Bill Anoatubby

Early Life

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.

Chickasaw Nation

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.

As Governor

When Bill Anoatubby was elected governor in 1987, the Chickasaw Nation had 250 employees and $11 million in outlays.

In his first term, Governor Anoatubby established goals of economic development and self-sufficiency for the Chickasaw Nation and its people. Today, the Chickasaw Nation is well on the way to achieving those goals. In 1987, the tribe had about 250 employees. Today, the Chickasaw Nation employs more than 13,500 people.

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 14,000 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.

Personal Life

Bill Anoatubby and his wife, Janice, have two sons, Brian and Chris. Chris and his wife Becky have three children, Brendan, Eryn and Sydney. Brian has two children, Chloe and Preslea.