Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

The Great Seal of the Choctaw Nation
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Tribe growing stronger during its spring season

From the Desk of Assistant Chief Gary Batton

May 2012

I see the result of the seasons changing. Everything is now coming into bloom and it seems that life is really kicking off again after the cold winter. The tribe is in the same spring season. We have so many things to be thankful for with all of the programs we now have for our tribal members. One example is our School of Choctaw Language.

The department held a celebration April 26 in Durant with over 500 kids traveling from 39 schools to join in the finale. Those 500 young people now know more of the Choctaw language and there will be more students enrolling next year. This keeps our culture and heritage alive and strong!

Not all of the students were able to attend because of scheduling conflicts. School of Choctaw Language Director Jim Parrish tells me that there are approximately 700 high school students enrolled in Choctaw I and Choctaw II. What impressed us most at the finale is the way they all responded to the emcee for the day, Theresa Billy. Mrs. Billy greeted the group with “Halito! Chim achukma?”, and received a resounding response from the students. They not only told her how they were, they asked how she was in return. This shows great promise for the tribe’s future.

Our ancestors endured a harsh winter on the Trail of Tears. Chief Pyle and I want to invest in our tribal members and our businesses so that type of winter does not happen to the Choctaw people again. We want them to be proud, self-sufficient people who are able to stand on their own two feet and take the path or journey they choose to take. We want what is best for our tribal members just like we want what is best for our families. We want them to keep the values that have made them the great individuals they are and to have the ability to succeed in whatever they choose.

I am very proud of everyone who participated in April’s Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. One employee relay team won first place in the Masters MX Division. That is a great accomplishment. Each person who gave their time to join in the annual event gave a part of themselves as a tribute to the victims of the devastating bombing in 1995.

It’s encouraging to see so many of our tribal members and employees taking the steps to become healthier, stronger and able to run marathons. Healthier individuals mean healthier families and that equals a stronger nation.

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Choctaw Nation’s Going Lean Program sponsored 40 runners in various races during the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on April 29. Congratulations to the employee team who took first place in the Masters MX Division with a relay time of 3 hours and 48 minutes. Team members include Billy Stephens, Angie Stephens, Terry Stephens, Shannon McDaniel and Dean Phillips. There were a total of 27,000 runners in the marathon, held each year in memory of the victims and survivors of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building and their family members.