Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Choctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle

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Chief Gregory E. Pyle became Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma in 1997, after serving more than 13 years as the Assistant Chief of the tribe. Chief Pyle has negotiated millions of dollars in new contracts for the tribe, as well as expanded existing programs and initiated many innovative services.

He and his wife, Patti, have been blessed with two children and seven grandchildren. Their home is in Durant, Oklahoma, yet Chief Pyle extends his time and tribal services to communities and Choctaws across the United States.

Recent awards honoring Chief Pyle include being named a Distinguished Alumni and Benefactor for SOSU and being named an Honorary Member of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association. He was selected as a 2007 honoree inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Chief Pyle is very proud that the Choctaw Nation has been named the recipient of the Pro Patria Award and the 2008 Freedom Award.

Other appointments and awards for Chief Pyle include: Receiving the SBA Region VI Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year, several terms as a member on the National Indian Health Board and a year as the elected President of the Oklahoma Area Indian Health Board. He was appointed by former Secretary of Interior Manuel Lujan to serve on a Task Force created to reorganize the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and reappointed two years later by former Secretary of Interior Bruce Babbitt, heading up several subcommittees on the Task Force.

Congressional hearings during the past few years have featured the testimony of Chief Pyle on various subjects, including Code Talkers, sovereignty, Arkansas River Bed and health care.

Under the positive leadership of Chief Pyle, the Choctaw Nation has put families first, with priorities on education, health and jobs. Deep involvement in economic development has resulted in profitable tribal businesses such as gaming centers, manufacturing plants and travel plazas, creating numerous jobs and funding tribal programs.

Accomplishments as Chief of the Choctaw Nation have been numerous for Greg Pyle. Under his leadership, a new hospital has been constructed in Talihina, as well as the Diabetes Wellness Center, clinics in Stigler, McAlester, Atoka and Idabel, a new Hospitality House, new Recovery Center and a new Women’s Treatment Center. The Poteau Clinic has been expanded to include additional health care professionals and a mail-pharmacy refill center.

Since he has been Chief, Independent Living Communities for elderly have been constructed in six towns, several new community centers have been built and the older centers have received additional space and improvements. Four Child Development Centers have been built and tribal businesses have been created.

Education milestones include the Choctaw Language Program and increasing the scholarship program to serve 5,000 students. A new academic building has been built at Jones Academy for the elementary school. A career development program for Choctaws has been initiated to include training at technical institutes.

Chief Pyle’s dedication to the Choctaw people is evident through the many services that are now available.

Assistant Chief Gary Batton

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Gary Batton is the Assistant Chief of the Choctaw Nation. He has been employed with the Tribe since 1987 as purchasing agent. Prior to his appointment in 2007, he served the Tribe in various capacities including Deputy Director of the Choctaw Nation Housing Authority and Executive Director of Health.

While at Housing, Gary was responsible for management of all operations of the Housing Authority and established several programs including the Choctaw Nation Drug Elimination Program, Family Investment Center Program and the Choctaw Nation Boys and Girls Club.

When Gary moved to the Executive Director of Health, the Choctaw Nation Health System was completely transformed. His first directive from Chief Pyle was to replace the Choctaw Nation Hospital, a former TB Center constructed in the 1930s, with the state-of-the-art Choctaw Nation Health Care Center, a 37-bed hospital with a 52-exam room outpatient clinic. Upon completion of construction, the $28 million facility was completely debt free.

Under his management, the health system continued to flourish. The patient load grew from 120,000 to over 240,000 and new clinics were constructed in Idabel, Stigler, McAlester, Broken Bow and Atoka to meet demand and improve accessibility for patients. Additional services including ophthalmology, orthopedics, cardiology, physical therapy and a mail-order pharmacy were added.

Gary developed partnerships with other organizations and governments to add even more services to the health system. Through partnerships with OU Health Sciences Center, ENT services began being offered at Talihina and a program for specialized care for high-risk youth with diabetes was started. A partnership with Eastern Oklahoma State College brought about the establishment of a dental hygienist program. A coalition with the State of Oklahoma and other Oklahoma Tribes led to the establishment of REACH, a program to promote physical activity and reduce the lifetime risks of cardiovascular disease.

Now, as Assistant Chief, Gary is involved in the growth of the entire Choctaw Nation. He continuously looks for ways to improve and expand services. Among his numerous duties, he serves as Chairman of the Choctaw Nation Business Committee where he focuses on adding new businesses and expanding and increasing profitability of current businesses to support Chief Pyle’s priorities of health, education and jobs. When he was appointed, his first initiative was the development of an economic plan that consisted of $385 million in construction to expand the gaming facilities in Durant, Grant, McAlester and Stringtown.

In 2007, four of the existing Tribal businesses were operating in the red. With Assistant Chief’s guidance, all of the Tribal businesses are in the black. Overall, the businesses have shown a 69% increase in profitability and Tribal services continue to grow and evolve.

Assistant Chief Batton and his wife, Angie, have two children, Stacy and David, and two grandchildren.