have established a multidisciplinary task force which will analyze issues we are experiencing in the ED and make recommendations to improve our patient care. We will continue until our emergency department is functioning the way it should.

We are also working to improve coordination with primary care clinics so patients can see their primary care providers more quickly. This will alleviate the number of patients coming through the ED for conditions that can be treated in one of our skilled clinics.

We have an announcement I think will please you very much. Beginning October 1, patients can call to schedule dental appointments any day of the week. No longer will there only be one day a month to call only to be met with the possibility of not getting an appointment time. When you call, you will receive an appointment time.

We will continue improving services and processes to provide the best possible patient care.

Thank you for your understanding and patience.

It has been a very exciting year for the Division of Health, and we look forward to many years like this one to come! Thank you.

Governor Anoatubby resumes his comments

Thank you, Dr. Parker.

We hope all of you had a chance to tour the medical center this week. For those of you who didn’t, a video tour will soon be available on Chickasaw.net.

As you can see, our division of health has come a long way, and we aren’t finished yet! Since the medical center is complete, we are now beginning the process of remodeling two of our satellite health clinics.

The Ardmore clinic, built in 1988, will soon be remodeled. A much nicer facility will result and will include the addition of three exam rooms.

Built in the late 1970s, the clinic here in Tishomingo will also soon be receiving a facelift.

Both the Ardmore and Tishomingo Clinics are due to be replaced with brand new facilities in the next three years incorporating much of what has been accomplished in the remodel in the new facilities. There will be more to come on that story.

Keeping the tradition of the arts alive is important to our Chickasaw spirit. Our people have always been creative and expressed their creativity in amazing ways. We are continuing this tradition within our Division of Arts and Humanities under the direction of Lona Barrick.

Lowak Shoppala’ (Fire and Light) premiered to more than 2,000 people in November 2009. The production was a collaboration among Jerod Tate, Linda Hogan and Margaret Roach Wheeler. Lowak Shoppala’ was a marvelous showcase of Chickasaw culture, heritage and spirit.

Thanks to the creators, the cast and crew for your brilliant work!

Another impressive project was the Oshtali CD. Chickasaw student composers from the Chickasaw Nation Summer Arts Academy were recently featured on the CD.

Recognized as the first album in history with works by American Indian student-composers, Oshtali is a 16-song collection showcasing contemporary classical music.

It is vital to our progress that we continue to create new works, new mediums to carry our culture into the next generation.

The Chickasaw Press has recently released new titles that will be available in the Capitol building today.

The book Chickasaw Renaissance was released this past April. This book is a follow-up to the award-winning Chickasaw: Unconquered and Unconquerable.

Chickasaw Renaissance is the first published book-length history of the cultural and political resurgence of the Chickasaw Nation in the 20th century.

Two other titles are Chickasaw Lives: Volume Three, authored by Richard Green, and Proud to Be Chickasaw, authored by Mike and Martha Larsen and Ms. Jeannie Barbour. These books are an excellent way for our tribe to share our story with the world.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center opened this summer in Sulphur. This is such an amazing milestone for our tribe! A long-held dream, the Cultural Center is now a reality.

At this time, Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham, our Division of History and Culture administrator, will come to the stage to tell you more about the Cultural Center.

Comments from Dr. Cobb-Greetham

Thank you, Governor.

As Governor said, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has been a dream of Chickasaw people for many, many years. Nestled on 109 acres of gently rolling hills, woodlands and trees, the center features more than 96,000 square feet of indoor space.

Much more than a museum, the cultural center is literally a center of living culture. It provides a place to embrace and learn about our vital thriving culture.

The Chikasha Poya (We are Chickasaw) Exhibit Center is a state-of-the-art, interactive exhibit gallery that chronicles the story of our people.

The Kochcha’ Aabiniili’ Amphitheater provides a place to experience our heritage through live demonstrations of traditional stomp dance, storytelling, and music.

The Chikasha Inchokka’ Traditional Village is a representation of an 18th century Mississippian Chickasaw village. The village includes a council house, two summer houses, two winter houses, a corn crib, minko mound and a stockade fence. In the village, you can participate in many activities including stickball, traditional cooking demonstrations, and classes in cultural arts and crafts.

The Anoli’ Theater features a large-format, four-story screen. The cutting-edge theater showcases films made by Chickasaws and about Chickasaws.

The recently completed Holisso Research Center will house extensive genealogical and archaeological collections, as well as photo archives, letters and historic papers. It provides a place to study the history of our tribe as well as many other Southeastern tribes.

With so much to offer, there is something here for everyone to come enjoy and learn. Since the Cultural Center opened this summer, over 14,000 people have enjoyed the campus.

Thank you.

Governor Anoatubby resumes his comments

Thank you, Amanda. The Cultural Center is the treasure of our nation and will be for years to come.

The Chickasaw Honor Garden is an important aspect of the Cultural Center. Located on the center’s grounds, it allows us the opportunity to have a physical place to honor all Chickasaw Nation Hall of Fame inductees. A granite marker depicting each inductee hangs in the Honor Garden.

Designed to be a place of reverence, reflection and inspiration, the Honor Garden allows us to commemorate the lives of these and other great Chickasaws for years to come.

This month we will break ground on the new Artesian Hotel in Sulphur. The Artesian is designed to complement the Cultural Center.

The hotel will have approximately 80 rooms, banquet and conference accommodations, a restaurant, spa and an indoor/outdoor swimming pool. It will draw tourists to the area, and to the Cultural Center.

This is additional economic development in this area and will create jobs, sustain current businesses and improve tourism in the overall area. The hotel is slated to open in 2013.

The new judicial and legislative buildings opened this year. The new facilities make the services of these important departments much more accessible to our citizens.

Along with the executive department, these departments of your Chickasaw government are the legs upon which our government stands. Providing them a proper place to operate gives further sustainability and sophistication.

Our Division of Housing and Tribal Development is always busy - busy providing quality, affordable housing.

Twenty-seven families moved into homes this year through the Home Owners Program and there are currently 30 new homes in the planning or construction stage.

Protecting our planet and caring about our environment is important to the future of our children and our tribe.

This year the tribe opened our first Re-Use Center. The ReUse Center is a place to donate used items you no longer need and pick up things you might want, all at no cost.

The ReUse Center is open to the public and is one more way the Chickasaw Nation is helping reduce waste, and encourage reuse and recycling.

It is incumbent on us to protect our environment. Our goal is to minimize the impact we have on the natural resources over which we serve as stewards.

We are proud to announce that the Chickasaw Nation opened its first Compressed Natural Gas Fueling Station this year. CNG fuel not only lowers fuel cost and maintenance, it is better for the environment, boosts Oklahoma’s economy and moves the U.S. closer to energy independence.

This is the first tribally-owned CNG fueling station in Oklahoma.

In addition to being more environmentally friendly, natural gas is also a viable business and a growing sector of the economy. Because of its abundance and the need for national energy independence, we expect profitable returns in this market.

Our Division of Commerce, under the direction of Bill Lance, has seen many of its businesses improved and expanded this year.

In an economic climate that has not been conducive to much business growth, our tribe is doing very, very well. We monitor opportunities to diversify our business endeavors and are diligent in our fiscal management. Our goal is to drive continued prosperity.

So, despite a challenging economic environment, the Chickasaw Nation business enterprises continued to perform well by aggressively controlling costs and implementing creative new strategies to gain market share.

WinStar World Casino had some very visible improvements completed over the year. The expansion that began in 2009 was completed, and WinStar is now, truly, a world-class destination!

Our commercial radio stations, South Central Oklahoma Radio Enterprises, have experienced a successful year. SCORE consists of five local radio stations. These stations serve 12 counties and an estimated audience of 75,000 people.

Solara Healthcare continues to grow and prosper. It exceeded its net income for all of 2009 during the first half of 2010.

Due to the changing nature of the health care industry, the company recently sold its seven Long Term Acute Care Hospitals. This resulted in a substantial return on the Chickasaw Nation’s investment.

Solara will continue to operate primarily in the health care field but shifting its focus to Ambulatory Surgical Centers. These are health care facilities that offer patients selected surgical and procedural services performed outside the hospital setting.

In January of 2010, Global Gaming Solutions completed its acquisition of Remington Park in Oklahoma City. Since that time, substantial improvements have been made to the facility and its entertainment offerings. This has resulted in unmatched financial performance in virtually every aspect of the business.

The purchase of Remington Park’s sister facility, Lone Star Park located in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metro area, is expected to close in mid-October.

Global Gaming plans to improve the performance of Lone Star Park by leveraging existing resources and expertise.

Continuing efforts to diversify our business holdings, another promising healthcare-related business was established this past year - Sovereign Medical Solutions.

In August, the company won its first contract. It will provide an emergency department dashboard application compatible with the federal government’s standard medical software.

While virtually all banks have been impacted to some extent by the financial crisis that began in 2008, the fourth quarter of 2009 marked the best year ever for our own Bank2. Bank2 has outperformed its peers on average in both return on assets and return on equity.

Ladies and gentlemen, the future of Chickasaw Nation business enterprises looks very bright! It is because of our businesses that we are able to offer many wonderful programs and services to our people.

Through good stewardship, diligence, sound fiscal management and frugal spending, the Chickasaw Nation’s financial outlook is also bright.

We have exercised caution in our spending during these tight economic times, while still doing the business that we are here to do - serve you. Not a single tribal service was cut back nor did a single tribal employee lose his or her job because of the recession.

Tribal assets have continued to grow. This provides us with a firm foundation on which we can rely and upon which we can and will continue to build for the future.

Communicating with every Chickasaw, reaching you no matter where you live, is a job we take very seriously.

Under the leadership of Robyn Elliott, the mission of our Division of Communications, Media and Community Development is to establish the very best communication possible with you, our people. We continue to embrace new technologies and develop new material to provide meaningful information for you.

Many of you are listening to this address through KCNP, our community radio station, over the airways and through live streaming over the internet. Soon, KCNP will premiere its first call-in show.

Communication is a two-way street. It is important that we hear directly from you and that you have a chance to ask us questions and get answers. The new call-in show will provide you an opportunity to talk to a variety of experts in health, housing, finance, arts, education, and topics you tell us are important to you.

Today, online technology allows us to reach beyond the borders of the Chickasaw Nation. We can now speak to citizens wherever you live. We can educate and inform through videos. We can introduce the world to our strengths, our enduring culture and the progress of the Chickasaw Nation.

Mark the date January 1, 2011, the first day of the New Year. On that day, we will launch a truly remarkable new communications tool for the Chickasaw Nation - an online network of high-definition video channels.

Chickasaw.tv will be a video network that will complement our current Chickasaw.net website and our other online sites. You will find individual channels devoted to Arts and Humanities, History and Culture, current events and tribal news. A government channel will organize videos about our programs, services and commerce, all at your fingertips.

Three other channels will focus on DestiNATIONS within the Nation, the wise use of our natural resources and the rich stories of our people.

This network will be a first of its kind for any tribal Nation. It will set a new communications standard, linking this generation to the next and the next, well into our future, at Chickasaw.tv.

For a sneak preview or what is to come, please turn your attention to the screens.

Let’s recognize our wonderful multimedia department. Ladies and gentlemen, this technology opens many new possibilities. We are only limited by our imagination!

The movie “Pearl” is wrapping up its multi-city tour and is headed to DVD production. A full-length feature film, “Pearl” won several awards this past year including the endorsement of the Dove Family Foundation.

The movie is the true story of one of our most accomplished Chickasaws, Pearl Carter Scott, who became the youngest pilot in America in 1928.

“Pearl,” the DVD, will be available for purchase in time for the Christmas season. Please look for it in mid-November.

Enclosed in your bag today, is the music video “Just One Dream” which was especially recorded for the movie.

“Pearl” is only one of the many stories we have to tell. We treasure stories that one day we hope to share using our own words, our own voice. The story of Te Ata, our Removal from our homelands, our first encounter with De Soto and the story of the Unconquered and Unconquerable Chickasaw Nation are just a few subjects that have been discussed.

As you have heard this morning, our tribe is very busy.

Lt. Governor Keel and I are blessed with the support of great talent.

You have heard about the accomplishments of many of our divisions.

Two other people who work every day in service to the Chickasaw people are Leta Burwell, administrator over social services, and Pat Woods who oversees program services.
We have many others who work in the background to help support the mission of serving our people, our unsung heroes, as it were.

You are not used to hearing about some of those people like Jalinda Kelley, who heads up the Division of Administrative Services. Or Kirk Perry, who very capably oversees our policies and standards office.

Jenny Trett and her staff keep our finances in order, and Tom John is over self-governance.

We rely on Deanna Hartley-Kelso and her staff to help us navigate the complicated realm of American Indian law.

It takes a well-rounded organization and a talented staff to be a success. We have both, plus we have a plan in place and are busy working to improve our future and the future of our children, our children’s children, and so on. This is not some distant plan. It is the continual work of our people throughout each day.

Progress doesn’t happen by chance. It happens because people set their minds to it. They work hard and they persevere. That is what is happening in the Chickasaw Nation.

We are committed to continuing our mission into the next 50 years. We are committed to not only to fulfilling our mission, but to exceeding its original intentions.

Let’s think about the next 50 years. Let’s picture in our minds every Chickasaw, who desires and is willing to work, is employed.

Let’s envision every Chickasaw child receiving a quality education and striving toward a dream of his or her making.

Picture every elder well cared for, living a quality, independent life!

Let’s imagine every Chickasaw family in a warm, safe home.

This is not a dream. This can be our future!

All of these things can be a reality, and will be a reality, if we keep pushing forward.

If we maintain our commitment to our people, if we persevere, just as our ancestors did, just as we always have, then this will be our future!

Fellow Chickasaws, it is my honor to report to you that the state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong! We are a healthy, vibrant, growing nation.

Ladies and gentlemen, my team and I aren’t coasting and aren’t planning for retirement. Rest assured, we are planning to continue working hard for you each and every day.

Thank you for the honor and privilege you have granted me by allowing me to serve as your governor.

I look forward to the opportunity to continue being of service to you, the Great Unconquered and Unconquerable Chickasaw Nation!

Enjoy your day!