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Governor Anoatubby says State of the Chickasaw Nation "stronger than ever"

 

TISHOMINGO, Okla. – During his Oct. 3 State of the Nation address, Governor Bill Anoatubby told an enthusiastic crowd that "the Chickasaw Nation is stronger than ever and our nation's future is brighter than ever."

Addressing a crowd which filled Fletcher Auditorium and flowed into an adjacent overflow tent, Gov. Anoatubby added "the financial position of the tribe is strong and getting stronger."

Income from tribal businesses in 2015 is expected to be the most ever earned by the Chickasaw Nation. Total assets of the tribe have increased by more than $200 million in 2015. Chickasaw Nation trust funds have grown from around $450,000 in 1987 to nearly $22.6 million.

More than twice that amount was recently awarded to the Chickasaw Nation in a settlement of litigation involving trust assets that lasted nearly a decade.

The Chickasaw Nation will receive $46.5 million of a $186 million settlement in a case alleging the U.S. mismanaged 1.3 million acres of timber lands belonging to the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations.

"Our portion of the funds will be carefully invested and the returns used for activities that improve the overall quality of life of all Chickasaws," said Gov. Anoatubby.

Gov. Anoatubby said the case involved issues more significant than a disagreement over financial accounting.

"Perhaps more important than the actual dollars, this settlement turns the page," said Gov. Anoatubby. "It represents the United States' acknowledgement of its mistreatment of the Chickasaw Nation and American Indians of Indian Territory during those early decades of the twentieth century.

"We continue to actively protect and defend our sovereignty, but, we will continue to strive to improve our working relationship with the government and it agencies and agents."

In a case involving labor law, Gov. Anoatubby said he was pleased to report that the National Labor Relations Board recognized tribal sovereignty and treaties in making its decision.

"In June, the National Labor Relations Board dismissed a complaint against the Chickasaw Nation because of our status as a sovereign nation and the treaties our ancestors negotiated," said Gov. Anoatubby. "The board ruled it did not have jurisdiction over the Chickasaw Nation workplaces because of the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.

"That treaty is a testament to the wisdom and foresight of our tribal leaders who negotiated it. We are pleased that the board recognized that the Chickasaw Nation's treaties remain the bedrock of our legal relationship with the United States."

Health Care

Gov. Anoatubby noted that health care has long been a high priority for the tribe.

"Health care for all of our citizens has been one of the biggest investments we have made," said Gov. Anoatubby. "We have seen tremendous returns on our investment in the treatment and prevention of illness."

There were more than 800,000 patient visits to the health system, including more than 40,000 dental visits. There were 836 babies born at the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center this year. The pharmacies filled nearly 1.2 million prescriptions, including more than 500,000 filled through the pharmacy refill center which serves Chickasaws across the U.S.

"It is vital that we keep ourselves and our families in good health – physically, mentally and spiritually," said Gov. Anoatubby. "While our wellness centers saw more than 170,000 visits this past year, we continue to increase our focus on prevention because we know the importance of programs that support education on nutrition and healthy lifestyles."

This year, the Chickasaw Nation partnered with the USDA to become the first tribal medical center in the U.S. to begin offering Healthy Meals for Kids, which provides any child 18 and younger a nutritious meal free of charge when they come to the facility.

Education

Noting that education has been a high priority because it opens doors to a better life, Gov. Anoatubby outlined some recent investments in education from early childhood through university.

In august, the Chickasaw Nation became a charter tribe in establishing the Oklahoma State University Center for Sovereign Nations. The center is designed to help promote understanding and respect for tribal sovereignty and increase the number of American Indian graduates from the school.

Gov. Anoatubby also said the tribe had implemented a new STEM initiative.

"To continue introducing students to the fields of science, technology and math, we introduced the STEMsearch program to show how things taught in the classroom are applied to real world career options," said Gov. Anoatubby.

Four early childhood centers served more than 330 students, while the Higher Education and Career Technology programs funded more than 4,800 students in the amount of $18.6 million this year.

Development

Gov. Anoatubby reported that a number of new facilities are under construction in communities throughout the Chickasaw Nation, including Tishomingo.

"In many cases, our existing facilities have aged and need to be replaced and upgraded," said Gov. Anoatubby. "In some situations we have simply outgrown the space and need to expand to accommodate our growing population and service offerings."

In Tishomingo, the tribe is building a new, larger childhood education center as well as a new community center and a new senior center. A new information center is also under construction near the entrance to Pennington Park in Tishomingo. The center will feature informational kiosks to help visitors learn about the many attractions in the area.

In Purcell a new area office is under construction on the campus with the community center and health clinic. Expansion of the health clinic, which will include new exam rooms, dental and imaging services as well as physical therapy and expanded pharmacy services is also underway. A wellness center, which will include a swimming pool, free weights and exercise equipment, is also under construction.

Housing

Housing services are also a high priority for the Chickasaw Nation.

This year, the Chuka Chukmasi Home Loan Program helped 57 Chickasaw families with almost $8 million in home mortgages so they could invest in new homes of their own. The Chickasaw Nation also provided down payment and closing cost assistance to 398 citizens buying new homes.

This year, the tribe installed 728 storm shelters at Chickasaw homes, bringing the total to 3,992 shelters installed over the life of the program designed to protect families during severe weather.

Aging

"From meal programs, to home maintenance and car care assistance, help with the cost of medications and assisted living supplement programs, we are constantly asking ourselves how we can improve the lives of our elders," said Gov. Anoatubby.

This year, the Chickasaw Nation served more than 227,000 breakfasts, lunches and homebound meals from their 12 senior centers in communities across the Chickasaw Nation. These centers also provide a place for health screenings, wellness classes and social interaction.

"We have a time of tremendous growth and even greater potential ahead of us, said Gov. Anoatubby. "The best is yet to come."

 

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