10-3-05 - During an address in which he was interrupted by applause more than a dozen times, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby announced that “the state of the Chickasaw Nation has never been better than it is right now.”
After outlining successes in education, family services, housing, health care and senior services, Gov. Anoatubby outlined several new tribal initiatives.
Tribal higher education helped more than 1,300 Chickasaw students with grants and scholarships totaling more than $3 million.
More than 7,400 younger students attended a variety of educational summer camps, while more than 8,500 students across the United States have benefited from the Governor’s Honor Club, a program to recognize and reward high academic achievement.
Stating that “our nation can only be strong if our families are strong,” Gov. Anoatubby recounted the success of family services offering marriage counseling, relationship enhancement programs and foster care and adoption services.
Chuka Chukmasi, a home loan program, closed 55 mortgages totaling 44.7 million. More than 50 homes were constructed for Chickasaw families in the past year, and 44 additional homes are currently under construction.
New initiatives for the future include expanded health care services, the development of a career development and job training program, a tribally-sponsored census, expanding programs and services for citizens living outside the traditional boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation and establishing a Chickasaw publishing operation.
Gov. Anoatubby received a thunderous round of applause when he announced that tribal health system officials are evaluating how to expand the existing 130,000 square foot Carl Albert Indian Health Facility.
Plans are for the expanded facility to almost triple in size to approximately 370,000 square feet, as well as adding more doctors, nurses and support personnel.
Additional services provided at the new facility will include increased inpatient beds, a women’s health care center, expanded ambulatory surgery, increased diagnostic services (such as CT Scans and mammography), as well as greatly expanded outpatient service spaces.(including dental and eye care services).
It is estimated to take approximately three years to complete the project.
A proposed career development and job training program is intended “to provide an opportunity for any Chickasaw who wants to come to work for the tribe to do so,” said Governor Anoatubby. He added that “for this program to succeed, each participant must prepare themselves, and reach the education and knowledge skill levels that are needed for our 21st century tribe.”
Nearly 2,000 jobs were created by the tribe in the previous year and it is expected more than 1,000 new jobs will be added in the coming year.
Through Chickasaw Nation Industries, the tribe employs people in 48 states. Success of tribal businesses has enabled the tribe to greatly expand programs and services. Continued growth of tribal businesses is also the basis for a plan to expend up to $10 million in tribal funds for programs and services for Chickasaws living outside the boundaries of the Chickasaw Nation.
Programs will focus on health, education and employment, with other options to be explored as plans progress. A biography of the late Chickasaw aviatrix Pearl Carter Scott, titled Never Give Up, will be the first book published by the Chickasaw Press.
This publishing company will enable the tribe to print books of importance to the Chickasaw people, including children’s stories, biographies, history, poetry and geographical information.
In a related project, the tribe is creating a series of publication awards to recognize a variety of scholarly writings.
“Under the program we will make awards to encourage master’s theses, dissertations, columns, books and stories that will explore the depths of our history and culture, especially in areas that are yet to be explored,” said Gov. Anoatubby.
A center for the study of Chickasaw culture and history will be built as part of the Chickasaw Cultural Center under construction near Sulphur, Okla.
“This center will be the ultimate resource for materials relating to everything that is Chickasaw,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “This project is a massive undertaking involving not only the special design of the facility, but in gathering materials for study that date back hundreds and perhaps even thousands of years.”
Gov. Anoatubby also recognized the contribution of the many Chickasaw citizens and employees who are currently serving in the military overseas.
Another highlight of the address was recognition of the Chickasaw Nation Search and Rescue Team, who accounted for 67 live rescues during their time in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina.