Tradition strengthens me as a person
From the desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton
Festival time is a huge celebration for my family! I enjoy the fellowship and activities – and the opportunities to learn new information about my heritage make the weekend remarkable.
It is humbling to constantly find more information about my ancestors and my tribal history that is consistent with the values that I hold dear. God, family, friendship, integrity, progress and development, healthy lifestyles – these values and many others were important to the Choctaws in Mississippi and after our tribe’s removal to Oklahoma. Churches and schools were established as soon as the Choctaw people arrived along the Trail of Tears, and families worked together to survive and progress.
Labor Day Weekend is always a reminder of the great history – the Princess Pageant is filled with culture. The young ladies’ performances of cultural talent are inspiring, and seeing so many people in tribal dress is extremely exciting. This year, the unveiling of the statue of Pushmataha, one of the great Choctaw Chiefs of our past, had a special meaning to me, as I had the privilege of seeing his signature (or more specifically, his X) on a document at the National Archives earlier this summer. Looking upon the strong facial features, I could just imagine the pride that he must have had in leading warriors in battle, and the sadness he must have had for the entire tribe when asked to give up lands in Mississippi.
Exhibition stickball is exciting to watch each year on Sunday afternoon, and the addition of a Friday and Saturday night stickball tournament to the agenda this year was awesome! The players are tough! They embody the spirit of warriors, and the pride on their faces rivals that of Chief Pushmataha!
Congratulations to Chief Pyle and the Tribal Council for another successful event. It was a pleasure to witness them taking the Oath of Office at the official ceremony at the amphitheater. It is hard to decide what my favorite event of the weekend is, but my favorite memory is my family and my friends, laughing and having a great visit, at the biggest “family reunion” I know of, the reunion of Choctaws from all across the globe!