Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
  • 1830-1857 Apukshunnubbee District


    “Miko (chief) Apuckshunnubbe, we are informed, was the senior Chief to the Choctaw Nation, and upwards of eighty years of age, and was much respected for his virtues.” (Col. Robert Cole was the son of a Captive white man. Robert Cole and a nephew of Apuckshunnubbe, supposedly a son of the Chief’s sister, Shumake).

    Notes o­n Apuckshunnubbe’s Personal Background: According to tribal records, Apuckshunnubbe was born around the year 1740. He and his family occupied a log cabin. He was known to have fathered four children, o­ne of which was a daughter, Tioka. He was a tribal Chieftain as early as 1801, and was o­ne of the signers of the treaties of 1805-1816, and the Doak’s Stand Treaty of 1820. His judgment and wisdom was honored by all that knew him. These descriptive testimonies were given by men of his time who knew him best: “A celebrated chief, he was a famous warrior and orator. In his lifetime his influence was supreme over the entire Nation, even beyond the boundaries of his immediate domain.” Another described him in this manner. “Apuckshunnubbe was a large man, tall and bony, with a down look, and was of the superstitious and religious cast of mind. He was by his people called a good man, and it is said that he was a man of deep thought and that he was quite an intellectual.” Other accounts gave testimony to his interest in the education of this people.

    Apuckshunnubbe’s death in Kentucky in 1824 Submitted by Earl White

    How often have you wondered when reading an article of history, what really brought about the described event? Have you wondered why the subject was at that particular place at that particular time? So it was with me as I scanned old newspaper clippings at our local archives and found the story of Apuckshunnubbe’s accident and death here in Kentucky in 1824.

    Fortunately, with the assistance of Jane Proctor Smith of Tulsa, I have been able to reconstruct the events leading up to the fatal accident in our town. Mrs. Smith is a direct descendant of Apuckshunnubbe. She also supplied me with enough material to describe the remainder of the trip by the others in the company of the old Chieftain and to bring closure to my curiosity.

    Following is this account: In the early autumn months of 1824 three chiefs of the Choctaw Nation came together in the Mississippi Territory to plan a journey to Washington City to protest violations of the Treaty of Doak’s Stand. These Chiefs were Apuckshunnubbe, Pushmataha and Moshulatubbee and they represented the entire Choctaw population. The Doak’s Stand Treaty was formulated to swap a designated area in Mississippi for a much larger tract of land farther west. The Treaty had already been violated by white settlers in the western lands and this was to be the subject of talks with President Monroe in Washington.

    The proposed route to Washington was to travel the Natchez trace to Nashville, then to Lexington, Kentucky, o­nward to Maysville, Kentucky, across the Ohio River (called the Spaylaywitheepi by the Shawnee) northward to Chillicothe, Ohio, (former principal town of the Shawnee), then finally east over the “National Highway” to Washington City.

    Soon afterward, the small delegation took to the Natchez Trace, beginning the arduous trip to the eastern seat of government. The group consisted of Apuckshunnubbe, Pushmataha, Moshulatubbee, Talking Warrior, Red Fort, Nittahkachee, Col. Robert Cole and David Folsom, both half breed Indians, Captain Daniel McCurtain, and Major John Pitchlynn, the U.S. Interpreter.

    Late in the day of October 18th, 1824, a large part of the deputation arrived in Maysville, Kentucky, by stagecoach. They were directed to the establishment of Captain Langhorne for food and lodging. (The present day location of where the establishment stood is the corner of Front and Market Streets).

    According to the report in the Maysville Eagle, “Apuckshunnubbe, the great Medal Chief, after supping at Captain Langhorne’s o­n Wednesday last, in the evening attempted to go to the river, missed his way, and was precipitated over the abutment of the road and received so severe contusions to his head and other injuries, as to render his recovery hopeless. He lingered until Friday night, in a perfectly senseless condition, when his soul winged to the presence of the Great Spirit.

    “Every attention that could possibly be paid to a fellow mortal was rendered the deceased by Capt. Langhorne and his family, and the physicians and other inhabitants of the town. o­n Saturday his remains were accompanied to the Methodist Meeting House by the Maysville light infantry, under Capt. Lee, united by a part of Capt. Nicholson’s troop of horsemen, dismounted, together with the largest coinsures of citizens and strangers to ever assemble in this place for a funeral occasion.

    “A appropriate sermon was preached by the Reverend Corwine after which Miko’s (chief’s) remains were conveyed to the narrow house of the grave, and interred with full military honors.” “After the close of the divine service in the church, an interesting address was given, in his native tongue, by Col. Robert Cole, the successor of Apuckshunnubbe, in which in a most feeling and dignified manner he returned thanks for the honor and friendly feelings shown to the surviving members of the delegation. His interpreter, Mr. Folsom, a half-breed Choctaw, is a man of information and intelligence.

    During Removal: Greenwood LeFlore 1830-1834

    New Territory: Thomas LeFlore 1834 - 1838 James Fletcher 1838 - 1842 Thomas LeFlore 1842 - 1850 George Harkins 1850 - 1857

  • 1830-1857 Moshulatubbee District

    Moshulatubbee District


    1830 - 1834 During Removal 1834 - 1836 New District Choctaw Nuggets by Pat Starbuck

    This was copied from a headstone at Hall Cemetery near Cameron, Oklahoma. It was placed by the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1965.

    Chief Moshulatubbee Amosholi-T-vbi “Warrior Who Perseveres” Born 1770

    Chief Moshulatubbee of Northern district, Choctaw Nation in Mississippi, received his name as a young warrior. He was dignified in bearing, of fine physique, steady and thoughtful in disposition. As Chief he was noted for his orders banning liquor traffic and drinking in his county. He strongly favored education, and a mission school (ABCFM) was located at this prairie village near the Natchez Trace in 1824. Moshulatubbee was o­ne of the three head chiefs who signed the early Choctaw treaties with the United States, including that at Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830, which provided for the removal of the Choctaws from Mississippi. He had high hopes in coming west with his people in 1832, and made his new home in LeFlore County. He died at his home and was buried nearby, his grave covered in unmarked stones. The region from the Arkansas River to the Winding Stair Mountains was called Moshulatubbee District in law books of the Choctaw Nation, 1834 to 1907.

    Joseph Kincaid 1836 - 1838

    John McKinney 1838 - 1842

    Nathaniel Folsom 1842 - 1846

    Peter Folsom 1846 - 1850

    Cornelius McCurtain 1850 - 1854

    David McCoy 1854 - 1857

  • 1830-1857 Pushmataha District

    1830-1857 Pushmataha District

    pushmataha Pushmataha

    The hero of the Choctaws, and without doubt o­ne of the greatest of all American Indians, was A-Push-ma-ta-ha-hu-bi, commonly known as Pushmataha. His full name is said to mean “His arm and all the weapons in his hands are fatal to his foes.” He was born about 1764 in the present State of Mississippi. Little or nothing is known of his ancestry or of his early youth. His parents are supposed to have been killed by the Creeks, which accounted in part for Pushmataha’s hatred for that tribe. When questioned as to his ancestry he generally said, “I am a Choctaw.” In a boastful mood, he o­nce made this poetic statement: “Pushmataha has no ancestors; the sun was his father, the moon, his mother. A mighty storm swept the earth; midst the roar of thunder, the lightning split a mighty oak and Pushmataha stepped forth a full fledged warrior,” especially against the Osages. o­n more than o­ne occasion he pursued these enemies far beyond the western banks of the Great River. He thus became familiar with the land of Oklahoma, where later his people were to come, and knowing its value, he did not, as some others, oppose the removal of the Choctaws from Mississippi.

    In personal appearance he was every inch a chief. He was of the purest of Indian blood, six feet, two inches tall and robust in proportion to his height, with form and features finely modeled. His deportment was calm and dignified. The Indians sometimes called him the “Panther’s Claw.” He was by nature a leader among men, and not alone in his own tribe. No Indian of his day was so highly respected by white men, as was Pushmataha. He possessed wonderful powers as an orator. General Sam Dale, the famous Indian fighter, who heard Pushmataha’s appeal against Tecumseh, declared him to be the greatest orator he ever heard. The Indian’s picturesque word for Pushmataha’s flow of language was the “waterfalls.

    Pushmataha was ever and constantly a friend of the Americans. Some historians give him credit equal to that of the renowned Andrew Jackson in saving our Southern States to the United States in the War of 1812. The wily Shawnee, Tecumseh, having already united the Indians of the upper Mississippi Valley, came south with the purpose of adding the Muskogean tribes to his confederacy. At a great meeting of the Choctaws and Chickasaws o­n the Tombigbee near the present site of Columbia, Mississippi, Tecumseh hade an earnest and impassioned appeal and had almost won the day, when Pushmataha arose and made his memorable reply, which was so eloquent and so convincing that o­nly thirty warriors of these tribes joined Tecumseh. Therefore, when Jackson led his army against the Creeks in 1813, finally overwhelming them at the battle of Horseshoe Bend, Pushmataha and seven hundred of his warriors rendered efficient and valiant service. And when a year later at New Orleans, the Americans faced the British veterans who had won fame o­n the fields of Europe, Pushmataha, now a brigadier-general of the American army, led eight hundred brave Choctaws to share in Jackson’s triumph.

    Pushmataha spent the remainder of his life working in the interest of his people. When the treaty of 1820 was negotiated, which provided for the sale of their lands in Mississippi and the eventual removal to Oklahoma. Pushmataha insisted that a large sum be set aside as a perpetual school fund for the education of Choctaw youth. His comment o­n this treaty was almost a prophecy: “We have acquired from the United States her best remaining territory west of the Mississippi, and this treaty provides a perpetual fund for the education of our children. I predict that in a few generations its benefits will enable the Choctaws to fight in the white man’s armies and to hold office in the white man’s government.” It may be stated, parenthetically, that for the past twenty years the Choctaw section of Oklahoma has been represented in Congress by a statesman of Indian blood.

    In 1824, Pushmataha went to Washington o­n business for the Choctaws, the last service he ever rendered. In his address to the Secretary of War o­n this occasion he said. “I can boast and tell the truth that none of the Choctaws ever drew bow against the United States. We have held the hand of the United States so long that our nails are long like birds claws.”

    While in Washington he contracted pneumonia, and died December 24, 1824. General Jackson visited him in his last illness and asked what he could do for him. Pushmataha replied, “When I die, let the big gun be fired over me.” He was given the funeral of a general of the United States army and his remains buried in the Congressional Cemetery at Washington, where his modest monument may be seen today.

    The life and character of Pushmataha has been thus summed up; “A man with intuitive conception of honor and morals. A great general, brave and intrepid, a renowned orator, wise in counsel, a safe law giver, loyal in friendship and possessing a notable rugged honesty.” Any man, white or red, might well be proud of such a tribute!

    During Removal

    Nitakechi or Nitukechi 1830-1834

    New Territory

    Nitakechi 1834 - 1838

    Pierre Juzan 1841 - 1846

    Isaac Folsom 1841 - 1846

    Nitakechi Died

    Silas Fisher 1846 - 1850

    George Folsom 1850 - 1854

    David McCoy 1854 - 1857

  • 1857 - Alfred Wade

    Alfred Wade

    1857 - 1858

    Sworn in as the first Governor of the Choctaw Nation in October, 1857, at Bogy depot, for a term of two years. Student of Choctaw Academy. Born in Mississippi and emigrated to LeFlore County. Alfred Wade was the son of John Wade. Brothers: Henry, Alex, Jerry, Ellis, Cunningham and Kennedy.

  • 1858 - Tandy Walker

    Tandy Walker twalker 1858 - 1859

    Tandy Walker was a Confederate military commander during the Civil War. A mixed-blood Choctaw, he was born in Mississippi in 1814. As a lieutenant colonel in 1861, Walker, a former governor of the Choctaw Nation, Indian Territory, was second in command to Col. Douglas H. Cooper of the First Regiment of Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. Walker became a colonel and took command of the regiment in January 1863 after Cooper was promoted to brigadier general.

    In early 1864 Walker’s regiment as reorganized as the Second Indian Cavalry Brigade consisting of his Choctaw and Chickasaw troops and a reserve unit of Caddo Indians. Walker was a capable and highly respected officer. His troops played vital roles in the Confederate victories at Newtonia, Missouri, in September 1862 and at Poison Spring, Arkansas, in April 1864. Tandy Walker died in 1877 at Skullyville in present LeFlore County, Oklahoma.

  • 1859 - Basil Leflore

    Basil Leflore

    1859 - 1860

  • 1860 - George Hudson

    George Hudson ghudson 1860 - 1862

    Little is known of some of the former Chiefs of the Choctaw Nation. George Hudson, the First principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation under the Doaksville Constitution, was born in Mississippi in 1808. Nothing is known of his father, a white man. His mother, a full blood Choctaw, appears o­n the 1831, Rolls as Widow Hudson.

    The Hudson family departed from Mississippi for Indian Territory with the first removal party. George’s mother passed away en-route, o­ne of the many who did not survive the long, sad journey of the Trail of Tears. George settled o­n lands about a mile west of Eagletown and became a farmer. This part of Indian Territory remained his home until his death.

    Although he had very few educational advantages, he practiced law before the tribal courts, served as a member of the Choctaw Council, and served as presiding officer at the Constitutional Convention at Doaksville in 1860. In October 1860, George Hudson was elected Chief of the Choctaws and served until October 1862. After his attempt and failure to succeed himself as Chief he retired to his home o­n Mountain Fork River. Information from Thumbnail Sketches of Choctaw Chiefs, compiled by Mary C. Park.

  • 1862 - Samuel Garland

    Samuel Garland sgarland 1862 - 1864

    Samuel Garland, son of John Garland, was born in Jasper County, Mississippi in December 1803. After receiving his education at the Choctaw Academy in Kentucky he returned to Mississippi and married Mary, daughter of Major John Pitchlynn and Sophia Folsom. Mary was a younger sister of Peter P. Pitchlynn. Upon the death of his father-in-law, John Pitchlynn, Sammuel Garland brought his family to Indian Territory and settled at Tom in McCurtain County. He erected a palatial southern home o­n 600 acres of Red River bottomland.

    Although he had o­nly a minor interest in tribal affairs he was an ardent admirer of Peter P. Pitchlynn, his brother-in-law, and supported Peter’s efforts o­n the Net Proceeds Treaty. He accompanied Peter P. Pitchlynn.

    Chief Garland passed away at his home May 20, 1870, and was buried in the family burial plot o­n his plantation.

  • 1864 - Peter Pitchlynn

    Peter Pitchlynn ppitchlynn 1864 - 1866

    Peter P. Pitchlynn was born in Noxubee County, Mississippi, January 30, 1806. His parents were Colonel John Pitchlynn, a white man, and Sophia Folsom, a Choctaw. He began his education by attending a Tennessee boarding school located about 200 miles from his home in Mississippi. Later he attended an Academy in Columbia, Tennessee. To complete his education he became a graduate of the University of Nashville. After he obtained his degree he returned to his home in Mississippi and became a farmer.

    His first act was to erect a comfortable log cabin so he could marry Rhonda Folsom, his first cousin. Reverend Cyrus Kings bury, a missionary, performed the ceremony. After his first wife’s death, Peter married a widow, Mrs. Caroline Lombardy. Pitchlynn was instrumental in closing all the shops selling liquor to the Indians in Mississippi.

    As a Council member he proposed the establishment of a school for Choctaw Children to be located in Kentucky. Because of his efforts the Choctaw Academy became a reality. He was also the forerunner of the removal of the Indian tribes to Indian Territory. The Choctaws looked upon him as their philosopher and friend. He represented them in Washington for many years.

    Peter P. Pitchlynn was elected Principal Chief of the Choctaws in 1864 and served until 1866. After his tenure he retired in Washington, D. C. and devoted his attention to pressing the Choctaw claims for lands sold to the United States in 1830. In addition to being a regular attendant of the Lutheran Church, he was also a prominent member of the Masonic Order.

    He passed away January 17, 1881 in Washington, D. C. He is buried in the Congressional Cemetery where an impressive marker was erected over his grave by a grateful Choctaw Nation.

  • 1866 - Allen Wright

    Allen Wright

    1866 - 1870

    Allen Wright was born in Attla County, Mississippi in November 1826. Known as Kilihote in his native language he was orphaned at the age of 13. He went to live with Reverend Cyrus Kingsbury and attended Pine Ridge Mission School near Doaksville. After four years there he entered the major tribal school, Spencer Academy. Later he attended Delaware College, Union College in New York and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. After completion of his studies he was ordained by the Presbyterian Church. He was the principal instructor at Armstrong Academy during the 1855-1856 school term. He married Harriet Newell Mitchell of Ohio in 1857.

    Allen Wright became a member of the Choctaw Council in 1856, was elected treasurer of the Choctaw Nation in 1859, and under a new constitution he became a member of the Choctaw Council in 1861. During the Civil War the Choctaws joined forces with the Confederate Army. Because of their allegiance with the South they renounced all of its previous treaties with the United States. At the close of the war the tribe was in poverty and it was Allen Wright’s job as Principal Chief, to negotiate a new treaty with the United States and try to reorganize a badly split tribe.

    He was elected Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1866 and served until 1870. Some of his accomplishments included translating the laws of the Chickasaw Nation from English into their native language, Compiling a Choctaw dictionary for use in tribal schools, translating the book of Psalms from Hebrew into Choctaw, was editor of the Indian Chapion, and was a charter member of the first Masonic Lodge in Oklahoma. Chief Wright passed away December 2, 1885 and was buried at Boggy Depot in Atoka County.

  • 1870 - William Bryant

    William Bryant wbryant 1870 - 1874

    William Bryant was born in Mississippi in the early 1800’s. The exact date is unknown. Research failed to find who his parents were o­nly that his father was a white man. Like most of the Mississippi Choctaw boys he attended neighborhood schools during his early childhood. Then in 1829 he was sent to the state of Kentucky to attend the Choctaw Academy.

    Chief Bryant came to Indian Territory about 1840 and settled in Red River County near Water Hole Church. From there he located at Octavia in McCurtain County. He was soon active in tribal affairs. He became a member of the Choctaw Council in 1844, was a delegate to the Creek Convention in 1861 and was elected Supreme District Judge in 1865. He was also a member of the Masonic Lodge.

    Bryant was elected Principal Chief of the Choctaws in 1870. In 1872 he ran for a second term against Turner B. Turnbull and won by a large majority. His third attempt to serve, as chief was not successful. In 1876 he ran against Coleman Cole and Allen Wright. Cole was victorious over the other men. During Bryant’s term of office he moved near Wilburton. In Addition to his duties as chief he acted as postmaster at Pleasant Ridge. The post office has since been discontinued. After he retired from office Chief Bryant moved near Tushka Homma. The exact date of his death was not found o­nly that he died at Tushka Homma and was buried two miles east of there in the vicinity of old Spring Station.

  • 1874 - Coleman Cole

    Coleman Cole ccole 1874 - 1878

    Coleman Cole, son of Robert Cole and Sallie, his full blood Choctaw wife, was born in Mississippi about 1800. He attended School at Elliott Mission in Mayhew, Mississippi and later at Georgetown, Kentucky. After his school days were behind him he returned to Mississippi and fought to establish a permanent home there rather than be a part of the Trail of Tears. However, he was destined to become a party of later removed Choctaws when their bid for lands in Mississippi was turned down. The final inducement was a cash payment to the remaining Choctaws to ensure their removal to Indian Territory. He was finally persuaded to join this later group. He settled o­n lands some twenty miles northeast of Antlers.His first wife and two children died before he left Mississippi.

    Coleman and his second wife Abbie had two Children who died early in life.Coleman Cole was elected Chief of the Choctaws in August of 1874. He served in that capacity until October 1878. Upon conclusion of his tenure as Chief he established a home o­n the Kiamichi River near Stanley in Pushmataha County. He passed away in the autumn of 1886 and was buried in an unmarked grave near his home.

  • 1878 - Isaac Levi Garvin

    Isaac Levi Garvin igarvin-1 1878 - 1880

    In Garvin, Oklahoma, a four-foot granite marker has been erected at the grave of Isaac Levi Garvin in Waterhole Cemetery as part of a project of the McCurtain County Historical Society. Placement of the marker completes an effort by the society to memorialize the live Principal Chiefs of the Choctaw Nation who made their homes in what is now McCurtain County. Choctaw Chief’s Park near Eagletown was dedicated and commemorated Principal Chiefs George Hudson, 1860-62; Peter P. Pitchlynn, 1864-96.

    A 1958 project by the Oklahoma Historical Society had reclaimed the Garland family cemetery and refinished the stone o­n the grave of Samuel Garland, Principal Chief 1862-74. The grave of Jefferson Gardner was moved, with consent of his descendants, from the Christie family cemetery to the yard of the mansion home he had built in 1884-86. The grave of George Hudson has not yet been located. A considerable search for the grave of Judge Garvin was syndicated by members of the society before it was determined that his grave was in Waterhole Cemetery, which had been reclaimed several years ago through society efforts. The headstone from the grave had been broken and apparently removed. However, a small footstone bearing the initials ILG helped the searchers to locate the grave.

    Isaac Levi Garvin was born April 27, 1832 in Mississippi and was brought at the age of two to new Okla Falaya District in what is now Oklahoma by his parents. The family settled about six miles southeast of Wheelock Mission, about o­ne mile southeast of the site of present day Garvin, which was named for the Chief. Educated at Norwalk and Spencer Academies, Isaac Garvin became an attorney and later served as a county judge, a district judge and as presiding officer of the Choctaw Nation Supreme Court.

    In 1978, the prominent jurist, who had also served o­n the ChoctawNation General Council was elected as Principal Chief. He became the first Choctaw Principal Chief to die while still in office. He died Feb.20, 1880, seven months before his first term, as Chief would have expired. The community, called Garvin in his honor, that had grown up around his farm-ranch home, continued to thrive. In 1902, when the Choctaw and Arkansas (later Frisco) Railroad line was built, the community was moved northwest about o­ne mile to the rail line, but continued to commemorate the chief with its name. Waterhole Cemetery is located o­n a county road connecting US 70 at Garvin with SH 37 at the Iron Stob community, and in addition to Chief Garvin they also have the grave of his noted son-in-law, James Wood Kirk.

  • 1880 - Jackson F. McCurtain

    Jackson F. McCurtain jmccurtain 1880 - 1884

    Chief J. F. McCurtain was born in Mississippi o­n March 4, 1830. he came to Indian Territory with his parents, Cornelius and Mahayia McCurtain, when he was three years of age. His schooling was limited to two years at Spencer Academy when he was about 14 years old.

    He began his public career at the time the Choctaws were adopting a new constitution. He was elected as representative from Sugar Loaf County to the National Council in October 1859. o­ne June 22, 1861 he enlisted in the First Regiment of Choctaw and Chickasaw Mounted Rifles. He was commissioned Captain of Company G under the command of Colonel Douglas H. Cooper of the Confederate Army. In 1862 he became a Lieutenant Colonel of the First Choctaw Battalion. At the Close of the War Between the States he returned to his home near Red Oak.

    In August of 1866 he was elected Senator from Sugar Loaf County. Chief Garvin died in October 1878 before his term of office was up. Jackson F. McCurtain, being President Pro Tem of the Senate, automatically succeeded Garvin as tribal chief. At the close of Garvin’s term McCurtain was elected Chief in his own right. In August 1882 Jackson F. McCurtain was reelected Principal Chief of the Choctaws. Jackson was married twice. His first wife was Marie Riley, a sister of Judge James Riley. After her death he married Jane Frances Austin o­n November 28, 1865.

    In 1883 Jackson F. McCurtain established a home near Tushka Homma, the new Capitol. He died o­n November 14, 1885 and was buried in the old cemetery east of the Capitol building in a marked grave.

  • 1884 - Edmund McCurtain

    Edmund McCurtain emccurtain 1884 - 1886

    Chief Edmund McCurtain was born at Fort Coffee, Indian Territory June 4, 1842. He was the son of Cornelius McCurtain and Mahayia Nelson Belvin, granddaughter of Sho-ma-ka. Edmund attended neighborhood schools until he was 17. At the age of 19 he enlisted in the Confederate Army and served as a Second Lieutenant under the command of his brother Captain Jackson McCurtain. After his military service was over he established a home at Sans Bois in Haskell County. He married Susan King in 1862 and after her death he married Harriet Austin in 1876. In 1881 he married Clarissa LeFlore upon the death of his second wife.

    He distinguished himself by his persistent efforts and effective interest in the education of his people. He served as Judge of Sans Bois County, Trustee of Schools, and Representative to the National Council, and Superintendent of Education while his brother was Principal Chief. Edmund became Chief of the Choctaws at the end of J. F. McCurtain’s term of office. He served from 1884 to 1886. He declined to run for re-election and gave his support to Thompson McKinney, who was elected. Edmund was elected Senator from San Bois County in August 1888. He also served o­n an adjustment committee designated to settle certain fees growing out of the old Net Proceeds matter.

    Chief McCurtain died at Skullyville while en-route to his home. He had been attending a meeting of the National Council. His death occurred November 9, 1890. He was buried at Skullyville in a carefully marked grave.

  • 1886 - Thompson McKinney

    Thompson McKinney tmckinney 1886 - 1888

    Thompson McKinney was the oldest son of Judge Mitanvbbi (Matenabi) which means “To Kill While He Is Coming”. No records show when or where he was born. However, in the 1885 Choctaw census a Thompson McKinney of Gaines County was listed as being 48 years old. If this is the chief it would put is birth in about 1847.

    Nothing is known of his educational advantages although records indicate his brother studied first in neighborhood schools and then attended Spencer Academy. This information leads us to assume that Thompson McKinney paved the way at these schools for his younger brother.

    McKinney, upon attaining manhood, was appointed a member of the Choctaw Council in 1877. He also served as National Secretary for several years. He served as Principal Chief of the Choctaws from 1886 to 1888.

    During his tenure he sent his brother William, a minister, to Paris, Texas in the summer of 1887. William was entrusted with tribal school funds amounting to several thousand dollars. The monies were to be delivered to the Choctaw Council for disbursement to the various tribal schools. Placing the money in his saddlebags, William McKinney began his long journey. He was waylaid at a lonely spot and robbed by two persons he thought were men. McKinney, unhurt, hurried o­n to Paris and told the council members what had happened. They did not believe his story and he was accused of being an accomplice to the thieves. Thompson McKinney was also under suspicion because he selected his brother to carry out the important mission. Because of the rumors and accusations William was forced to withdraw from active work in the church. Later, after Belle Starr’s death o­n February 3, 1889, an account of the robbery of William McKinney was found in her handwriting. She told that she dressed as a man and o­ne of her henchmen had staged the daring holdup. After this escapade was brought to light William McKinney was immediately exonerated and restored to the full confidence of the tribe.

    Chief McKinney died at his home in Wilburton in 1889. He is buried in a log covered grave three miles west of Wilburton.

  • 1888 - Ben Smallwood

    Ben Smallwood bsmallwood 1888 - 1890

    Ben F. Smallwood succeeded Thomas McKinney, taking the oath of office in October of 1888 and serving until 1890. He was the son of William Smallwood. His grandfather was Elijah Smallwood, a white man from South Carolina, who went to Mississippi and married Mary LeFlore, a sister to Thomas LeFlore. Ben F. Smallwood’s father William Smallwood had studied at Choctaw Academy. He was a member of the Council in 1863. He married Annie Burney, a Chickasaw woman. He lived at Lehigh, Indian Territory and died there December 15, 1891 and is buried there.

  • 1890 - Wilson N. Jones

    Wilson Jones wjones 1890 - 1894

    Wilson N. Jones was born about 1827 in old Choctaw Nation, Mississippi Territory. He was the youngest child of Nathaniel Jones of Mississippi. His mother’s first name is unknown, but she was from the Battiest family, which makes him of French descent.

    Jones’ first wife was a daughter of Col. Pickens, a well-known Chickasaw leader. Two children were born of this marriage, but both died young. His second wife was Louisa LeFlore and they were the parents of Annie Bell and Willie Jones. Willie was killed, leaving o­ne son, Nat Jones. Nat committed suicide by jumping from the top of a ten story building in Oklahoma City. Wilson Jones had a sister named Lizzie, who married a white man, Thomas Griggs, Jr. Jones’ third wife was Martha L. Risener, the daughter of George and Mary Rebecca (Bonner) Risener from Tennessee. His fourth wife was Mrs. Bell Curtis, widowed daughter of Col. Heaston of Arkansas. Two children of this marriage died in infancy.

    Wilson Jones served as Chief from 1890 to 1894. He achieved the highest office of his people, was the richest man in the territory and endowed a hospital that bears his name and is still o­ne of the major hospitals in the region. He died January 11, 1901 at the age of 74. He is buried near his home place in Cade Community, Bryan County. Although Wilson Jones had little formal education, his administration is remembered for the strides made in education during his tenure. Many Choctaws had been educated in schools outside the Nation. Chief Jones was insistent that Choctaw schools be run by Choctaw educators. Three new schools were established during his administration. A boarding school for boys was established near Hartshorne and was named Jones Academy. A school for girls was founded near the Capitol and was called Tushka Homma Academy and a school for Freedmen was established and given the name Tuscaloosa Institute. Two older schools, Armstrong Academy and Wheelock Seminary, were set-aside as Orphans’ homes and schools for boy and girls, respectively.

  • 1894 - Jefferson Gardner

    Jefferson Gardner jgardner 1894 - 1896

    Jefferson Gardner, son of Noel and Hannah Gardner, was born near Wheelock Academy o­n July 12, 1847. He attended school at Norfolk in old Towson County and then entered Spencer academy for two years. Jefferson married Lucy James in 1862. After her death he married Lucy Christy in 1864. Upon her death he married Julia Christy, a sister of his second wife. He engaged in farming and raising stock along the Mountain Fork River near Eagletown. In 1878 he entered into the mercantile business. He was also Postmaster of Eagletown for many years.

    Politically, he served as county clerk, district clerk, and representative in the Tribal Senate, treasurer of the Choctaw Nation and as circuit judge of the second judicial district. Jefferson Gardner was elected Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in August 1894. He was a candidate of the Progressive Party. He defeated Jacob B. Jackson of the National Party. He passed away at Idabel o­n April 6, 1906. He was buried in the Joe Christy Cemetery near Eagletown.

  • 1896 - Green McCurtain

    Green McCurtain gmccurtain 1896 -1900

    When Green McCurtain took office in October 1902, he served until his death o­n December 28, 1910. In the election of 1902, Thomas Hunter of Hugo, was McCurtain’s opponent. In October 1902 before the votes were canvassed the U.S. Government had to send in soldiers to Tushka Homma to keep peace. Gilbert W. Dukes was a friend of Tom Hunter and the morning o­n which the votes were to be canvassed he walked into the Choctaw Capitol with Tom Hunter and outgoing Chief, turned over everything to Hunter as his successor. Major Hackett, U. S. Marshal, who was a friend of Gilbert Dukes and Tom Hunter, took possession of the capitol and grounds, with Tom Hunter as Chief, and proceeded to organize a council; the followers of McCurtain being barred from the building. Indian Agent Shoenfelt was o­n the ground and attempted to settle the difficulty but it was impossible because the U. S. Marshal representing the Judicial Department was in charge. Therefore, agent Shoenfelt sent a message to the War Department at Washington for troops. The order went to Fort Sill for soldiers to go to Tushka Homma. Saturday about noon, which was the last day provided by Constitution to canvass the votes, the U. S. Soldiers composed of 200 Negroes with white officers, came in, marched to the capitol, and after the commander consulted for o­ne hour with the U. S. Marshal and the Agent, he took charge of the building, disarming all occupants of the building and instructing them to tend to any business necessary.

    The members of the two factions then entered into fistfights in which the command took no side, while the votes were being canvassed. It was dark when the canvassing was completed and Green McCurtain was declared elected as Principal Chief of Choctaw Nation. Peter J. Hudson was an interpreter for Green McCurtain’s faction and witnessed and took part in the trouble.

    In 1904 another election was held with Green McCurtain and Thomas Hunter as Candidates and Green McCurtain was re-elected. He served until October 1906. In August 1906 Wesley Anderson of Tushka Homma was Elected Principal Chief but was not confirmed from the fact the tribal government was supposed to have expired March 4, 1906. It was said of him that he was “first an Indian and then a Democrat but there came a time when he believed the Democratic delegation in Congress was unfriendly to his people and he became and died a Republican.” He had no opponent, so Green McCurtain was the last elected Chief, and continued to serve until his death. Greenwood McCurtain, a staunch Baptist, passed away o­n December 28, 1910.

  • 1900 - Gilbert Wesley Dukes

    Gilbert Wesley Dukes gwdukes 1900 - 1902

    Gilbert Wesley Dukes, son of Joseph Dukes and Nancy Collins, was born at Lukfatah, Boktuklo County in the Choctaw Nation, o­n November 21, 1849. He received his education at Spencer Academy. After his schooling was completed he read law and was admitted to practice before the United States Courts in Indian Territory.

    His political career began when he was elected sheriff of Wade County. Later he served as a member of the General Council, Judge of the Supreme Court and as a Circuit Judge of the second district. He became the National Auditor in 1895 and served in that capacity for a period of two years.

    In 1900, as a candidate of the Tushka Homma Party and backed by the powerful McCurtain faction, Dukes was elected Chief of the Choctaw Nation. Gilbert Dukes married Angeline Wade in 1870, daughter of Governor Alfred Wade. After her death he married Isabella, daughter of Horace Woods. Chief Dukes, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, passed away December 26, 1919. He is buried in the Presbyterian Church Cemetery near Post Oak in an unmarked grave. Chief Dukes will be remembered because of his efforts expended toward the building of an Indian Hospital at Talihina.

  • 1902 - Green McCurtain

    Green McCurtain gmccurtain 1896 -1900

    When Green McCurtain took office in October 1902, he served until his death o­n December 28, 1910. In the election of 1902, Thomas Hunter of Hugo, was McCurtain’s opponent. In October 1902 before the votes were canvassed the U.S. Government had to send in soldiers to Tushka Homma to keep peace. Gilbert W. Dukes was a friend of Tom Hunter and the morning o­n which the votes were to be canvassed he walked into the Choctaw Capitol with Tom Hunter and outgoing Chief, turned over everything to Hunter as his successor. Major Hackett, U. S. Marshal, who was a friend of Gilbert Dukes and Tom Hunter, took possession of the capitol and grounds, with Tom Hunter as Chief, and proceeded to organize a council; the followers of McCurtain being barred from the building. Indian Agent Shoenfelt was o­n the ground and attempted to settle the difficulty but it was impossible because the U. S. Marshal representing the Judicial Department was in charge. Therefore, agent Shoenfelt sent a message to the War Department at Washington for troops. The order went to Fort Sill for soldiers to go to Tushka Homma. Saturday about noon, which was the last day provided by Constitution to canvass the votes, the U. S. Soldiers composed of 200 Negroes with white officers, came in, marched to the capitol, and after the commander consulted for o­ne hour with the U. S. Marshal and the Agent, he took charge of the building, disarming all occupants of the building and instructing them to tend to any business necessary.

    The members of the two factions then entered into fistfights in which the command took no side, while the votes were being canvassed. It was dark when the canvassing was completed and Green McCurtain was declared elected as Principal Chief of Choctaw Nation. Peter J. Hudson was an interpreter for Green McCurtain’s faction and witnessed and took part in the trouble.

    In 1904 another election was held with Green McCurtain and Thomas Hunter as Candidates and Green McCurtain was re-elected. He served until October 1906. In August 1906 Wesley Anderson of Tushka Homma was Elected Principal Chief but was not confirmed from the fact the tribal government was supposed to have expired March 4, 1906. It was said of him that he was “first an Indian and then a Democrat but there came a time when he believed the Democratic delegation in Congress was unfriendly to his people and he became and died a Republican.” He had no opponent, so Green McCurtain was the last elected Chief, and continued to serve until his death. Greenwood McCurtain, a staunch Baptist, passed away o­n December 28, 1910.

  • 1910 - Victor Locke Jr.

    Victor Locke Jr. vlocke 1910 - 1918

    Victor M. Locke Jr. was born at Doaksville, near Ft. Towson, in 1876. His parents were Victor M. Locke and Susan Priscilla McKinney. He attended Schools at White Church, six miles east of Antlers, Antlers Public Schools, and Jones Institute at Paris, Texas. In 1893 he entered Austin College located at Sherman, Texas. From there he accompanied some young men to Drury College, Springfield, Missouri for a year’s stay. In 1913, Victor Locke Jr. married a widow, Mrs. Vivia Nail Robertson. She was the daughter of J. H. Nail, a prominent Indian Citizen.

    Chief Locke was a veteran of the Spanish American War, though he never saw active service. He was also a member of the Oklahoma National Guard where he attained the rank of Major. He was a Catholic by faith and politically a Republican.

    o­ne of the highlights of his career was representing the state of Oklahoma as a delegate to the Republican National Convention. Theodore Roosevelt was nominated for President at that time.

    Victor M. Locke Jr. became Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1910 and served in that capacity until 1917. As chief he became the official spokesman for the tribe and appeared before several Congressional Committees in Washington,D. C. o­n their behalf.

    His ambition was to see all the Choctaws educated and to become useful citizens of Oklahoma. Most of all he wanted his people to be able to handle their own financial affairs. Chief Locke passed away March 1, 1943. He is buried in the Locke Family Cemetery at Antlers, Oklahoma.

  • 1918 - William F. Semple

    William F. Semple wfsemple 1918 - 1922

    William F. Semple was born at Caddo, Indian Territory, o­n March 16, 1883. His parents were Charles Alexander Semple and Minnie Pitchlynn. His maternal grandfather was Major John Pitchlynn, a former officer in the Colonial Army. General George Washington appointed Major Pitchlynn as Official Choctaw Interpreter and he was present at the signing of the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in 1830. Major Pitchlynn was married to Sophia Folsom. To this union was born Peter P. Pitchlynn.

    Chief Semple attended Jones Academy during his youth. In 1907 he graduated from Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia with a degree in law.

    After he returned to Oklahoma he set up a law practice in Durant, Oklahoma specializing in land titles. He was elected to the House of Representatives during the second session of that body. Later he was appointed District Attorney for the Choctaw Nation. He also served as Council for the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

    President Woodrow Wilson appointed William Finley Semple as the Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1918. He served in that capacity until 1922.

    The wife of Chief Semple, Clara Petty Semple, died o­n June 11, 1966. William F. Semple passed away in 1969. They are both buried in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

  • 1922 - William H. Harrison

    William H. Harrison whharrison 1922 - 1929

    William H. Harrison was born near Tamaha, Indian Territory in 1876. He was the son of Mitchell and Louisa Harrison. His early education was gained at Spencer Academy. Later he attended and graduated at Henry Kendall College in Muskogee, Oklahoma. His degree in law was earned at Centre College, Danville, Kentucky in 1902.

    Immediately upon his return to Indian Territory he was appointed District Attorney for the Choctaw Nation. In 1907 he was admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court. Chief Harrison also had a private law practice in Poteau and served as Postmaster for a time. In 1908 William H. Harrison was united in marriage with Miss Minette Roberts, daughter of Dr. C. S. Roberts of Lee’s Summit, Missouri.

    William Henry Harrison was appointed Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1922 by President Warren G. Harding. Chief Harrison, o­ne half Choctaw, fought valiantly to protect the rights of his people. He was a loyal advocate of tribal traditions and he carefully safeguarded them. He vigorously opposed Congressional efforts to pass legislation to open the citizenship rolls of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations. His personal lobbying to the Oklahoma delegation as well as to other members of Congress prevented passage of the bill. William H. Harrison died September 25, 1929 at his home in Poteau at the age of 53. His funeral was held in the Presbyterian Church at Poteau, was conducted by Rev. William Rolle, Rev. Harry Cox, and Rev. Harry Heincke.

  • 1929 - Ben Dwight

    Ben Dwight bdwight 1929 - 1937

    Ben H. Dwight was born near Mayhew, Indian Territory, November 24, 1890. He was the son of Simon Timothy Dwight, a full blood Choctaw, and Mary Jane Hunter. Ben’s father, Supervisor of Public Instruction for the Choctaws, instilled in his son the need for an education. Therefore, Ben became the best educated of any of the chiefs.

    He attended Jones Academy, Armstrong Academy, Caddo Public Schools, and graduated with honors from Honey Grove, Texas High School in 1908. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1913. His postgraduate work was at the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma. He completed his education at Leland Stanford University located at Palo Alto, California. He graduated with a Bachelor of Law Degree. His final act in his search for knowledge was to earn the coveted Doctor of Jurisprudence title.

    Chief Dwight began his public career in Bryan County as an Attorney at Law. He also served as Durant City Attorney and Assistant District Attorney for Bryan County. He married Eileen Perkins, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Perkins, in Durant, Oklahoma, o­n December 29, 1916. During World War I, Ben volunteered his services to the United States Army. He was accepted and assigned to the Intelligence Department at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. When the war ended Dwight engaged in several endeavors. He was an automobile distributor, in the furniture business for a time and worked in the production department at a movie studio in Hollywood. He was into oil and gas exploration and marketing when he got the appointment as Chief.

    Ben H. Dwight was the first Chief of the Choctaw Nation to be appointed by the President of the United States and elected by the Choctaw Tribe. During his tenure he represented the tribe in Washington, D. C. o­n many occasions. His two main concerns were to protect the property rights of his people and to ensure that the policies formulated in Congress would alleviate the social welfare problem of the Choctaws. After his term as Chief was over Dwight became an Attorney for the Choctaw Nation.

    Another service he performed for his tribe was to become the publisher of the Tushkahoman, an Indian Newspaper. In 1942 he was selected as Administrative Assistant to Governor Robert S. Kerr. When Kerr was elected United States Senator Chief Dwight went to our Nation’s Capitol with Mr. Kerr remaining in Washington, D. C. until shortly before his death. Ben H. Dwight passed away July 18, 1953 in Oklahoma. He is buried in Memorial Cemetery, Oklahoma City. His picture hangs in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Gallery at the Historical Building in Oklahoma City.

  • 1937 - William Durant

    William Durant wdurant 1937 - 1948

    William A. Durant was born at Bennington, Indian Territory, o­n March 18, 1866. He was the son of Sylvester Durant, a Presbyterian minister, and Martha Robinson. His early education began at Bennington and later he attended school in Durant. He earned a Master of Arts degree At Arkansas College, Batesville, in 1886.

    After his graduation Durant entered the teaching profession but soon gave up that line of work to study law. Upon completion of the course of study he was licensed to practice in the courts of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations and also in the Federal Courts. Chief Durant married Ida May Corber, daughter of George Corber, o­n April 19, 1892.

    Governor Durant, a successful farmer in addition to his law practice, served the Choctaw Nation a number of ways. He was Inspector of Academies, Superintendent of Jones Academy, Royalty Collector for his district and Special District Judge. In 1890 he was elected a member of the House of Representatives of the Choctaw Legislature. A year later he was chosen Speaker of the House. After statehood he was a member of the first, second and third Oklahoma Legislatures.

    O­n November 16, 1907, Mr. Durant took part in the ceremony that united Oklahoma and Indian Territories into the forty-sixth state. Mrs. Leo Bennett, of Cherokee descent, played the part of Miss Indian Territory and William A. Durant had the pleasure of giving the bride away. Durant became Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1937. He remained in office until 1948. Politically Mr. Durant was a staunch Democrat. Fraternally he was a Mason, an Elk and belonged to the Order of Knights of Pythias. Chief Durant died August 1, 1948 in Tushka Homma at the age of 82. Services were held in Tushka Homma and in Durant where he is buried.

  • 1948 - Harry J. W. Belvin

    Harry J. W. Belvin hbelvin 1948 - 1975

    Harry James Watson Belvin was born in Boswell, Indian Territory o­n December 11, 1900. He was the son of Watson J. Belvin and Mabel Powers Belvin. During his formative years he attended school in Boswell. He graduated from Southeastern Teachers College with a Bachelor of Science degree. His master Education degree was earned at the University of Oklahoma.

    Chief Belvin taught school in Bryan and Choctaw Counties for fifteen years. In 1941 he was elected County Superintendent of Public Instruction in Bryan County and held that office until 1952. He was a member of the Oklahoma Legislature for ten years. He served six years in the House of Representatives and four years in the Senate. o­n December 21, 1922 Jimmy Belvin married Lucille Brightwell in Boswell. To this union was born o­ne child, Louise Belvin Frazier.

    Belvin became Principal Chief of the Choctaw Nation in 1948 and remained in office twenty-seven years. He had the noteworthy distinction of serving the Choctaw people for the longest period of time. He received many honors during his tenure as chief. He was chosen Outstanding Indian of Oklahoma and outstanding American Indian of Oklahoma and Outstanding American Indian Citizen. He received the Oklahoma Bankers Association Award for Land Improvement and a Special Recognition Award from the American Indian Institute. Chief Belvin was active in the Inter-Tribal Council of the five Civilized Tribes, the National Congress of American Indians, the American Indian Institute, the Choctaw – Chickasaw Confederation, and the Oklahoma Indian club.

    The flamboyant Belvin was nicknamed “The Little Warrior” because he was always ready and willing to fight (with fisticuffs if necessary) for the things he believed in or to get his point across. Chief Belvin, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, passed away September 19, 1986 in Bryan memorial Hospital at the age of 85. He is buried in Highland Cemetery, Durant, Oklahoma.

  • 1975 - Clark David Gardner

    Clark David Gardner cdgardner 1975 - 1978

    Chief Gardner was Born April22, 1940 at Boswell, Oklahoma. His parents were Reverend Critten A. Gardner and Ida Mae Jones. He attended school at Boswell until he was 13 and then moved to Sulphur to finish his undergraduate work there. After graduating from Sulphur High School he entered East Central State University at Ada. He earned his bachelor’s degree there and his master’s degree from Southwestern State University. He also did graduate work at the University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma. Gardner served a hitch in the U.S. Navy from 1958 to 1963. He also taught at the University of Oklahoma and at Southwestern State for a time. David Gardner married Carol Jean Parker August 27, 1958.

    Gardner, a distant relative of Chief Harry J. W. Belvin, spearheaded an opposition force against Belvin’s administration. He advocated that the Choctaws should have a two party government. His first attempt to become chief was thwarted because he was only 31 instead of 35-age limit required by the Choctaws for potential candidates. His efforts were not in vain. At age 35 David Gardner o­nce more ran for chief and elected by the Choctaw Nation. He took office in August 1975. The 1975 Annual Choctaw Labor Day Festival at the Choctaw Capitol in Tushka Homma was highlighted by a ceremony swearing in newly elected Chief Clark David Gardner, 35 of Muskogee. The oath of office was administered to the new Chief by District Judge Sam Sullivan of Durant. This was, however, o­nly a ceremony because the official oath of office was administered Tuesday evening, August 26, 1975, at Southeastern State University in Durant by U. S. Senator Henry Bellmon. The oath of office was originally scheduled to be given during the Labor Day activities, but a hurry up ceremony was arranged when it was discovered the term of Harry J. W. Belvin, Principal Chief of the Choctaws since 1948, had expired. And too, it is reported a Bureau of Indian Affairs ruling requires that no tribe can be without a Principal Chief over a specified length of time. If a new chief is not sworn in within that time, the BIA and the outgoing chief can appoint a new chief, even if an election has been held.

    In an interview Gardner said that he was going to “take it slow and easy.” In making changes during his administration, Gardner stressed the fact that there would definitely be a new tribal constitution for the Choctaws drawn up by the people. “W feel there is a great future for the Choctaw Nation.”

    It was learned that the Choctaw Board of Directors had successfully acquired a 100 percent grant of $150,000, from the Economic Development Administration for the second phase of the Choctaw Capitol restoration. The money will be used to repair the upstairs portion of the Council House and develop a recreational vehicle park, west of the Council House. Calvin Beams and Gardner drew the most votes out of eight candidates who entered the primary election August 9th. The candidates with the five highest votes were, Gardner1412; Beams, 864; Tom Coleman, 725; Dub Victor, 463; Robert Anderson, 348. The runoff votes for Gardner were 2,049 to 1,329 for Beams.

    He was one of the organizers of the Choctaw-Chickasaw Alliance. His support of this union was based on the fact that the two tribes had similar problems and goals. He contended they should work together to bring about positive changes for both tribes. Believing the Choctaw language was dying out, Gardner gained permission to reprint a Choctaw dictionary by Cyrus Byington, an early day missionary. Sold in paperback form to the Choctaws, this publication rekindled interest in the Choctaw language and culture. Clark David Gardner, a Presbyterian, passed away in Durant, Oklahoma, on January 13, 1978 while still Chief. Private graveside services were held January 14, at Sulphur where he is buried.

  • 1978 Hollis E. Roberts

    Hollis E. Roberts

    Hollis E. Roberts was born on May 9, 1943 in Hochatown, Oklahoma in McCurtain County. He is the son of Darrell E. Roberts and Laura Beam Roberts. He attended Holly Creek Elementary School his first eight years and graduated from Idabel High School in 1961.

    Hollis married Helen R. Rodriguez, May 17, 1963. To this union three children were born, two boys and one girl. Roberts became involved in tribal and Choctaw County affairs.

    He served as city councilman at Hugo for 14 years, was a member of the Choctaw County Chamber of Commerce, and was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives for a period of six years. In addition, he had acted as Secretary and Treasurer of the Arkansas Riverbed Authority. Roberts, one-half Choctaw, became Chief in April 1978 after the untimely death of C. David Gardner. Judge Ralph Hodges administered the oath of office to Roberts in Montgomery auditorium on the campus of Southeastern Oklahoma State University.

    During his administration the Choctaw Nation offered ever-increasing services and advantages, thanks to Self-Governance. Roberts and the Tribal Council were responsible for the acquistion of Arrowhead Lodge in 1987. While he was Chief, the Choctaw Tribe was awarded a six million dollar settlement by the United States government for tribal lands given to early-day railroad companies to build stations on.

    Hollis Roberts term as Chief ran from 1978 to 1997, when he was convicted of one count of Aggravated Sexual Abuse and two counts of Abusive Sexual Contact.

  • 1997 - Gregory E. Pyle

    Choctaw Chief Gregory E. Pyle

    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 six 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.

  • 2014 - Chief Gary Batton

    Chief Batton began his employment with the Choctaw Nation nearly 27 years ago. He has worked in several capacities at the Choctaw Nation including leadership positions in housing, health and administration. Shortly after Gregory E. Pyle took office in 1997, he appointed Batton to the position of Executive Director of Health and the Choctaw Nation Health System was completely transformed. Chief Batton’s first undertaking after stepping into the role was replacing 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.

    While Chief Batton was managing the health system, 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.

    Batton developed partnerships with other organizations and governments to add even more services to the health system. Through partnerships with OU Health Sciences Center, ear, nose and throat (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.

    Chief Batton 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 has served as Chairman of the Choctaw Nation Business Committee where he focused on adding new businesses and expanding and increasing profitability of current businesses to support the 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. With his guidance, tribal businesses have shown a 69 percent increase in profitability and tribal services continue to grow and evolve.

    In addition to his job duties, Chief Batton has represented the Choctaw Nation on numerous boards and committees including the National Budget Committee for Indian Health Service, the National Health Service Corps National Advisory Council, and the Tribal Technical Advisory Committee for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). He currently serves on the Thunderbird Youth Academy Foundation Board, the Children’s Hospital Foundation Board of Advocates, the Choctaw Nation Chahta Foundation Board and the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Foundation Board.



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