Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said during his Oct. 1 State of the Nation address that the Chickasaw people have reason to celebrate.
“Our story continues to be one of progress and growth,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We celebrate our ability to steadily move forward as we pay tribute to our past and learn from our history. As I have said in years past, and hope to say for years to come…the state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong!”
Gov. Anoatubby delivered the address to more than 1,000 in Fletcher Auditorium and adjacent overflow tent on the campus of Murray State College.
History and Culture
Opening his remarks with a greeting in the Chickasaw language, he spoke about the importance of honoring past accomplishments and preserving the Chickasaw language and culture.
A language application for the iPhone was introduced this year. The free language app download enables users to access thousands of words and phrases, as well as Chickasaw hymns and videos of skits performed by members of the Children Speaking Chickasaw club.
Other language initiatives include the master-apprentice program and language classes at Byng High School and East Central University.
A new Holisso Research Center opened this year on the campus of the Chickasaw Cultural Center. This Smithsonian-caliber facility designed to preserve manuscripts, books, articles and artifacts has already amassed more than 6,000 artifacts and 100 rare books.
Gov. Anoatubby reported that Chickasaw Nation businesses continue to grow, recording their highest ever monthly net income. Year-to-date income is more than 17 percent ahead of this time last year.
Building on that success, the tribe continues to invest in new businesses and expand existing ones.
“We are making several improvements to WinStar, the world’s third largest casino, in order to continue the growth of our tribal economic base,” said Gov. Anoatubby.
WinStar Golf Course opened a new golf academy, which includes two PGA TOUR® AboutGolf Simulating Studios, two indoor outdoor practice bays, eight covered outdoor practice bays, custom club fitting and more. A 54,000 square foot expansion of the casino and a two-story parking garage are also nearing completion. A family water parks is in the planning stages.
Global Gaming Solutions, a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, became the new owner of Lone Star Park in Texas this summer.
Based on the success at Remington Park, where the tribe has increased attendance and revenue, Gov. Anoatubby said that he expects to help reenergize Lone Star Park and horse racing in Texas.
Business diversification efforts also included the opening of the Sovereign Family Medical Practice in Ada in July. This medical clinic provides for Chickasaw Nation employees and family members who are not eligible for services at other health clinics.
Construction of the Artesian Hotel in Sulphur, which is scheduled for completion in early 2013, marks a commitment to tourism in Oklahoma.
“The Artesian hotel will be a natural complement to the cultural center, the Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Turner Falls and other attractions in the area,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “This hotel is part of a significant investment we are making in the tourism industry in this region and in the state.
“Oklahoma tourism continues to grow. Tourism is a business that benefits everyone from restaurants and retail shops to convenience stores and farmers’ markets. There is every reason to believe that investment in tourism will benefit the tribal, local and state economy far into the future.”
That investment includes construction of a new Bedré Chocolate factory at the intersection of State Highway 7 and Interstate 35. A welcome center designed to feature Chickasaw Nation attractions will also be built at the site.
A visitor center will be built across the street from the Artesian on the corner of State Highway 7 and State Highway 177 near the entrance to the Chickasaw National Recreation Area.
“This visitor’s center will provide an excellent venue to encourage people to discover all the natural beauty, history and hospitality of this area,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Our historical connection with the Sulphur area dates back more than 170 years, and we want to share that story with the world as well.”
The Chickasaw National Recreation Area is the only national park area in the U.S. established at the request of an Indian tribe. It was established after the Chickasaw and Choctaw Nations transferred the land to the U.S. with the understanding that it would be preserved and protected for future generations.
The Chickasaw Nation also has a significant historical connection with Boggy Depot, which led the tribe to assume operation of Boggy Depot State Park when it was scheduled to close due to state budget cuts.
Success of businesses has enabled the tribe to continue its commitment to expanding programs and services.
“The Chickasaw Nation has made unprecedented progress over the years, and this year was no different. Every program and service is designed to provide opportunity for us to improve our lives,” said Gov. Anoatubby, adding that health care has always been a high priority for the Chickasaw people and his administration.
Soon after celebrating the one-year anniversary of the new 370,000-square-foot Chickasaw Nation Medical Center in Ada, construction began on new medical clinics in Tishomingo and Ardmore.
The 66,000-square-foot clinic in Ardmore will be six times larger than the original building, while the 53,000-square-foot clinic in Tishomingo will be more than four times larger than the current clinic. The expanded clinics will feature more staff and increased services.
The tribe also expanded services to seniors with the opening of the first Chickasaw Elder Independent Living Apartments in Ardmore. Designed to feel more like homes than apartments, each of the eight units includes one bedroom, one bath and a full kitchen with all appliances. Priority will be given to low-income Chickasaw elders.
Construction of new senior sites is underway in Ardmore and Connerville. A new senior nutrition site is scheduled to open soon in Colbert, Okla.
“Ensuring our citizens receive a quality education is one of the best ways to prepare our tribe for the future,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Education continues to be a top priority.”
In the past year, the Chickasaw Nation awarded more than $14 million in grants, scholarships, incentives and other educational assistance to Chickasaw students.
This year marked the opening of the Chickasaw Nation Science, Technology and Math Academy. This new facility will house the FIRST Robotics team, LEGO League and other programs designed to encourage learning in science, math and technology.
This year, more than 1,500 young people took part in camps and academies designed to educate and inspire. These camps and academies include leadership development, culture, sports, science and math, entrepreneurship, the environment, and the arts.
“We strive to provide opportunities to our youth that will empower them with character, with confidence and belief in themselves that with integrity, hard work and perseverance, they will be successful,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Today’s children are tomorrow’s leaders. It is incumbent upon us to prepare them to lead our great nation into the next century.
“If we do that job well, the state of the Chickasaw Nation will remain strong for generations to come.”