Anoatubby delivers State of Nation address

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby reports the state of the Chickasaw Nation is “strong because the people are strong” during his annual address Oct. 5 at the Chickasaw Nation Annual Meeting at Murray State College in Tishomingo. The meeting capped a week of Chickasaw events and celebrations during the Chickasaw Nation Annual Meeting and Festival.

During his annual State of the Nation address, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby said that advances in economic development, cultural preservation and community services have enhanced the lives of the Chickasaw people.

“The Chickasaw Nation is strong, because the Chickasaw people are strong,” said Anoatubby. “Chickasaw people are achieving new levels of personal success that allows them to have a positive impact on the lives of others. We believe it is vital to lift up our fellow Chickasaws and our neighbors.”

Anoatubby delivered the address Saturday to a standing-room-only crowd in Fletcher Auditorium, as well as an adjacent overflow tent on the Murray State College campus. A live stream of the address was available online.

Business development

In 2019, Chickasaw Nation businesses achieved record revenues and profits. This fiscal year, net profits from core business operations have increased by 15%, while net assets grew by 11%.

“Our commitment to financial stability, accountability and responsible stewardship makes our nation strong,” said Anoatubby. “As our businesses have prospered, we have also been able to invest in new opportunities and diversify our portfolio.”

Chickasaw Nation Industries, a federally chartered corporation established in 1996 for $50,000, now has revenues of more than $350 million annually.

“CNI is on track to reach another record for revenue this fiscal year, and even conservative estimates indicate that since 2015, CNI has grown 75 percent,” said Anoatubby. “Part of that growth is Filtra-Systems and their SCOUT mobile filtration system, which has the potential to revolutionize the oil and gas industry, and its voyager community water treatment system, which will solve challenges of rural communities throughout the United States.”

This cost-efficient, environmentally friendly system is expanding into new markets and reduces the demand on streams and aquifers. The CNI manufacturing plant in Marietta has operated at record levels to keep up with the demand for its products.

The Chickasaw Nation purchased the facility in 2004, when previous owner Siemens announced it would close the 100,000-square-foot metal fabricating plant. Keeping the facility open saved dozens of local jobs, and employment has increased since.

Community

“We work to ensure business diversification and economic development includes a focus on local communities,” said Anoatubby. “We have worked hard to be good neighbors. We continue to partner with communities to provide vital resources and infrastructure that benefit all Oklahomans.

“In the modern world, perhaps the most important infrastructure resource is fast, reliable internet. Trace Fiber Networks is bridging the technology gap affecting small towns and rural communities within Chickasaw Country by building a reliable fiber-optic network.”

To date, Chickasaw Nation-owned Trace Fiber Networks has installed nearly 180 miles of buried fiber-optic cable. Once completed, the nearly 500-mile fiber-optic network will connect over 40 communities and schools. This network will provide unsurpassed speed and connectivity to offices, schools, hospitals, clinics, libraries and homes, as well as more than 100 Chickasaw Nation-owned businesses.

“Our commitment to build community and partnerships with our neighbors makes our nation strong.,” said Anoatubby. “We have worked hard to be good neighbors. Our roads program continues to partner with local governments to improve local streets, highways, county roads and bridges.”

This year alone, the Chickasaw Nation committed more than $6 million to joint projects to resurface or construct 22 miles of roadway.

In Tishomingo, the Chickasaw Nation is working closely with the city to improve the municipal water infrastructure.

Since it was re-established 15 years ago, the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department has worked closely with local, state and federal agencies. To date, the Lighthorse Police has 48 cross-deputation agreements with city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, allowing them to work together to protect and serve our communities.

Recently, the Chickasaw Nation WIC program launched a mobile unit to travel to remote rural sites, making WIC services accessible to residents in those areas.

Education

Growth in business revenues benefits education services in several areas, including increases in the amount of scholarships and textbook grants.

“This past year, we invested more than $25 million in scholarships, grants and other forms of financial support to more than 5,400 Chickasaw students, Anoatubby said.

The tribe increased the amount of scholarships for tuition, the number of credit hours funded per semester and the amount of the text book grant. This fall, a higher education grant was introduced to help with tuition and enrollment fees.

Earlier this year, the Chickasaw Nation completed a new Head Start facility in Sulphur with increased enrollment capacity. The new facility has four classrooms, a safe room and an expanded playground and cafeteria.

This past year, the Chickasaw Honor Club awarded incentives to more than 2,700 Chickasaw students and distributed nearly 6,700 awards to encourage excellent academic performance.

Training has begun on the Chickasaw Heritage Series Curriculum, which brings Chickasaw history into the classroom.

“The curriculum was developed cooperatively with state educators to meet state academic standards and to share the story of who we are with the next generation of Oklahomans,” said Anoatubby. “This will be the first time that many Oklahoma students will learn about the influential role the Chickasaw Nation played in U.S. and world history.”

Health care

Health care has long been a high priority for the Chickasaw Nation, which operates a hospital, four clinics, eight pharmacies, a diabetes care center, emergency medical services, four nutrition centers, eight WIC offices and five wellness centers.

This year alone, the tribe served more than 970,000 patient encounters, delivered more than 785 babies, filled more than 1.9 million prescriptions, served more than 88,000 meals to children, saw more than 154,000 visits to its wellness centers, served more than 5,300 Chickasaws with eyeglass assistance and served more than 7,000 citizens with financial assistance to help with medical and dental costs.

Through a partnership with Oklahoma State University, the Chickasaw Nation Family Medicine Residency Program Clinic opened on the third floor of the medical center this year.

“The Family Residency Program has both economic and social benefits for our community,” said Anoatubby. “Graduates of medical residency programs tend to settle and establish a practice or become an active provider where they have trained.”

Culture

Revitalizing Chickasaw culture and language is also a high priority. Therefore, the Chickasaw Nation takes a comprehensive approach, which includes the Chickasaw Press, fitness applications, online language lessons, stomp dance and traditional games.

Dozens of young Chickasaws are learning stomp dances through the Chickasaw Young Dancers program. This year, a Chickasaw Nation women’s stickball team was formed and has about 50 members.

Rosetta Stone Chickasaw level 3 was released this year. This new installment of 40 immersive lessons builds on the previous two levels and brings language learners one step closer to fluency.

Since opening in 2010, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has shared Chickasaw culture with more than 820,000 visitors from around the world. The center has also won 13 awards this past fiscal year, including two conservation awards for our monarch butterfly repopulation initiative.

“Our nation is strong because we know who we are and continue to keep our culture, language and traditions alive,” said Anoatubby.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.

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