Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby takes oath of office

Today’s inauguration of Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby was a historic event. The 11 a.m. ceremony at the Chickasaw Community Center marked the beginning of his unprecedented seventh consecutive term.

Gov. Anoatubby is the first governor of the Chickasaw Nation to be reelected twice without an opponent.

“The Chickasaw Nation has seen great success over the previous decades. We have met many of our goals, but we continue to set new goals,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Through hard work and perseverance, working together as Chickasaw people, we will continue to make progress.

Gov. Anoatubby has overseen tremendous growth in tribal budgets as well as services to the Chickasaw people. Since he was first elected governor in 1987, the tribe’s annual operating budget has grown from $11 million to more than $750 million. The number of tribal employees has grown from 250 to more than 10,800.

This past year, tribal businesses invested more than $12 million each month into programs and services for Chickasaw people.

“These additional funds have enabled us to improve education, health care, housing, elder care, youth and family services,” said Governor Anoatubby. “All of our divisions continue to offer more and better opportunities to the Chickasaw people.”

This past year, more than $15 million was awarded to Chickasaw students in the way of scholarships, incentives and grants. That is more than twice the amount for similar services in 2007, the first year of his most recent term. Housing expenditures now total more than $20 million annually, with almost half of that total coming from tribal business proceeds.

During Gov. Anoatubby’s most recent term he oversaw the opening of the 370,000 square-foot Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada. Opening of the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Okla. and development of a Chickasaw language app for the iphone and other Apple devices are among accomplishments related to revitalization of Chickasaw language and culture.

Other accomplishments of this term include a sick child care center in Ada and completion of the tribe’s first full-length feature film, “Pearl,” which tells the story of Chickasaw aviatrix Pearl Carter Scott.

Other officials taking the oath of office include Lt. Gov. Jefferson Keel, tribal legislators Katie Case, Dean McManus, Connie Barker, Steven E. Woods and tribal Supreme Court Justice Cheri Bellefeuille-Gordon.

All elected officials are incumbents who retained their offices during the July 26 election.

The Chickasaw Nation Legislature is composed of 13 members, elected from the Pickens, Pontotoc, Tishomingo and Panola districts. Each legislator is elected to a three-year term. Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court Justices also serve three-year terms.

Legislative and judicial elections are conducted each year, with approximately one-third of the seats up for election each year.

The governor and lt. governor serve a four-year term of office and run for election as a team.

State Rep. Lisa Johnson-Billy, a former member of the Chickasaw Nation legislature, served as master of ceremonies for the event.