ADA — During an address interrupted more than 40 times by applause, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby focused on recent progress in education, health, housing and employment.

“Our progress in every area continues to excel, sometimes beyond our expectations,” said Gov. Anoatubby, who added there was simply not enough time to cover all the tribe’s accomplishments.

Noting the recent celebration of the 150th anniversary of its 1856 constitution, Gov. Anoatubby noted that much of the tribe’s progress has come in the last 20 years.

In 20 years the tribe has grown from about 250 employees to 10,570, according to Gov. Anoatubby who said business growth and diversification has been important to that success.

Chickasaw Enterprises employs 6,488 workers and operates 57 businesses, including the state’s two largest casinos.

The 219,000 square foot Riverwind casino, the largest in the state, opened in July. 

Businesses recently opened or under development by Chickasaw Enterprises include the Red River Sand and Gravel Company, the WinStar Golf Course, and the Artesian Hotel.

Gov. Anoatubby credited well trained employees as an essential element in the tribe’s success in all areas from businesses to health care.

Chickasaw Nation Industries illustrates the success of tribal diversification efforts. CNI has developed 12 companies which provide a variety of services to a long list of clients.

While a majority of CNI profits are reinvested, the company returned $1.1 million in dividends to the tribe to fund programs and services.

Plans announced last year to build a new $135 million hospital south of Ada are continuing.

“We plan to have a groundbreaking ceremony for this new, state-of-the-art health care facility in the spring of 2007,” said Gov. Anoatubby.

In 1994, the Chickasaw Nation became the first in the United States to negotiate a compact to manage its own health care system. The Chickasaw Nation Health System consisted of the Carl Albert Indian Health facility in Ada and clinics in Tishomingo and Ardmore.

This past year alone, the CNHS handled more than 336,000 patient visits, administered more than 600,000 clinical tests and filled more than 800,000 prescriptions.

Several advances in education were also highlighted.

More than 2,100 scholarships totaling more than $3 million were awarded to students attending colleges and universities. Approximately $2.8 million of that total came from tribal funds.

New programs have also been created to provide funding for books, clothing and to recognize outstanding student achievement.

Adult Learning programs were also mentioned, including GED training and computer training for elders at 11 senior sites throughout the Chickasaw Nation.

There has also been an expansion of housing programs.

Chuka Chukmasi Home loan program provided 85 mortgage home loans and provided some families help with down payment and closing cost assistance.

A grant program to provide up to $3,000 in down payment and closing cost assistance, a low income home improvement grant and the storm shelter program have all been expanded to serve Chickasaws regardless of where they live.

Accomplishments in helping preserve Chickasaw culture include the first book published by the Chickasaw Press.

A book signing and launch for “Chickasaw: Unconquered and Unconquerable” was conducted later that day.

Somewhat similar to university press operations, the Chickasaw Press publishing company will enable the tribe to print literature of importance to the Chickasaw people.

Proposals to be considered for future publication include scholarly works, children’s stories, biographies, history, poetry and others.

Other cultural achievements include the world premiere of a play about Chickasaw storyteller Te Ata, the completion of a series of portraits of Chickasaw elders by Chickasaw artist Mike Larsen and expansion of language programs.

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