Chief Pyle sworn in for fourth term
Delivers State of the Nation to capacity crowd
Chief Gregory E. Pyle greeted a huge crowd as he stepped to the podium on Sept. 5 at Tushka Homma. The amphitheater was filled to capacity and hundreds more stood on the Capitol grounds for the closing ceremony of the annual Labor Day Festival, listening as Pyle gave the State of the Nation address on the day that marked the beginning of his fourth term as Chief of the Choctaw Nation.
“This year’s Labor Day theme is ‘Building and Sustaining our Heritage Through the Legacy of Those Who Came Before,’ he said. “We are a proud nation of Choctaws and we have a mighty legacy to live up to. Our ancestors were brave and strong and determined, and they survived many hardships to become the great tribe we are today. It is our responsibility to sustain our heritage in such a way to honor those who came before us, and to continue this legacy by teaching our children their heritage. “Our Going Green program continues – ‘sustaining our people, our traditions, our earth.’ The Choctaw Nation has always been a protector of the environment, especially water, and we continue in that role today,” Chief Pyle emphasized. “By treaty with the federal government, the tribe’s water has never been given up. This is still our water and we will continue to fight for the protection of this natural resource in southeastern Oklahoma. Our interest is in a solution that is beneficial to our region and all of Oklahoma.
“Speaking of treaties, it was my honor and privilege recently to see some of the original treaties between the Choctaws and the U.S. government. During Choctaw Days at the Smithsonian, Assistant Chief Gary Batton and I were allowed to access a vault in the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where these treaties are kept. They were in a small room with extremely tight security. When we entered the National Archives building, we were met by a host, one of only four people with a key to this secure room holding the treaties.
“We were allowed to see several treaties, but the most impressive was the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, dated Sept. 27, 1830. This is the first removal treaty and ceded about 11 million acres in Mississippi in exchange for 15 million acres in Indian Territory. Shortly after this treaty was signed, the Choctaws began the first Trail of Tears in the fall of 1831.
“We saw several other treaties, but none compared to viewing the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Thousands of Choctaws died along the Trail of Tears as a result of this treaty and the ensuing removal.
“Today the Choctaw Nation continues to grow and prosper. Our tribal vision is ‘to achieve healthy, successful, productive and self-sufficient lifestyles for a proud nation of Choctaws.’ This continues to be our goal – to better serve you – the Choctaw people. Our continued economic development will create more jobs, more revenue and ultimately more services for our tribal members. Road projects will improve access to health care, schools and jobs. “For example, here at Tushka Homma roads on our Capitol grounds were recently paved. We will continue to provide for our Choctaw people,” Chief Pyle said. “I want all of our families to achieve our vision of healthy, successful and self-sufficient Choctaws. “I want to take a moment to recognize our Tribal Council. These 12 people have made a commitment to serve the Choctaw people and we appreciate their service to the Nation. We are especially pleased to introduce two new Council members – Ron Perry and Tony Messenger. We welcome them to the Council and look forward to working with them.
“We also want to remember one of our Council members who passed away this year. Charlotte Jackson was an incredible lady who will long be remembered for her devotion to all Choctaws. She loved her people and served them well for many years.
“We also want to take a moment to honor members of our military and their service to our country,” Chief Pyle said, asking all veterans to stand and be recognized. Several generations of warriors rose to their feet, representing World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“We have a great relationship with the military and the Choctaw Nation provides support to our troops in many ways. We continue to send care packages to our troops stationed overseas. We also provide help with Veterans Airlift Command flights that assist our wounded warriors to visit family or for medical treatment.
“In closing,” he said, “I want to emphasize that the Choctaw Nation continues to be strong. As we honor our culture and the legacy of our ancestors, we remember our heritage and continue our traditions. Our strength and our continued growth will sustain our future generations to follow. And we will remain a proud Nation of Choctaws!”
Photo 1: Chief Gregory E. Pyle, with wife Patti by his side, is sworn into office during the Labor Day ceremony by Tribal Judge Mitch Mullen.
Photo 2: Tribal Judge Fred Bobb swears in the Tribal Councilmen during the Labor Day ceremony, from left, District 1 Thomas Williston, District 5 Ronald Perry, District 11 Bob Pate, District 8 Perry Thompson, District 3 Kenny Bryant, and District 2 Tony Messenger.