TISHOMINGO, Okla. – As Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby delivered his Oct. 7 State of the Nation address at the Aiitafama' Ishto (Large Gathering Place), he reflected on the advances the Chickasaw Nation has made since ratifying its modern constitution four decades ago.
“The 40th anniversary of our constitution is a celebration of our foundation, the very foundation from which we have collectively built the modern Chickasaw Nation,” said Governor Anoatubby, adding that the Chickasaw Nation's growth and success over the years comes in large part “from the deeply rooted commitment, passion and resilience of our people.”
Ratified in 1983, the tribe’s constitution enables the Chickasaw Nation to exercise its sovereignty more effectively.
Throughout the past four decades the Chickasaw Nation has systematically built a diverse and successful business portfolio which provides funding for more than 200 programs and services, including education, health care, housing, aging, veterans, and more.
Chickasaw Nation business diversification and economic development efforts have brought new jobs and other financial benefits to Chickasaws and their neighbors across Oklahoma.
“Our diversification strategy has clearly produced strong results, and we want that to continue,” said Governor Anoatubby, before detailing a wide range of significant new economic developments.
Each year the Chickasaw Nation contributes more than $5.5 billion to the Oklahoma economy, supporting more than 34,400 jobs and $1.8 billion in wages and benefits.
The Chickasaw Nation operates more than 100 successful businesses in gaming, hospitality, banking, manufacturing, chocolate and other industries, and directly employs more than 14,000 workers.
In fiscal year 2023, Chickasaw Nation net assets increased by approximately 11% over the same period last year, and business revenues increased to more than $1.5 billion.
“Our businesses achieved record-setting revenues again this year,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Continued success has enabled the tribe to invest in new ventures, including an anchor investment in Good Springs Capital, LLP, this year. The firm focuses on investing in profitable founder and entrepreneur-led companies with high potential for continued growth. The investment represents the next step in facilitating future economic diversification, he said.
Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI), headquartered in Norman, is a federally chartered corporation wholly owned by the Chickasaw Nation engaged in several lines of business for both the federal government and commercial enterprises. CNI continues to grow in revenue and profitability, and recently purchased Washington Business Dynamics, a consulting firm.
Governor Anoatubby detailed a wide range of new commercial developments, including the opening of West Bay Resort, Kingston, and significant additions at WinStar World Resort, Thackerville. Construction on the OKANA resort hotel, located in the Horizons District near the First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City, continues.
“The incredible success of our businesses enables us to accelerate the execution of our long-term, economic diversification plans and will result in increased funding for tribal programs and services.”
Programs and services, many built due to direct feedback from the Chickasaw people, continue to grow, including housing, which marked significant milestones this year.
At the Hilltop Meadow addition, Ada, 59 homes were completed and an additional 27 lots are slated for future construction. Additional home construction is planned in Pontotoc, Carter and Murray counties. Building these new neighborhoods also includes improvements to streets, sidewalks and other critical infrastructure.
Collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies is important to the success of initiatives that impact Chickasaws and our neighbors. This year, the Chickasaw Nation completed more than 42 miles of roadway improvements across eight counties, and 15 road and bridge projects are in the planning phase.
Recent court rulings have significantly expanded our criminal justice responsibilities. Therefore, we have forged more than 75 cross-deputation agreements with local, county, state and federal law enforcement to enhance public safety.
The Chickasaw Nation also collaborates with numerous colleges and universities, providing opportunities for success.
This year, the tribe’s partnership with Oklahoma Christian University resulted in nearly 40 department of health employees earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Through a partnership with Murray State College and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, renovations to Chickasaw Hall will transform the 1917 building into a boutique hotel and create space for the Chickasaw Nation Chokka Kilimpi` Recruitment and Retention Program, which operates on several campuses across the state.
A collaboration with the First Americans Museum, Oklahoma City, to develop a publicly accessible online curriculum for secondary school educators was also launched this year.
Our partnership with the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma helps address food insecurity by providing monthly boxes of food to nearly 1,700 Chickasaw children through the Packed Promise Program. Impa’ chi (Let’s Eat) Meals for Kids delivered nearly 134,000 meals to children this summer with the assistance of hundreds of schools and communities.
The Chickasaw Nation WIC program served more than 4,000 eligible women, infants and young children and partnered with experts to launch a WIC online shopping service, the first of its kind in the United States.
We work closely with local, county and state governments to ensure sustainable management and proper stewardship of our water and other natural resources.
“Every community relies on clean and sustainable water to foster economic growth and ensure community resilience. We are committed to working with our communities to prepare for tomorrow’s challenges.”
Collaborations are underway to improve water infrastructure in the cities of Sulphur, Tishomingo, Mill Creek and Lone Grove.
“These partnerships and cross-deputations are an example of how governments can work together, successfully, for the betterment of the people that we all serve,” Governor Anoatubby said. “This work highlights commitment and shared vision to work together with local, state and federal partners to shape a brighter future for all who call the Chickasaw Nation home.”
Education and Youth
Education has historically been one of the Chickasaw Nation’s highest priorities, and a variety of resources are available to those we serve, ranging from child development centers to adult learning programs.
This year, more than 5,500 Chickasaw students received more than $29.3 million in grants and scholarships.
The Chickasaw Nation operates three Head Start centers and one preschool, as well as child development centers in Ardmore and Ada. Construction is underway for a second child development center in Ada, and facilities in Tishomingo and Purcell are planned.
More than 800 Chickasaw youth received career development training through the Toksali SMART program this year. A variety of community partnerships provided youth with meaningful job experiences and skill development.
The Chickasaw Institute of Technology (CIT), Ada, which offers training in technical trade programs, has graduated 187 Chickasaws since it was established in 2019.
Honoring Elders and Veterans
Many programs are offered to enhance the lives of Chickasaw elders, including operation of 12 senior centers in communities throughout southern Oklahoma. These senior centers served more than 120,000 meals and offered programs which focus on fellowship and health this year.
The Chickasaw Honor Guard marks 30 years of service this year. The guard currently has 16 active members who provided services at nearly 150 events this year.
The Chickasaw Nation offers support and programs for Chickasaw veterans through the Chickasaw Warrior Society. Chickasaw veterans can access services and benefits, as well as fellowship with one another, at the veteran’s lodge in Ada.
Tribal cultural programs include a new online genealogy request portal, as well as the Chickasaw Language Basics app, AChickasawDictionary.com, Rosetta Stone Chickasaw, Chikasha Adult Immersion Academy and language clubs for all ages, as well as cultural enrichment family camp.
This winter, a juried art show and market to support Chickasaw and First American artists, called Hushtola, will debut at WinStar World Resort.
The Chickasaw Press has launched a new imprint this year, Leaning Pole Press, and has recently released four new titles.
In conclusion, Governor Anoatubby reported the state of the Chickasaw Nation is strong and getting stronger.
“Together, we will continue to build a future even more promising than our present, ensuring that the Chickasaw Nation is, and will remain, unconquered and unconquerable.”