2019 State of the Nation Address

A Gathering of Our People
Governor Bill Anoatubby
10/5/2019 9:00:00 AM

2019 State of the Nation

The transcription of the 2019 State of the Nation address has been edited for readability and clarity.

Chokma! And good morning! To everybody here in the audience, we are also welcoming those who are listening over KCNP Radio and we have three stations now that broadcast all over the Chickasaw Nation and Brian Brashier tells me that as soon as we can increase the power we are going to hit south of Madill and all the way to the Red River. In addition, KCNP is online so there are people who can listen to this broadcast today online and they also can watch it online.  But we are including everybody and that’s good. And to all of you who are here today, welcome to this 59th Annual Meeting of the great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw Nation. You have already heard about all of the activities and I am sure that many of you have participated in those activities and we had a great week of events and festivities. One thing that wasn’t mentioned is the trip to Boiling Springs. Boiling Springs is one of our Methodist churches and we had a large group from California, right? We had a lot of citizens from California come out and we had legislators there. We had a great service and it was a great meal. We appreciate Boiling Springs and the members for inviting us and allowing us to be there. And Lisa Johnson Billy, she is the one who organized this. Lisa would you come back onstage. Let’s give her a thank you for doing that and she also does a great job here emceeing this event. It hasn’t been mentioned yet today, but she is the Secretary of Native American Affairs for the State of Oklahoma. Now that’s good. Well, it’s a great day, we’ve had a great day and week of events and it’s culminated right here at this Annual Meeting, which is a monumental gathering of the Chickasaw people. We have many friends that have joined us here today and they have been introduced, but I would like to go ahead and reintroduce some of them because they are really helpful to us. We have Representative Charles McCall, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Oklahoma House District No. 22. Would you please stand once again? We are very pleased to be here in Tishomingo, our historic capital of the Chickasaw Nation and we are pleased again to be joined by the mayor of Tishomingo, Sue Robbins. Sue, would you stand up and wave. We have the president of Murray State College, Dr. Joy McDaniel. I really appreciate you being here. You know, Tishomingo is our historic capital, but we have the city and we have the college, they just roll out the red carpet for us every time we have Annual Meeting and Festival. We appreciate that very much. We also appreciate the support and the help that we get from East Central University, and today, we have Dr. Katricia Pierson, who is president. Let’s have her stand once again. You know, we have Chickasaws everywhere and they are running a lot of different things and sometimes they move into these arenas and people do not even know it. But we have Dr. Gary Sandefer, who is provost and vice president of Academic Affairs of Oklahoma State University, let’s recognize him again. And over at OU, we have someone trying to control things over there, too. We keep working on it, but we can’t get a handle on all of it, but we are working. Over there we have Dr. Amanda Cobb, who is over the Native American Studies Program. Dr. Cobb, I know you’re in the audience somewhere. She is joined by her husband, Stephen Greetham. Stephen is an attorney within the Chickasaw Nation. We got him because we recruited Amanda years ago and Stephen came along for the ride. We also have Judge Michael Burrage. Judge, would you please stand again and be recognized. His lovely wife is here with him. He is a former U.S. district judge, but he helps guide us when it comes to legal affairs and is really helpful. Judge, we appreciate you and we appreciate you being here today. Of course, our good friend again previously introduced but recently retired from the University of Central Oklahoma, Dr. Don Betz. There are a lot of friends here and we appreciate all of you. We do have and are hopeful to continue to make the kinds of friends that we have in these individuals and we keep working on that. We have, of course, our elected officials here today and we are thankful for all of you. Lt. Governor, the legislators and the justices of our Supreme Court, we are thankful that you are here. It is really a joy working with you all and congratulations to all of those who for the second time this week have taken their oath of office. We are thankful for you and all of you who are here today.

One person I want to mention, he is taking a well-earned vacation right now, and it’s former Lt. Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. We appreciate the 20 years of services of Jefferson Keel as Lt. Governor. But you know I talked him into staying on. He is going to be in a different role, of course. He will be the Lt. Governor Emeritus. You know he represented us on a lot of national boards and commissions and its really imperative that we have a voice and a contribution to important policy decisions. You will be pleased to know that he will continue doing those kinds of things for us. In fact, he is going to expand that role from national issues and affairs to also some international things that we have. So let’s thank Jefferson again for his service.

One person, I did not mean to skip you, Admiral. We have with us Rear Admiral Kevin Meeks, retired from Indian Health Service. Let’s welcome him again.

Wow, you have already seen our Chickasaw Princesses, right? Aren’t they lovely? Believe me if you had been at the princess pageant you would have also seen how talented they are. I believe they are going to do a wonderful job this coming year, congratulations and we look forward to working with you during the coming year. Would you stand up again so people can see you and recognize you? Let’s give them another round of applause.

So today is a great day to be Chickasaw, right? But I think that we can also say that every day is a great day to be Chickasaw. We are a nation of people who have helped shape world history. We have persevered through times of great adversity and enjoyed times of great success. Sovereignty, we have talked a lot about sovereignty over the years. Sovereignty is crucial to our identity as a nation of people who have the right to govern themselves. Chickasaws have been sovereign since time immemorial. While our form of government has changed over the years, our sovereignty always remains. Chickasaws understand that the power of our nation resides in our people. Oral history tells of our migration. We established ourselves as a nation in our Homeland. More recent history tells of the agonizing decision our leaders had to make to remove from that Homeland. While the Chickasaw people had a close cultural connection to the land, they chose to leave rather than forfeit our recognition as a sovereign nation. In Indian Territory, the Chickasaw people established the Chickasaw Constitution to define the structure, duties and responsibilities of our government. Oklahoma statehood forced changes to that structure, a governor appointed by the federal government became the only governmental official of our nation. Changes that came with statehood placed serious restrictions on the exercise of self-governance for decades. Still, the Chickasaw Nation continued to be a sovereign nation. Many Chickasaws worked tirelessly to reestablish our government. Those Chickasaws understood that sovereignty is foundational to our government that the core purpose of our government is to secure those rights given to each of us by the Creator. We are a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black once said, “Great nations, like great men, should keep their word.” We are a great nation. We honor our agreements and we live by our word. We expect others to do the same. It is our duty and responsibility to protect our sovereignty, and we will do so with diligence and with resolve to be steadfast in our defense of our nation and our rights. Our nation has made tremendous progress in a relatively short period of time. Our cabinet secretaries perform vital work for the Chickasaw Nation and are dedicated in their service to the Chickasaw people. We work diligently to ensure we have knowledgeable, well-trained experts in a variety of fields so that we can best serve our nation. I am going to introduce our cabinet secretaries and if you will please stand as you are introduced. We start with Dr. Charles Grim, department of health; Robyn Elliott, department of communications and community development; Lisa John, department of culture and humanities; Jay Keel, department of family services; Jalinda Kelley, department of interior services; Bill Lance, department of commerce; and Holly Johnson, department of treasury. In a lot of governments, you see a big turnover in these positions. I think you will be pleased to know that all these people have been serving for at least since we have had cabinet secretaries. We are thankful for the work that they do. Now I do want to mention a change though. Holly Johnson, who actually, was the very first secretary. When this was done, she was appointed the position of secretary of treasury, the very first one, before we formed the entire cabinet. She served the Chickasaw Nation very well for many years. She was first an employee, then she was an elected official as a legislator and now she is a cabinet secretary. Holly has been instrumental in developing and implementing sound fiscal controls that ensure good spending practices and promote one of our bylines - responsible stewardship. She has decided it is time to retire as a cabinet secretary, and she will be missed. Let’s give her a nice round of applause for her service. She has done such a great job. We have a new secretary of treasury and I would like to announce Chickasaw Dakota Cole is going to take that position. Dakota has been around a little while, he is not brand-new. He was deputy secretary of commerce and he will soon be transitioning to work directly with Holly through the end of this year. Holly and Dakota both serve as examples of service to the people of the Chickasaw Nation. Let’s give them both a nice round of applause. The Lt. Governor will be serving in the very first position of Secretary of Administration. Thank you Lt. Governor.

A nation is sometimes defined by its territorial boundaries, and that is true for us, the Chickasaw Nation. We encompass all or part of 13 counties in south-central Oklahoma. But there is more to our nation than territory, because we were a nation in our Homeland, just as much as we are a nation today in this new land. We, as Chickasaws, are part of our great nation no matter where we live. A nation is sometimes defined by a constitution, a set of laws and a government. This is also true of the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaw Constitution outlines the structure, duties and powers of our government. And yet there is more to our nation than its constitution and its government. At the heart of our nation is our people - the Chickasaw people - a people who share a common heritage, a culture and traditions.

Chickasaw culture and values help shape our vision for the future. We have made great progress toward fulfilling our vision to be a nation of successful and united people with a strong cultural identity. Chickasaw people are achieving new levels of personal success that allows them to have a positive impact on the lives of others. We believe it is vital to lift up our fellow Chickasaws and our neighbors. We exercise self-determination and sovereignty to offer opportunities for our people to learn and grow and achieve individual success. We also develop essential partnerships with state and local governments, businesses, schools and other entities. As a part of the community, we believe that is essential to work together to address challenges and seize opportunities.

As our businesses have prospered, we have been able to invest in new opportunities and diversify our portfolio. This economic success has enabled us to expand existing programs and services and develop new ones. These programs and services have helped thousands of Chickasaws achieve their own dreams. Ladies and gentlemen, let it be known that today, the Chickasaw Nation -our nation - is the strongest it has ever been.

Our commitment to financial stability, accountability and responsible stewardship makes our nation strong. In your registration packets today, once again, you have our annual financial report. Someone when we were first arriving paid attention to this financial statement and they said, “Hey, it’s looking good. Things are looking good.” And it’s nice to know people are paying attention. This financial report is derived from the Chickasaw Nation’s latest audited financial statements so it will be like the end of 2018. Our accounting department and our treasury department want to make sure we get the most up-to-date information we can. So, they also provide one that ends Aug. 31. Now this first report gives you information from the beginning of 1987 to the end of fiscal year 2018. And as you can see it shows tremendous growth in both business and governmental sectors. This last fiscal year business income increased by 8% and non-commerce governmental revenues grew more than 17%. We are still continuing to grow and it’s a healthy growth. The assets of the nation grew by 11% this year. Trust funds, at one time that was all we had. In fact, as I recall the first amount that I was aware of when I became Governor we had a little bit less than $500,000 in there. In fiscal year 2018, these trust funds increased to more than $23 million. And you can look at the unaudited statement that is also provided. Due in large part to performance of our businesses, the financial state of the Chickasaws is the strongest it has ever been.

Today, our nation is strong because of our long-term planning in diversification and investments in growing our businesses. In 2019, Chickasaw Nation businesses achieved record revenues and net profits. This fiscal year, net profits from core business operations have increased by more than 15%. Thank you. I wasn’t fishing for that, but I did want to also bring attention to the Chickasaw Nation Industries. Chickasaw Industries is led by David Nimmo. CNI is on track to reach another record for revenue this fiscal year, and even conservative estimates indicate that since 2015, CNI has grown 75%. There are a lot of reasons for that but part of that is Filtra- Systems and their SCOUT mobile filtration system, which actually has the potential to revolutionize the oil and gas industry, and its Voyager community water treatment system, which will solve challenges of rural communities throughout the United States. This cost efficient, environmentally friendly system is expanding into new markets and reduces the demand on our streams and aquifers. CNI’s manufacturing plant in Marietta has operated at record levels to keep up with the demand for its products. Another CNI subsidiary, Corvid Technologies, is also expanding rapidly. Corvid Technologies performs computer simulations for entities from the U.S. Department of Defense to NASCAR. Earlier this year, Corvid won a $223 million contract with the United States government that allows Corvid to expand beyond computer simulations. Under this contract, Corvid will provide hardware and components for rocket-propelled vehicles. I think CNI may be rocket-propelled, right now. We also have Chickasaw Nation owned Bank2, which is led by CEO T.W. Shannon.  Bank2 is the longstanding top source of Native American home loans in the state and continues to record earnings and growth each and every year. We work to ensure business diversification and economic development includes a focus on local communities. In the modern world, perhaps the most important infrastructure is fast reliable internet. Trace Fiber Networks is bridging the technology gap affecting small towns and rural communities within Chickasaw Country by building a reliable fiber-optic network. To date, Trace Fiber Networks has installed nearly 180 miles of buried fiber-optic cable and 215 miles of conduit. Once completed, the nearly 500-mile fiber-optic network will connect 40 communities and schools and will provide unsurpassed speed and connectivity to over 100 Chickasaw Nation owned businesses. As well as a variety of facilities including offices, Head Starts, hospitals, clinics and libraries and more importantly homes. Many of our students do not have internet connection. This will help them do better. Our continued commitment to building a sound economy through growth and diversification makes our nation strong.

Our nation is strong because we invest in people. The revenue generated from tribal businesses is used to offer more than 200 programs and services to the Chickasaw people. We continue to add to that list, by the way. We are always looking at the programs that we have to make sure they are working well and if we need to change, we make a change to those programs. They do not just sit there and run the same way all the time. So one thing that we depend on is input from the people we serve. So be sure to remember that. We want to hear from you when it comes to those programs.

This next thing is an example. The next thing I am going to talk about is education. This past year we have invested more than $25 million in scholarships, grants and other forms of financial support to more than 5,400 Chickasaw students. I mentioned that we do evaluate and the price of education has gone up so it is important we stay in touch with that and so we constantly evaluate how best to serve our students. You may recall last year, I reported that we increased the amount in scholarships for tuition and the number of credit hours that we fund per semester, as well as the amount of textbook grants. One goal that we have, in a lot of families across this country, their children, their students graduate college and they have enormous student debt that holds them back in their careers. Holds them back so we are hoping that we can impact the amount of student debt that these students would have when they graduate. We were in San Antonio, for one of our gatherings last year and I had a lady come up to me and she said, “Hey, I would like for you to meet my grandson.” I met the grandson. He graduated without any student debt. Now, isn’t that wonderful? That is absolutely wonderful. You know whenever you look at the bill, I’m not sure if that’s what they call it, that’s what I call it, a bill for the cost of education when a student enrolls, you see the tuition in some cases has stayed pretty stable, but the fees have gone up. Right? That’s a cost and it’s one that the parents and the family has to bearor the student. And so this fall semester we introduced a new higher education grant to help with fees that are associated with tuition and enrollment and that’s been pretty popular. This fee assistance grant is just another way that the Chickasaw Nation is encouraging students to achieve a higher education degree. And there are other ways. We have our higher education recruitment and retention program. It’s continuing to grow, and it helps Chickasaw students with connection to tribal resources and academic support. And I think President Betz, you had one of our staff right next door to you, when you were president of UCO. They perform a valuable service to our students. Currently, the program serves Chickasaws who attend the University of Oklahoma, University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Community College, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Murray State College with plans to expand to East Central University soon. This year, we acquired the historic and architecturally significant Casa Blanca building near the University of Oklahoma campus. It’s really near, it’s on Boyd and Jenkins. Renovations began this spring on this 7,300-square-foot building, which will be home to our very first Chickasaw student center and the recruitment and retention program. That’s pretty cool. We have plans to establish similar student centers soon, right here at Murray State College and then at East Central University. On the campus of Oklahoma State University, we established a partnership in 2015, to offer these services to Chickasaw students at the Center for Sovereign Nations. Chickasaw Institute was designed to provide trainings and apprenticeships to Chickasaws in a variety of technical trades. Recently, the state Construction Industries Board approved our Chickasaw Institute curriculum for apprentice training programs for electricians and heating and air conditioning technicians. These programs offer the opportunity to complete many of the requirements for a journeyman license and according to the Construction Industries Board, we are the first in Oklahoma to offer this installer’s certificate. So things are moving in that arena. I think we all know that early childhood education is a critical factor in child development. Earlier this year, we completed a new Head Start facility in Sulphur. This new facility will greatly increase enrollment capacity and has four classrooms, a safe room and an expanded playground and cafeteria. This past year, the Chickasaw Honor Club incentives provided awards to more than 2,700 Chickasaw students and distributed almost 6,700 awards to encourage excellent academic performance in elementary school. Education starts immediately practically when you are born, sometimes people say beforehand. You know that we have quite a range of things that are intended to serve Chickasaws from the time that they are entering some type of formal education until they have graduated. It’s under the department of community services and I did miss somebody a minute ago. It was Wayne Scribner. Wayne is over the department of community services. Wayne, would you stand and be recognized? Nearly 100 Chickasaw young adults from 10 different states met in Oklahoma City, for the first ever Chickasaw NextGen Conference. They networked with Chickasaw Nation professionals, they met with prominent Oklahoma City business leaders and developed their career skills. For many, this was their first time to interact with the Chickasaw Nation and the resources that we provide. In addition, dozens of Chickasaws from across the country earned valuable experience in a variety of disciplines serving as interns at the Chickasaw Nation, in Washington, D.C., and other locations. This commitment to future generations makes our nation strong.

Our nation is strong because of our determination to offer opportunities for education and employment. The Chickasaw Employment Access Division assists Chickasaws in removing barriers to employment and obtaining the necessary training and placement needed for employment. We are excited to announce that more than 500 Chickasaws utilized the variety of services provided through Chickasaw Employment Access this year. Through programs that provide on-the-job training, education and support, 244 Chickasaws received employment offers, in other words they got a job. In addition, we have implemented a day training program for citizens who have the opportunity to earn pay for a single day of work. The program averaged 80 participants a day. It’s amazing how many citizens out there simply need to work a day. Many of them have been hired into full-time employment. In the first year of operation, the job placement opportunities program established 531 on-the-job training and employment site options. And basic job skills and work experience were provided to nearly 400 citizens from ages 14-21 - the Toksali SMART program - preparing our youth for being able to do a good job and find jobs, find employment.

Our nation is strong because the Chickasaw Nation is committed to the health and well-being of its people. Recent remodeling and expansions of the emergency department and pharmacy at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center are allowing us to serve even more patients. In early 2018, ground was broken for a two-story, 32,000-square-foot pharmacy, on the Ada South Campus. In July, the Family Medicine Residency Program Clinic opened on the third floor of the medical center. The Family Residency Program has both economic and social benefits for our community. We are so proud of our partnership with OSU on this program. Graduates of medical residency programs tend to settle and establish a practice or become an active provider where they have trained. Over the next few years, we have plans to expand and remodel several other clinics at the medical center, which will enable us to expand and improve services. This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Community Health Representative program. The Chickasaw Nation was one of the first tribes to employ CHRs. CHRs are an advocate for community resources and referrals serving hundreds of Chickasaws in their homes or at one of our 12 senior sites. We continue to look for opportunities to expand the reach of our health programs. Using available smart technology, Virtual Medical Visit grew to serve more than 3,000 patients this past year. Recently, our WIC program launched a mobile unit to travel to remote rural sites, making WIC services accessible to current and potential participants living in those areas. Many know what WIC means -  Women, Infants and Children program. We are excited to announce an expansion of our successful winter fruit and vegetable program to include Chickasaw seniors and Chickasaw Warrior Society members in the Tulsa area. We know that good health should also include preventative medicine and healthy lifestyles, such as increased exercise and proper nutrition. With that in mind, we broke ground on a new 25,000-square-foot wellness center, on the Ada North Campus in 2018. This new wellness center will soon open and consists of a number of distinct areas that serve different fitness-related functions. Over the past year, the Chickasaw Nation Department of Health served 970,000 patient encounters, delivered more than 785 babies. They filled more than 1.9 million prescriptions. Now, this might sound a little unusual, but we have a food program for youth, and they served more than 88,000 meals to children. In addition, through our Tribal Health program, we welcomed more than 154,000 visits at our wellness centers, served more than 5,300 Chickasaws with eyeglass assistance and served more than 7,000 Chickasaws with financial assistance to help with medical, dental, orthodontics, durable medical equipment and hearing aid needs. As you can see, the state of our nation is strong because our people continue to become stronger and healthier.

Our nation is also strong because the Chickasaw Nation continues to respect and treasure our elders and veterans. We help our elders with their daily needs through services ranging from energy assistance to chore services to over-the-counter medication assistance. This year, nearly 500 elders attended our annual Elders Conference at WinStar World Casino and Resort. Also this year at WinStar, we hosted the fifth annual Chickasaw Veterans Conference. More than 230 Chickasaw veterans attended. We are very pleased to announce the Chickasaw Warrior Society continues to grow. There are more than 1,600 warrior society members. Our veterans lodge is hosting an increasing number of events and services focused on providing valuable information and fellowship opportunities.

Strong homes and even stronger families make our nation strong. A safe and quality home is important to a family’s individual health and their wellness, as well as a key contributor toward financial stability. Housing programs and services have helped thousands of Chickasaws gain the benefits of homeownership. In addition, hundreds of Chickasaws secured new storm shelters this year. We will continue searching for better and innovative solutions to help meet the housing needs of Chickasaw families. We have completed two new facilities to help heal and strengthen families– the Women’s Recovery Center and the Violence Prevention Center. The programs administered in these buildings will safeguard and serve women and their children, protecting families from physical and substance abuse. This year, we also celebrated the 15th anniversary of the Chickasaw Children’s Village. In the last 15 years, the Chickasaw Children’s Village has served more than 1,200 students, helping them build both study and life skills.

Our commitment to build community and partnerships with our neighbors makes our nation strong. We have worked hard to be good neighbors. We continue to partner with communities to provide vital resources and infrastructure that benefit all Oklahomans. It is essential that we take a science-based approach to sustainable natural resource management. The Chickasaw Natural Resource Office is working with federal, state and local partners to improve and conserve our vital natural resources. For example, right here in Tishomingo, we are working closely with the city to improve the municipal water infrastructure. Our roads program continues to partner with local governments to improve local streets, highways, community roads and bridges. This year, through joint projects, we committed to more than $6 million to resurface or construct 22 miles of roadway. This month marks the 15th anniversary of the reestablishment of our Lighthorse Police Department. Lighthorse has been a longstanding partner with local and state organizations striving to keep our communities safe. To date, we have 48 cross deputation agreements allowing us to partner with city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, maximizing our shared resources to protect and serve communities. It is important that we continue to share the story of the Chickasaw Nation and the Chickasaw people. Just this month, we began training on the Chickasaw Heritage Series Curriculum. The curriculum was developed cooperatively with state educators to meet state academic standards and to share the story of who we are with the next generation of Oklahomans. More than 100 Oklahoma teachers attended workshops that provided curriculum, lesson plans and resources based on our documentary films to use in their classrooms. This will be the first time that many Oklahoma students will learn about the influential role that the Chickasaw Nation played in U.S. and world history. These lesson plans will also help students better understand the Chickasaw Nation’s past and present contributions to the growth and development of Oklahoma. These pilot workshops were so successful that we are already planning more trainings and expanded curricula for the future. We seize this opportunity to share who we are, our values and our history. As we discussed earlier, the Chickasaw community is not limited to our geographical boundaries. Because Chickasaws live around the world, it is essential that we utilize many different avenues to stay connected. Today, our community connects through social media, email, publications and mailers, television and radio broadcasts, and the web. Another way to stay connected is through our Chickasaw connection groups. This year, we added two new connection groups bringing the total to 36 groups serving thousands of Chickasaws by providing valuable opportunities for Chickasaws to gather and share information. Many of the people in this room today are members of Chickasaw connection groups. We appreciate all of you and your willingness to be part of these connection groups and your willingness to share information and we are eager to share information with you. Your insight and feedback are essential to the growth of our tribe. We are strong because of our partnerships and communities.

Dedication to our language and culture makes our nation strong. We leverage the latest technology to make learning more accessible. Chickasaw language learning software, in particular, has been our focus for the past few years. Rosetta Stone Chickasaw has been very successful, reaching 6,400 registered users since it was first implemented. Earlier this year, we released Rosetta Stone Chickasaw Level 3 for both Apple and Android devices. This new installment of 40 immersive lessons builds on the previous two levels and brings our language learners one step closer to fluency. This year, the Chickasaw Press released six titles ranging from children’s books to history of the Chickasaw Nation. While you are here in Tishomingo, be sure to visit the Chickasaw Press tent and you will get to look at all of these titles and you will see the authors there as well. We also keep our traditions alive and thriving through the games we play. Out of all of them, stickball is the most notable. Along with revitalizing our traditions, stickball promotes a healthy and active lifestyle. This year, a women’s stickball team was formed and has already grown to more than 50 members. So look out guys. Since opening in 2010, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has shared our culture with more than 820,000 visitors from all around the world. Over this past fiscal year, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has won 13 awards. They do an excellent job over there. Two of those awards were conservation awards for our monarch butterfly repopulation initiative. You probably heard a lot about the monarch and how they’re in danger. The Chickasaws stepped up at the Chickasaw Cultural Center.

Our nation is strong because we know who we are and continue to keep our culture, language and traditions alive. The Chickasaw Nation is strong because the Chickasaw people are strong. Many years ago at Seeley Chapel, our people came together, we came together and collectively dreamt of a stronger nation. A nation with self-governance and self-determination, a nation with financial stability and economic prosperity, a nation that provides opportunities for its people to achieve their dreams. Year after year, we are fulfilling our vision. The Chickasaw Nation is positioned to do even more. We drive toward the future with passion and purpose. We are strong, because our people are strong. Regardless of the challenges we face, we will push forward toward an even brighter future. Thank you, and God bless you. God bless you as the Chickasaw Nation has been blessed. I want you to know that the state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong and getting stronger.