Choctaws have long been stewards of the land
From the desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton
It seems that every time I pick up the Biskinik, a local paper or turn on the TV, there is another story about the Choctaw Nation’s efforts to sustain the environment. I like to think of it as our way of nurturing the land so that our grandchildren and their grandchildren will have as beautiful a place to live as we do.
I have had the opportunity to travel to many sections of the United States and have seen some of the most well-known sites in this country. The mountains, valleys, lakes and rivers of Southeastern Oklahoma are comparable to any of them.
I often drive across Sardis Lake and through Potato Hills where a growing family of eagles has been a familiar sight for the last several years. The Ouachita National Forest in McCurtain and LeFlore counties contains impressive views of mountains and streams, and acres upon acres of wilderness that provide a home to hundreds of species of wildlife. The Talimena Drive, stretching from Talihina to Mena, Ark., is a popular scenic byway attracting tourists to the area every fall.
These are only a few of the awe-inspiring wonders in this area. We’ve been fortunate to have received enough rain in the last six months to ease the drought conditions of 2011. We sometimes forget the devastating results of record-breaking heat and rainless days when faced with the new growth of the spring season.
The Choctaw Nation takes its role as caretakers of the land very seriously, with the objective of preserving our inheritance for generations to come. Preparing for the future is a necessary component of stewardship and is evident in many of the endeavors we are undertaking to fulfill the tribe’s 100-year vision of achieving healthy, successful, productive and self-sufficient lifestyles for a proud nation of Choctaws.
The tribe’s Agriculture Department has lived by this code for decades, tending tribally owned ranches and partnering with forest services to protect and enhance our part of the state. The Choctaw people have long looked to the land to provide food, water, shelter and materials to create commonly used objects that are as important today as they were hundreds of years ago.
The Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations’ efforts to ensure responsible decisions about the water in Oklahoma are continuous. Sufficient water is essential to conserving our way of life.
The Choctaw Nation’s Going Green program and Recycling Center have implemented several initiatives, exhibiting a resourcefulness that rivals much-larger organizations.
Environmentally friendly materials are being used more in construction of new facilities and many of the staff have volunteered for projects to clean up highways and parks, plant trees and sow wildflower seeds.
As I look around from my favorite spot in the world – my home – I am thankful knowing there are many who realize the importance of conserving our environment and have the foresight to take strides toward a better future for us all.