Bill Anoatubby was born in Denison, Texas, on November 8, 1945, the youngest of six children. Just before Bill’s third birthday, his father passed away suddenly. Bill’s mother, Opal, moved her children to Tishomingo, Oklahoma, to be near family. His father provided the sole income, and it was difficult for a single mother to raise a family. At the time of his father’s death, the youngest child at home was under three and the oldest was only fourteen. Opal Anoatubby was devoted to her family. She took in work such as ironing and housekeeping. In addition, she made sure she was at home to see Bill off to school every morning and was home when he returned. At an early age, he learned how to budget and appreciate the little things in life. Opal always made sure necessities were provided, but extras were not something they could afford.
In fifth grade, Bill took his first job, delivering papers for the Ada Evening News. His goal was to purchase a bicycle. He soon found himself in a predicament….he needed a bicycle to do the paper route. His mom took him to the local OTASCO store, where he set up an installment plan with the owner. By the time Bill entered the sixth grade, his mother had developed a work-related health condition. They moved to Ada to live with family while she recuperated.
It was at Ada Junior High, during his seventh grade year, that Bill became interested in football. By the end of the year, his mother was healthy and they returned to Tishomingo. He began playing football at Tishomingo Public Schools. Bill was involved in many activities from sports to student government during his high school years. Some of his many achievements include: most valuable lineman, letters in football and track, junior class president, student council representative for the letterman’s club, all district lineman and he was also voted all around boy. Bill graduated sixth in his class with a 3.63 GPA.
Bill worked many jobs throughout his youth, including two paper routes, concessions at the theater, hauling hay and following his two older brothers’ tradition by working at the Rush Brother’s grocery store.
Although he felt it was out of his reach financially, Bill wanted to attend college. A Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) field representative visited Tishomingo High School to inform students about the scholarships available to them. Bill hoped this would be his way to college. He began visiting local schools with his friends and decided to apply for admission at East Central University (ECU). During his junior year in high school, he enlisted in the National Guard and was transferred to active duty immediately upon graduation in May 1964.
While stationed at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, his mother received a letter stating he had not received the BIA scholarship. Upon hearing this news, Bill decided he would find a way. He began sending half of his military paychecks to his mother to save for tuition. After active duty, he enrolled at Murray State College (MSC).
Bill met Janice Loman and in 1967, they were married. In 1969, Bill went back to college and finished his associate’s degree at MSC.
Bill enrolled at East Central University in 1970. While at ECU, he worked at Safeway grocery store and learned about business and people. In 1972, he earned his degree in accounting and also welcomed a baby boy into the family. His oldest son, Chris, was born on Sept. 15, 1972.
Upon graduation, Bill and his family moved to Duncan, where he took a job with a business owner managing the office and books. In 1974, his employer decided to move the business headquarters to Houston, Texas, and offered Bill a position if he wanted it. He chose to stay in Oklahoma and took a job in Oklahoma City with the Little Giant Corporation as the chief accountant.
Throughout the transitions in his life, Bill felt pulled to the Chickasaw Nation. The tribe was just beginning to do a few things that were visible. In the winter of 1975, the Chickasaw Nation posted a position in the Tishomingo Capital Democrat for a health services director. Governor Overton James called Bill to offer him the position, and so began his career with the tribe. He dove right in by implementing rules and regulations for his new department. Upon seeing what he was capable of, Governor James asked Bill to develop these same policies for the entire organization. Approximately one year later, he was promoted to accounting director, where he was responsible for centralizing all finances of the tribe. Bill implemented policies and procedures that are still evident across the Chickasaw Nation today. As he displayed what he could contribute to the tribe, Governor James showed his confidence in Bill appointing him as special assistant to the Governor.
In 1979, Governor James invited Bill to join him on the ballot as the lieutenant governor. When they won the tribal election, Bill acted much like the chief operating officer of the tribe.
In the summer of 1986, Governor James informed Bill that he would not seek re-election as Governor of the Chickasaw Nation. After much deliberation with his family, Bill decided to place his name on the ballot. He asked Kennedy Brown to join him as lieutenant governor. They defeated two other teams by carrying 55% of the vote.
When Bill Anoatubby was elected governor in 1987, the Chickasaw Nation had 250 employees and $11 million in outlays. The tribe had a larger budget than funds, but Bill’s primary goal was to keep the tribe functioning. He began to search for ways to save money, and to this day, refers to borrowing paperclips in an effort to conserve funds. Slowly, his effective management led the tribe toward progress. The tribe began to make money through building businesses. In addition, more programs and services were offered to the Chickasaw people.
Today, the Chickasaw Nation employs nearly 13,500 people. Funding for tribal operations has grown exponentially, tribal assets have grown twenty fold. Governor Anoatubby is committed to meeting the needs and desires of Chickasaw people by providing health care services, opportunities for employment and career advancement, heritage and cultural preservation and the chance for every Chickasaw to obtain a higher education.
Anoatubby’s family has grown to include sons Brian and Chris along with Chris’ wife Becky and their three children, Brendan, Eryn and Sydney; and Brian’s wife Melinda and their two children Chloe and Preslea.
Preserving and sharing Chickasaw history and culture is a top priority for the Chickasaw Nation under Governor Anoatubby’s leadership.
With the largest tribal cultural center in the country and numerous programs and services devoted to cultural education, language, historic preservation and the arts, Governor Anoatubby has fostered an environment conducive to carrying on Chickasaw traditions and culture for generations to come.
He has overseen the formation of a multitude of programs and services around this commitment, including numerous art classes, camps, contests and programs, Rosetta Stone Chickasaw, Chickasaw Press, cultural resources, camps, historical societies and historical sites, such as the Chickasaw Nation Capitol, Chickasaw White House and Council House Museum. After more than 20 years of dreaming and planning, the Chickasaw Cultural Center serves as a home for Chickasaw people of all ages and backgrounds to share in and celebrate Chickasaw history and culture . Since opening in 2010, the cultural center has welcomed 783,545 guests.
Today, the tribe is teaching Chickasaw history and culture to the next generation through the young Chickasaw dance troupe and youth stickball.
To meets the needs of all Chickasaws, Governor Anoatubby developed a deliberate plan to fully exercise the tribe’s right of self-determination. Self-determination for the Chickasaw Nation was done through successful business and economic development. Tribal programs and services rely on revenue generated by tribal businesses to operate and expand.
Today, the Chickasaw Nation, under Governor Anoatubby’s leadership, has a sound economic base. The tribe operates more than 100 diversified business, which provide the majority of the funding for more than 200 programs and services. Through business diversification, prosperity for the tribe will continue into the future.
With growing economic development comes work for Chickasaw citizens. The creation of jobs allows those willing to work a chance to meet the needs of their own families and, therefore, fulfill the tribe’s mission of enhancing the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people.
The newly created Chickasaw Employment Access prepares Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers by assisting them remove barriers to employment and identifying and obtaining the necessary training and placement needed for employment.
Governor Anoatubby understands the need for continuing education for the betterment of Chickasaw citizens and the communities in which they live. Education is vital for the future success of the tribe and, therefore, has been a focal point of the Anoatubby administration.
Under Governor Anoatubby’s leadership, the Chickasaw Nation is continually improving upon and enhancing its various educational programs and services to reflect his commitment to the future excellence of Chickasaw citizens around the globe.
Programs and services offered under Governor Anoatubby’s leadership include higher education scholarships, grants and incentives, school supply assistance, internship and school-to-work programs, Head Start and child development centers for younger students along with numerous educational clubs and programs. In addition, under Governor Anoatubby’s administration, the tribe has increased the amount in scholarships; increased the tuition amount and the number of credit hours funded and amount granted for textbooks. In the fall of 2019, the tribe will provide assistance with the expense of fees.
Chickasaw elders are widely considered “living treasures” of the tribe. Chickasaw elders provide a valuable link to our tribal past and set a shining example for younger generations of Chickasaw leaders. Governor Anoatubby works diligently to honor our elders and emphasize their importance to the tribe.
Under his leadership, numerous quality programs and services are available to enhance the everyday life of Chickasaw elders around the country, including an energy assistance program, assisted living benefit program, prescription medication programs, burial programs, lawn mowing, chore services and home maintenance programs, veterans’ programs, senior nutrition programs, multiple health programs and more.
The Chickasaw Nation now operates 12 senior centers in Ada, Ardmore, Connerville, Duncan, Kullihoma, Madill, Oklahoma City, Panola, Pauls Valley, Purcell, Sulphur and Tishomingo.
Governor Anoatubby has dedicated numerous resources to nurturing and encouraging strong Chickasaw families and instilling family values throughout the Chickasaw Nation. He understands the value of healthy families and their impact on the tribe as a whole.
Programs and services devoted to the enrichment of Chickasaw families, from children to adults, provide a positive impact for the next generation of Chickasaws. These programs include therapeutic services for individuals, couples and families, violence prevention training and education, child development support and much more. In addition, programs and services are continuing to grow and expand. The new Women’s Recovery Center and the new Violence Prevention Center administer programs that safeguard and serve women and their children, protecting families from physical and substance abuse.
When Governor Anoatubby assumed office in 1987, he had a vision to provide quality, accessible health care for Chickasaw citizens. At the time, health care was limited and the tribal budget was small. Since that time, with careful planning, creativity and successful economic development, Governor Anoatubby’s vision has come to fruition.
Today, the Chickasaw Nation serves thousands of Chickasaws from across the country with quality health care programs and services. The Chickasaw Nation Department of Health (CNDH) is a multi-campus health system which consists of five locations including the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, a 370,000 square-foot state-of-the-art health care facility, four clinics, eight pharmacies, four nutrition centers, eight WIC offices and five wellness centers.
CNDH also offers emergency services, diabetes care, dental, imaging, women’s’ health, tribal health programs, therapy and more.
CNDH is continuously motivated to expanding services and offering new technologies to support the ongoing needs of the Native American community. New technology like Virtual Medical Visit allows patients to “visit” a doctor without leaving the home and enhances access and convenience of care.
Upon being elected Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Bill Anoatubby and his team developed a plan to focus the tribe’s attention on meeting the needs of the Chickasaw people. A crucial point of this plan was to provide citizens access to quality, affordable housing.
Governor Anoatubby believes affordable housing is an essential piece of having a quality standard of living. Housing programs and services now available to Chickasaw citizens include homeownership programs, counseling and loan services, down payment and closing cost assistance, a home improvement grant, rehabilitation programs, rental programs and a storm shelter program. The Chickasaw Nation has installed nearly 4,700 storm shelters and facilitated nearly $155 million in loans to more than 1,400 families.
Children are the future. This is the reason Governor Anoatubby emphasizes the growth and development of the tribe’s children and youth. He focuses tremendous effort on fulfilling the potential of young Chickasaws, one of the tribe’s most valuable resources.
Governor Anoatubby has devoted numerous programs and services to offer Chickasaw youth opportunities to develop healthy and balanced lives. Unique and exciting programs abound for young Chickasaws, including 26 camps, clinics and academies specifically designed for Chickasaw youth to stay active, experience their culture and enhance their skills and knowledge.
Governor Anoatubby championed the development of the tribe’s STEM Academy, one of the first of its kind, to encourage youth to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. The tribe’s child development centers and various learning enhancement programs encourage early development in our youth which will benefit them throughout their lives.
Examples of his commitment to Chickasaw children and youth are found throughout the tribe. His goal is to empower young Chickasaws and create a legacy of educated, well-rounded Chickasaws citizens.
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