2012 State of the Nation Address

Spirit of a Nation
Governor Bill Anoatubby
10/6/2012 9:30:12 AM

2012 State of the Nation

Thank you, and thank you Lisa. You know, earlier she introduced folks. She introduced elected officials.

She is also someone who should be introduced and I’d like for Lisa Johnson Billy to be recognized: former tribal legislator and now state legislator. Congratulations, Lisa.

Well, we’ve had a great morning haven’t we? It’s just been great. And we’ve had a great week.

And many of you likely participated in some of the activities that we had throughout the week, and it’s always nice to be together.

We share with each other. We share the great spirit that we have in being Chickasaw.

It’s good to have the folks in the tent, right? Let’s give them a round of applause.

We’re pleased that everybody’s here and everybody in the tent, and it was already mentioned earlier that we have folks listening on KCNP radio, and that’s being streamed live on the internet, as well as the video and audio on the Chickasaw.net.

And we’re also so pleased to have all of these dignitaries that have come here. I mean, it’s just really special and Chickasaw dignitaries largely. We have two congressmen. We have, of course, Congressman Dan Boren, who we work with very closely and probably before too long a lot more closely, right Congressman?

And you know Tom Cole, I know Congressman Boren, you’ll agree he is one special guy. He represents his district in a superior fashion and he looks out for the interest of the Indian people across this country.

Let’s give him a round of applause. He looks out for the interest of the Chickasaw people and he does that in a very fine fashion.

We’re grateful for all the other elected officials that are here. The senators and the house members, and we thank you for coming and in addition we have to point out our special State Representative here that all the sudden has this new title, Speaker Designate, and his wife Devon— T.W. Shannon.

I thought they had an age minimum on who could be the speaker of the house. Well, we’re thankful for all of you, and thankful for all the other folks.

You know Admiral Meeks was introduced earlier, and Lisa didn’t mention, but he’s Chickasaw too. Admiral Meeks, we are thankful for you being here and representing Indian Health Service, and we are thankful for the other folks that represent the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Karen Ketcher and Traile Glory. Thank you for coming.

And Dr. Larry Minks. Let’s recognize President Minks.

We have just a great relationship with the Chickasaw Legislature and the Chickasaw Judicial Department. I offer my congratulations to those folks who were reelected in the newly elected legislature, and to the entire legislature, and to the entire judicial department.

Well, we have this wonderful relationship that has jelled; it’s brought us to where we are. Lieutenant Governor mentioned cooperation.

Cooperation isn’t going along with everything that somebody wants to do. It’s working together on common goals and achieving those goals. We have the benefit of people who are willing to work together and make things happen. Let’s give our legislature and judicial a nice round of applause.

We appreciate what the City of Tishomingo and Murray State College have done to help make this event a success. But, beyond that, the great working relationship we have with both.

President McDaniel, we thank you for your leadership and also Mayor Lewis Parkhill. Thank them once again for their work.

We had a big change in weather didn’t we? I mean we went from 105 degrees to what is it today, in the forties? Wow, that was quite a change. Of course we plan this event to go on. Of course there are things that occur that maybe make things change a little bit.

You know, this actually started last Saturday and we had a golf tournament and I’ve never seen anything like it. Golfers will golf regardless. I mean it was raining and I think they finished their tournament, but the other folks they use a little different approach to things.

The softball tournament was postponed—that we had scheduled.

We had the Junior Olympics, and they moved from outside to inside I know they had a great time. I went by there, and Lieutenant Governor and I both were there and saw all these young people who were having a great time, just anxious to compete in all these different events.

The Senior Olympics, they postponed theirs from Saturday until Tuesday, and Tuesday they had a great time. It was a great day, the sun was shining and the grass was greener I think that day than it was the week before. So they had a great time.

The Cornstalk Shoot that was scheduled, they made an attempt to get started, they had the young people go out and they did their shoot and then they started the adult shoot and those people couldn’t hack it, the rain was coming down.

No, I’m teasing. The young people hung in there.

This is an event that is reminiscent of the culture and the tradition that we have as Chickasaws, and it’s all done with traditional bows, and so they already have an event scheduled later this month so they are going to go ahead and go with that so they did cancel their meet.

And, of course, we mentioned the elected officials. You saw the Oath of Office here on the stage but they had the “official” Oath of Office on Monday, and we had all the elected officials that were elected or reelected take their Oath and that was a nice event as well.

Congratulations again to all who were present and who participated and took their Oath.

Then Monday evening, we had the Princess Pageant that took place and I’d like for all the princesses to stand again, and let’s shine the light on these folks.

Again, Autumn Underwood, Chelsea Wedlow, who this is her second level—she was Little Miss Chickasaw at one time—and now we have Payton Robertson who is now Little Miss Chickasaw.

Then, Thursday evening was special. We had another special evening at the Cultural Center, and of course we had the regular events that took place; the meal and the cultural events that were there and the booths and all.

The weather was better, it cooperated and that was really good. We had a couple special things that occurred there, maybe three.

We had the Arts and Culture Awards that took place in the evening. Then, Bob Blackburn came from the Oklahoma Historical Society and brought with him a Chickasaw artifact and placed it in our possession. It’s a flag, an American flag that was given to Levi Colbert in the 1800s, the 1820s I believe.

Of course, it’s tattered and it’s old but it is certainly an artifact of our history and our relationship that we’ve had with the U.S. government and with the leaders of the U.S. government.

At the same event, I’m going to hold back on one of them that took place and tell you about that a little bit later, but we had the announcement of the Dynamic Woman of the Year, Mrs. Ellen Brooker.

She received that award and gave a wonderful talk and then the Silver Feather Award was given to Emma McLeod, who is a speaker and participates in our language revitalization program.

So let’s congratulate them for receiving those awards.

And then, you heard about the Southeastern Art Show and Market, we call it SEASAM.

And the winners of SEASAM were given their awards at the Cultural Evening as well.

We really appreciate all the people who contribute to the culture and they give their time, they give their talents to help the Chickasaw Nation maintain and hold on to our culture and our heritage and our history. We really appreciate that.

A little bit earlier in the program, when introductions were being made and Shirley Stark was introduced, it was noted that her son, who is Chickasaw, was recently nominated and has been confirmed to serve as the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs for the Department of the Interior of the United States of America.

We are so proud of Kevin and his accomplishments. He was confirmed on the 21st of September and he will assume his position very soon.

You know, his education and experience, they make him uniquely qualified to lead the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He’s the second Chickasaw to hold this position and then when McCaleb led the BIA from July 2001 to November 2002.

Is Neal in the audience by the way? Well, we appreciate Neal as well because he came home and he continued to serve the Chickasaw Nation and he’s helped us with economic development, roads programs and so forth and we appreciate him.

The Chickasaw Nation has been blessed with another successful year.

The tribe’s achievements have enabled us to offer new opportunities. Our future is exciting. The state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong and thriving!

We have a great team; and our team continues to work hard to be good stewards of all of our resources, to be creative and innovative and to use sound judgment and wisdom when making decisions for this great nation.

We see growth and achievement on all fronts. Our businesses have continued to prosper. Employment opportunities continue to grow.

Most importantly, this prosperity that we have has directly contributed to our ability to create and enhance nearly 200 programs and services that directly benefit you, the Chickasaw people.

This helps us meet our mission.

Tribal businesses enable us to meet our mission by providing employment opportunities and funding for our many programs and services. Because of our businesses and our business income, we’ve not needed to draw on our trust account for many, many years.

That account, which is held by the United States of America, has grown from about $500,000 in 1987 to more than $19 million today.

That growth and the growth of all the Chickasaw Nation assets, along with a lot of other valuable information, is included in the audited 2011 Annual Financial Report that you were provided when you came to this meeting. In addition, you will find the August 31, 2012 unaudited balance sheet.

We give that to you as an update from the audited and it’s a little ahead of the audit. The audit will be conducted at the end of September.

We are thankful for the sound fiscal management that we have in our leadership team. We are thankful for the creative thinking that we have within our team.

We are thankful for the diversification efforts and a strong team of employees and we’ve seen tremendous economic growth.

The Chickasaw Nation’s businesses have continuously performed well, and to share that progress and share a report with you this morning, I have asked Mr. Bill Lance, who is the administrator for the division of commerce, to come and provide a report. Bill…

Following are comments from Bill Lance

Governor, I am pleased to report that the division of commerce has had another phenomenal year. In March, we recorded our highest ever monthly net income.

Thanks to a focused effort to minimize expenses and maximize revenues, we have continued to see greater returns.

We have several capital projects underway.

We began a construction on an 18-story hotel at WinStar. The hotel will have 500 guest rooms and add 150 new jobs to the Thackerville area.

Bedre Fine Chocolates continues to improve and add new product lines and new customers.

Last year, we established a new economic enterprise called Chickasaw Telecom. Chickasaw Nation Telecom enables us to lower the cost of telecommunications for our businesses and government operations. In just one year, we reduced our overall telecommunications expenditures by 10 percent.

Chickasaw Nation Industries continues to add value to the tribe’s business portfolio. CNI and its subsidiaries have more than 1,500 employees and is the largest tribally owned federal contractor in the lower 48 states.

Governor, our businesses are continuing to perform well above estimated projections. We expect continued growth well into the future.

Governor Bill Anoatubby

Thank you, Bill.

Business diversification is a vital component of our long-term economic development strategy.

While it is important to reinvest in our established business operations to maximize their growth, it’s also essential to carefully build a diverse business portfolio.

Currently, our businesses include entertainment, tourism, manufacturing, medical technology, medical services, government contracting, banking and communications, as well as others.

You know, it’s very difficult, you know it’s vital that you have a good group of employees that have a talent that they can share and that they have a good hardworking attitude; and we have that group at the Chickasaw Nation.

They have become the backbone of the operation. They have become part of the Chickasaw family. Now we want to serve these people as well.

A promising business that just completed its second year of operation is Sovereign Medical Solutions.

Sovereign Medical Solutions provides family practice clinics and pharmacy for tribal employees, and recently made the services available to the general public.

It’s a unique concept. With this new business, we are able to recycle funds that were previously paid to outside providers and at the same time, provide quality health care to Chickasaw Nation employees and their families.

Now, how it works is we have a fringe benefit program, an insurance program and that helps employee’s pay for their healthcare costs. Well, what we have been able to do again is recycle that.

What happens is, the services are provided and the payment is made either by employee or the patient, or the patient’s insurance company. In this case, the insurance company is the one who provides, we provide the benefits for them. So, those dollars are coming back.

Now, also to help increase revenues, we opened it to the general public so we are moving into the healthcare area away from what we provide to Chickasaws and other Native Americans.

We are taking the expertise that was developed within our health care operations, that we have through our medical system, and transferring that expertise into a business.

We have dual goals at the Sovereign Clinic. We want to provide good health care and at the same time produce revenue.

By recycling the existing funds and creating new revenue, we are able to provide needed quality health care services and at the same time create new jobs.

Currently, we have one location in Ada but we have plans to expand into the Norman area.

Sovereign Medical Solutions is a part of the commerce division and its subsidiaries are working to broaden the scope of health-related business services.

A very important industry in our economy is tourism. On March 1st, the Chickasaw Nation launched a new tourism brand for south-central Oklahoma.

To align tourism branding efforts, we entered into an agreement with Arbuckle Country Marketing Association to officially change the region’s brand from Arbuckle Country to Chickasaw Country.

After all, it has been Chickasaw Country all along, right? Our Chickasaw Country efforts promote tourism in the 13 counties of the Chickasaw Nation, as well as tourism across the entire state.

Last October, we broke ground on a welcome center at the Davis exit on Interstate 35. This welcome center will serve as a gateway to Chickasaw Country and a stop for motorists who travel the interstate on daily basis.

The center is scheduled to be completed later this year.

Adjacent to the welcome center, construction is underway on the new Bedre Fine Chocolates Factory. This is an interactive situation where our visitors’ who come to this area, it will allow guests to view the process as well as experience chocolate making firsthand.

Many of you may have gone to chocolate factories that were in another part of the country and you were able to go to that factory and watch the chocolate being made. Of course, when you are leaving they have a little store; you know where you need to purchase some.

We will have the same situation. This new feature will allow us to attract more visitors and create a destination for tourists traveling Interstate 35.

Construction on the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur, it’s another very exciting project, is on schedule for a spring 2013 opening.

In July, we broke ground on a new Chickasaw Visitors Center in Sulphur, located between the Artesian Hotel and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. The center will feature an art gallery, a gift shop, a video room, a bike sharing system.

Back in my day, we called that a bike rental system, but it’s a bike sharing system.

We are planning to open the visitor’s center next summer.

The addition of these facilities will help develop a tourism corridor from Interstate 35 along highway 7 from Davis into Sulphur, and our plan is to move from also toward Ada and toward Tishomingo as well.

We are working our way toward, and to, the Johnston County area and will be further developing opportunities right here and around our historic capital.

Since opening in 2010, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has served more than 130,000 visitors. The Cultural Center has attracted visitors from all over the world.

It provides us the ability to learn more about ourselves and our nation but also to share who we are; to share the rich, vibrant heritage of the Chickasaw people and our great nation. We will be adding new exhibits, new activities and new programming in the coming months.

That’s the nature of these kinds of facilities. You need to constantly update them. The cultural center, like the Chickasaw Nation, is an ever-evolving and ever-changing place.

We appreciate Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham. Amanda, are you in the audience today? And the excellent service that she has given to the Chickasaw Nation. Thanks to her for overseeing the cultural center from the ground up to where it is today.

Amanda has decided to continue her career in academia. She is now teaching students at OSU.

But we couldn’t let go of her, we wanted her to maintain this working relationship with the Chickasaw Nation and, while she left as the administrator of history and culture, we have been able to retain her to oversee our cultural exhibits and she will still continue to be editor of the Chickasaw Press.

We appreciate the partnership we have with Amanda and we now look forward to Lisa John overseeing the history and culture division.

Lisa was previously in the division of education. She left that in good hands, but she brings her expertise to the history and culture division.

I want to thank Amanda and Lisa for your work. Thank you.

The Holisso Research Center continues to acquire documents and artifacts that are intended to teach us about our past. To date, the Holisso Center has obtained more than 18,000 documents and artifacts that are available for research and scholarly study, and most importantly, preservation.

The Chickasaw Press is working diligently to capture our history and culture in print.

This week, the Chickasaw Press launched three new titles. A Chickasaw Prayer Book, now this is a very interesting, very innovative and cultural printing. You’ll find very few English words in that book. It’s in Chickasaw and we thank our Chickasaw Language Committee for working with the Chickasaw Press to produce this wonderful, wonderful book.

Also, let’s give the language committee a round of applause. If there are members of the language committee here in the building today please stand and be recognized.

Also, Chickasaw Lives, Volume Four, you may have picked up the other three copies of the Chickasaw Lives. This is a continuation in that series. It’s called Tribal Mosaic and it’s available also by Richard Green.

Chikasha Stories is a Volume Two and it’s called Shared Voices. Glenda Galvan and Jeannie Barbour did that work.

We appreciate all of it, all the work that they’ve done and be sure to pick one up and check them out. As always, they are very valuable works of literary art.

Our language is a key component of our culture and our shared heritage. We continue to enhance our language programs in order to guard our language and also encourage it to thrive.

This year, we had 24 participants in our master apprentice language program. Now, this program pairs fluent speakers with those who are working to become fluent. Participants spend time together every week working to master the language.

Our Children’s Language Club had 200 participants and they attended sessions monthly. Some of these students competed in the annual Native American Youth Language Fair in Norman.

Our sixth through eighth grade students finished with a first and a second place in spoken language and song. Let’s give them congratulations. And, this is not the first year that they’ve done that.

This has been something they’ve done several years running.

Sixty-five parents and children took part in two family language immersion camps – the camps are designed to teach the language as well as give families the tools to continue using the language at home.

Great efforts are being made to preserve our language.

We work hard to ensure that Chickasaws have every opportunity to obtain a quality education. You’ve seen some of the examples in the videos that were presented earlier today. Whether you are eight or 80, if you want to learn, we can help you find a way.

Our four Head Start programs graduated more than 150 students this last year.

The Chickasaw Nation Reading program has distributed more than 10,000 books to children ages five and under.

Last year, through the Chickasaw Honor Club we issued more than 7,500 awards that encourage perfect attendance and good grades.

The child care development program continues to experience great success. Currently, we are licensed to serve 242 children at the facility in Ada. School-aged children at the Ada center will soon have a new playground to enjoy.

You might say why is the governor talking about a playground? Well, it’s special, it’s a natural playground constructed to provide an innovative place for children to discover new ideas with the world around them.

The playground uses natural elements such as sand, water, wood and living plants and includes slides and a tree house. The natural playground allows for adventure and to help build a child's imagination and critical thinking skills.

We are pleased to announce next year we will begin the process of establishing a child development center in Ardmore.

It’s something that we need to expand upon, and we have a wonderful child development center in Ada and we need to improve and go to other places.

These facilities serve as a learning environment for young Chickasaws, where they are taught Chickasaw language, the importance of good nutrition and being active and much more. And, add to it imagination and discovery.

It’s important that our folks feel good about themselves. One’s self-worth is very important. Dressing for success is important.

More than 11,000 Chickasaw students ages 3 to 18 were awarded clothing grants last year. Likewise, students pursuing a higher education were awarded more than 21,000 grants, scholarships and incentives - totaling nearly $16 million.

Our adult learning program provided GED instruction to nearly 200 adults so they could complete their high school education.

Access to quality education is one of the foundations of a successful future.

Employment opportunities are essential to a successful future, for the individual, as well as the Chickasaw Nation.

Our Career Development Initiative is one way we are working to offer increased employment opportunities. CDI, as we call it, is designed for Chickasaws who have barriers to employment.

CDI provides on-the-job training while helping participants enhance their hiring potential. Since 2009, 36 people have received their GED, 53 have received a driver’s license and 147 have been provided or promoted to full-time positions.

Another employment opportunity we celebrate is school-to-work.

School-to-work allows individuals to actively pursue a vocational or college degree while earning full-time pay and benefits while on the job and working. Through school-to-work, 90 Chickasaws have graduated from college or vocational school.

The summer youth employment initiative provides on-the-job training for junior high and high school students. It allows the students to function in a real workplace where they can learn the skills and attitudes needed to succeed. This last summer, nearly 700 youth were employed.

In addition to providing employment opportunities, a few years ago, the Chickasaw Nation began the road-to-work service. This service provides transportation to and from places of employment in Sulphur and here in Tishomingo. To date, about 300 Chickasaws have utilized this service.

We have creative ways to share our story. Chickasaws have always had a spirit of creativity. Historically, you can see it in our artwork, our clothing, and in our tools and domestic materials.

We strive to be creative and innovative in all that we do – from teaching methods to business endeavors to communications. Creativity is more than the arts. Creativity also includes critical thinking, planning, and seeking innovative and creative solutions to meet the needs of our citizens.

Spurring that spirit of creativity is vital to continued success. Now, in the arts through projects such as the Te Ata play and many others, our arts and humanities division works to ignite creativity.

Here to share with us about some of the incredible achievements Chickasaw artists have made this year is Arts and Humanities Division Administrator Lona Barrick. Lona…

Following are comments from Lona Barrick

Thank you, Governor.

It has been another busy and very successful year for our arts and humanities division and the artists with whom we are very privileged to work.

Just a few months ago, we finished the Te Ata play national tour.

The Chickasaw Nation collaborated with renowned Chickasaw playwright JudyLee Oliva to bring her two-act play to the stage. Performances took place at Oklahoma City University in June then traveled to Washington D.C. in July.

The play was a wonderful opportunity to share the life story of Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata Thompson Fisher.

Thanks to a successful inaugural year, the Chickasaw School of Guitar added a second class to meet the needs of our growing student base.

Two students from the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy textile arts class, Ryanne Jordon and Michaela Milligan, were selected to attend the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

Four students who participated in the Chickasaw Young Artist Studio were honored for their work this year, as well. In March, Mesheli Billy, Sarah Reynolds, Samantha Reynolds and Ryan Rico were chosen to have their art displayed in New York City’s Big Screen Plaza during the National Arts Education conference. The works of these young artists were selected by ArtSonia Company out of thousands of submissions.

Chickasaw artist Dustin Mater received a unique honor for his artwork this year. Dustin’s work, entitled Spring, was selected by Pendleton Woolen Mills to become part of its legendary blanket series. The first southeastern artist selected for this honor.

The works of these individuals is testament to the power of the arts in a person’s life.

The Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy completed its eighth year. This year, we served 148 students ages eight to 19 in all arts disciplines.

Governor, I am happy to report that the future of the arts and humanities in the Chickasaw Nation is bright and beautiful.

Thank you.

Governor Bill Anoatubby

Thanks, Lona.

We have some amazing Chickasaw artists.

Thursday evening, we unveiled “The Arrival”, and that was done by Chickasaw master artist Mike Larsen.

It was more than a year in the making; this monumental sculpture depicts a Chickasaw family, representing three generations, who have just arrived from the homelands into Indian Territory.

“The Arrival” is in place at the Chickasaw Cultural Center. Please go view it. It’s a wonderful work of art.

Safe and quality housing is vital to our quality of life. That is why homeownership opportunities have continued to receive a high priority.

Since inception of our home loan program, more than 1,000 families have been assisted with a variety of home loans totaling nearly $105 million. In addition, we have distributed nearly $4.4 million in down payment and closing cost assistance.

You know, I want to stop here a second and tell you how committed these people are too.

Our delinquency rate is very, very low. In fact, when the housing crisis hit in 2008/2009, our delinquency rate did not go up like all across the country. It’s maintained.

Our people are committed not only to homeownership but to paying their bills and we are thankful for that.

We are committed to helping Chickasaw families who seek home ownership. We believe in helping our families keep their home safe and well maintained.

The tribal business revenues have enabled us to create new programs that assist with storm shelters, driveway repairs, home repair and landscaping.

In the short amount of time since these programs began, we have completed more than 2,800 storm shelter installations.

Now, you know how important that is in tornado alley.

We did 260 driveway repairs, 875 home repair grants and 680 landscaping packages.

Quality, affordable housing is essential to one’s quality of life. Housing will continue to be a priority for us in the coming years.

Well, we recognized our elders earlier and, you know, they hold a special place in our hearts and in our families and our lives. We continue to raise you up. We support you as you have supported and encouraged and guided us.

Your spirit of determination, creativity and community has helped build the Chickasaw Nation as we know it today. So, we honor you.

This year, we completed several projects to enhance the senior citizen programs that we operate.

In January, we cut a ribbon at the new Panola Senior Center. This new facility, located in Colbert, provides a great place for our elders to gather, exercise, share a meal and enjoy activities.

We also cut the ribbon for two new senior centers that replaced older, outdated facilities.

In June, the new Connerville Senior site was opened and the new Ardmore Senior Center opened in July. We now have senior centers in 12 communities across the Chickasaw Nation.

At these centers, nearly 150,000 meals were served this last year. Health screenings, wellness classes and social activities are also available.

In addition to these new and expanded facilities, several seniors are also enjoying their new home in the Chickasaw Elder Independent Living Apartments.

The apartments are on the campus at Ardmore and within walking distance of the health clinic, the senior center, and the nutrition and wellness centers.

This was the first project of its kind in the Chickasaw Nation. Our goals for the apartments have been far exceeded. The families have developed a strong bond. They assist each other with errands, picking up mail, doing yard work and more.

More independent living units are being planned for the Ardmore campus and in other locations as well.

It’s important to feel well. It’s essential to living a full and fruitful life.

With this in mind, more than 12,000 individual items were dispensed to Chickasaw elders through the over-the-counter medication program. This program provides specific over-the-counter medication at no cost to the Chickasaw elder, regardless of where you live in the United States.

Health care continues to be a priority. The Chickasaw Nation Division of Health continues to achieve incredible results.

To share a few highlights this year, we had more than 500,000 patient visits to the health system.

If you’ll remember only a couple of years ago, we were talking about 360,000 visits. So, you can see the increase in visits to the health system.

The pharmacy filled more than 1.1 million prescriptions. More than 345,000 of those prescriptions were through our mail order system serving Chickasaws all across the United States.

The wellness centers also had a good year. One-hundred and forty-thousand participant visits.

More than 14,000 immunizations were given to children.

We had a 46 percent increase in the number of patients seen in the dental clinic. We had more than a 79 percent increase in optometry visits. That’s quite an increase.

What it shows is health care is available and health care is being utilized. People care about their health and we as a nation are able to help provide it.

A few years ago a gentlemen asked me, “Governor, do you think there is something we could do to serve the non-Indian spouses of Chickasaws?”

He said, “I have this idea if you would provide medication to the spouses and the spouses have insurance, then the program virtually pays for itself. Of course, there’s a benefit because the individual doesn’t have to make a co-pay.”

There’s no percentage that the individual has to pay, so we took that idea and today our mail order pharmacy services is gearing up to serve non-native spouses of Chickasaws.

So, we do listen and we try to do what it is you’d like for us to do.

This service surely benefits the entire family. So, thank you for that great idea.

In July, we opened up a new 66,000 square-foot health clinic in Ardmore. New services, such as digital imaging, were added to primary care services, along with physical therapy and a drive thru pharmacy.

The number of staff has increased from 25 to 72, but will grow to 100 when all these new positions are filled.

We immediately began a remodel of the clinic space that already existed in Ardmore. Once the remodel is complete, the entire clinic will be 77,000 square feet.

We also have a new health clinic under construction right here in Tishomingo. You know, I can remember the day when there wasn’t a clinic in Tishomingo.

We thank Indian Health Service for their vision in bringing a clinic here and for the leadership we had to make it happen.

The current clinic, which is 15,000 square feet, will expand to more than 53,000.

This additional space will allow for increased services, more patients and improved quality of care. The new facility, scheduled to be complete next year, will create an additional 80 jobs and we’re thankful for the partnership that we have with Indian Health Service.

They provide a large amount of the funding to staff these facilities.

The Ardmore Clinic and the Tishomingo Clinic were constructed under what is known as a Joint Venture Program, and through an agreement that we have through Indian Health Service, the Chickasaw Nation was able to utilize the revenues that it has from its businesses to actually construct the buildings and purchase equipment and Indian Health Service has assisted us with the staffing of these facilities.

So, we appreciate Indian Health Service.

In July, we broke ground on the Chikasha House, which will be a 2,300 square-foot facility where families can stay while their loved ones are in the hospital for an extended period of time.

Located on the campus of the medical center, it will be comprised of two units with four bedrooms, private bathrooms and a shared kitchen, dining room, living room and laundry room.

Chikasha House is one way we can alleviate, at least in a small way, the stress and concern that comes when a family member is receiving care.

This will be a great addition to the medical center campus. Our plans are to continue to increase the size of Chikasha House.

Quality health care and access to quality health care are important to all Chickasaws. We will continue to work until we meet that goal.

Physical activities are very important. We have Chickasaws all around who participate in sports activities, all sorts of sports activities.

We heard from many, many people they would like for us to construct athletic facilities. So, we are building family-friendly athletic facilities.

In January, we broke ground on a new softball complex in Ada. The complex will include two regulation-sized softball fields and one youth field.

Each field will include dugouts, warm up areas, bleachers and lights for night games. And, to complete the family-friendly experience, there will also be a half-court, outdoor basketball court and a playground area for the kids. This place will truly be for the whole family.

The softball fields will be ready for tournament play next spring.

We plan to continue building quality athletic facilities. We have already had requests to build similar facilities in other locations, and we plan to do so.

Next year, we will begin a renovation of the gymnasium behind the headquarters building in Ada. The gymnasium will receive a complete facelift – new floor, new goals, new scoreboard and new bleachers.

We are very excited about this project. Plans are in design and development, and we will begin construction in the spring.

Soon, we will begin the process of creating a community center on the Ardmore campus. We have been requested also to plan for a gym in Ardmore.

The Ardmore campus is going to grow tremendously.

We have folks that are asking for us to do things and it’s so great these days to be able to do them.

There was a time when asking didn’t do a lot of good, but because of the success that we’ve had, the hard work that we’ve had among our employees and among the elected officials, we are at a point to where we can do a lot more and we are very, very thankful for that.

The Chickasaw Nation camps, clinics and academies have continued to grow. This past summer, Chickasaw youth from all across the United States participated in 25 different camps, clinics and academies.

These are opportunities for our youth to learn, to explore new ideas and ways of thinking, to find their passion and for us to support them.

One of the more successful athletic programs is martial arts. More than 1,300 participants attend classes each month in several locations across the Chickasaw Nation.

In 2011, the Chickasaw Nation launched the Chickasaw Riversport Canoe and Kayak program in cooperation with the Oklahoma City Boathouse Foundation. Now, while canoes and kayaking are an Olympic sport, they still have a traditional base.

This program is created to teach and coach Chickasaw youth from ages 11 to 18 in Olympic-style sprint canoe and kayak racing. Now, this summer, there has been some good results. This summer, we had four Chickasaws compete at the USA Canoe and Kayak Sprint National Championships in Seattle, Washington.

But, you know, Chickasaws competing is not enough, you want to win, right? Ben Conard, Hazel Eckart, Joshua Turner and Garrett Wampler competed and excelled in several events. In all, the four Chickasaw team members earned five medals: a gold medal, a silver medal and three bronze.

Let’s give these young people a round of applause.

The Chickasaw Nation has experienced remarkable growth in the past several years. With that growth, comes new challenges; the need for new or enhanced services.

We now have more than 30 Lighthorse Police Department officers helping keep our events, our buildings, our communities and our people safe and protected.

I have asked Tom John, division administrator of self- governance, to share some of the recent growth and success of the Lighthorse Police.

Following are comments from Tom John

Thank you, Governor.

The Lighthorse Police department includes 31 uniformed and investigative officers, two dual-certified narcotic K-9 units, a dive team and a SWAT team.

One of our top priorities is to expand the jurisdictional capacity of our force. We do that by entering into cross-deputation agreements with the cities and counties we serve.

This year, we signed new agreements with the cities of Calera, Colbert, Madill and Wilson, as well as Bryan County. This brings us to a total of 46 cross-deputations with local, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies.

In July, we cut the ribbon on the newly-renovated Lighthorse Police headquarters building in Ada. Updates to the building include a large training room, a tactical training room, an evidence room, K-9 unit offices, interrogation rooms and additional space for conference.

We are proud of the men and women of the Lighthorse Police Department. They continue to do outstanding work.

Thank you, Governor.

Governor Bill Anoatubby

Appreciate it, Tom.

You know, law enforcement is an essential function of any government. Lighthorse police officers and team members have served us well.

Tom also oversees a number of other things. The title administrator for self-governance is more than law enforcement.

He deals with the self-governance compacts with the Indian Health Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He’s key to strategic planning and handles the grants application process that we have with the federal government. He has his hands full, so thank you very much, Tom.

You know, there are Chickasaws living all across Oklahoma, in every state in the nation and in 12 countries on four continents around the world.

Communication is imperative. We work to find creative ways to communicate and share information with you no matter where you may live.

Online experiences and community radio are just two ways we hope to do that. We continue to add new educational and entertaining videos to Chickasaw.tv every day.

There are thousands of videos dedicated specifically to Chickasaw history, culture, news and events. And, it can be accessed by practically anyone around the world, as long as you have internet access.

In addition, we are redesigning the official website of the Chickasaw Nation. There is much information to share and provide on Chickasaw.net. We build our focus and we want to provide a more intuitive and user friendly experience.

KCNP radio can be heard on the airwaves locally, but more importantly, it is streamed live, 24 hours a day, via the internet. Many of you are listening to KCNP right now or watching our meeting online, so hello out there.

In addition to utilizing available media, we also understand the importance of fellowship and interaction. Chickasaws from across the country meet regularly in Chickasaw Community Groups. There are 21 active community groups in 11 different states.

We continue to seek new ways for our Chickasaw family to stay connected so that we may share with you and you may share with us. This is a digital world. With media, so much is possible.

We are working on a number of historical documentaries that will help share the story of our wonderful heritage with you and with the world. And, how many of you enjoyed the music video that we saw at the beginning of our meeting? That was really special, wasn’t it?

We talked about the Chickasaw spirit, the indomitable spirit of the Chickasaw Nation and its people. That song was written, produced and performed by several of our talented Chickasaw musicians and staff. You should have a DVD copy of that video in the bag you received at registration, so you will be able to watch it again and again at home and share it with your family.

And, for those of you listening from home, we have made the song available at our website at Chickasaw.net.

It’s a wonderful video. We’ve really been blessed folks. It’s a wonderful blessing.

The Chickasaw Nation has accomplished much, but we still have a lot to do, a lot ahead of us that we need to take on.

We will work hard to ensure that the spirit of the nation, that we’ve been talking about today and is the theme of our annual meeting, will continue to thrive.

It’s my privilege and honor to serve as your Governor.

I appreciate the support that you’ve given me, and with your continued support, I look forward to continuing to serve you as we work towards the betterment of the Chickasaw Nation and its people for many years to come.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to report to you that the state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong and getting stronger!

Thank you.