2021 State of the Nation

Chief Gary Batton delivers 2021 State of the Nation Address

October 1, 2021

Chief Gary Batton delivered his annual State of the Nation Address via a special video released on Labor Day. The video highlighted the Choctaw Nation’s success, showcasing several programs, the new Choctaw Cultural Center and inspiring Choctaw tribal members. Below are Chief Batton’s message and a few highlights featured in the video. Watch the virtual State of the Nation Address.

Last year, I reminded you all that we are a people of miracles. And we have continued to prove it by taking care of each other through some of the toughest obstacles we’ve faced in a century.

Choctaw people make a positive impact on their communities every day through their hard work and determination. We still have challenges to face, but because of our Chahta Spirit, our communities remain strong and continue to grow through difficulties.

Higher Education

One of the ways our people make a difference is through education. The Choctaw people have always valued education. In fact, Choctaws built the first schools in Indian Territory.

Today, our Higher Education and Career Development programs support tribal members’ efforts to learn new skills and be successful in a dynamic job market.

This year, we increased the amount of funding for Higher Ed programs. We also changed some of the eligibility requirements to make it even easier for tribal members to get help through scholarships, technology allowances and clothing allowances.

Tribal Members Served 5,457
Total Funding $9,114,100


We know people are happier, healthier and more successful when their most basic needs are met. That’s why the Choctaw Nation works so hard to lift our tribal members out of unsafe, substandard housing.

Over the past year, we’ve performed over a thousand home repairs and installed hundreds of storm shelters.

We’ve also built new housing units across the Nation through LEAP homes, affordable rentals and Independent Elder housing.

Total Households Served 4,665


While we support tribal members who will eventually join the workforce through training and education, we are also supporting the current workforce right here in Southeastern Oklahoma. Over the past year, the job market has been unstable, to say the least. Some people have found they need training to do their jobs differently, while others lost jobs they’ve held for decades.

This year, we have hired hundreds of associates across the Choctaw reservation in programs and services, as well as commerce and gaming. We also have hundreds of positions open available to anyone looking to elevate their career.

Foster Care

Our children are precious, and they deserve to grow up in safe homes. Right now, our Foster Care program is searching for Choctaw families who can help shelter and care for children until they can be reunited with their family. The Choctaw Nation provides our foster families with a strong support system to ensure our children’s needs are met, and they stay connected with our culture. I pray you will consider helping our children.


The well-being of our people is a top priority of the Choctaw Nation, and over the past year, we’ve increased our efforts to raise the quality of life, health and wellness in our communities.

Our clinics continue to provide excellent care throughout our reservation and even in bordering states. We also offer medical care, prescriptions, and wellness programs to our associates and their families through our Employee Health Clinics.

One of the programs I’m most proud of is our COVID-19 vaccination rollout. We partnered with municipal health authorities throughout the reservation to get our frontline workers and elders vaccinated first. This allowed us to protect those who care for our people and those who carry our culture. From there, we were able to vaccinate thousands of people in Southeastern Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas.

Research has shown that Native Americans are at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Our Diabetes Prevention and PACE programs are fighting that battle every day through education programs, awareness events and cutting-edge technology. The good news is that we’re making progress, but there’s still work to be done.

We also understand that people are struggling more than ever with mental and emotional health issues. The pandemic and other challenges this year have put extra stress on us all, and I want everyone to know that the Choctaw Nation is here to help you with a holistic approach to health.

The Choctaw people have always taken good care of themselves, their neighbors and the land. I’m so proud of the progress we’ve made this year in funding programs that will improve life for tribal members on and off the reservation. We’ve also supported our local communities through infrastructure projects, education programs and law enforcement partnerships.

I’ve always believed in supporting opportunities to make lives better, and that means making it easier to access programs that raise the quality of life for our people.

Small businesses are the heart of our communities, and the Choctaw Nation is proud to support tribal members who dream of owning their own businesses. These folks work hard and put in long hours to bring their dreams to life. They inspire me every day with their “Tvshka Spirit” There’s a saying that a rising tide lifts all ships, and when our small businesses are succeeding, it’s good for everyone in the community.

Patient Encounters 800,000
Wellness Center Visits 264,280
Prescriptions Filled 1,182,566
COVID-19 Vaccines Administered 37,632


We’ve scored some big wins for Choctaw sovereignty through the Supreme Court’s McGirt decision and the Sizemore case that followed, but our work is far from finished.

We are facing some tough opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision. The governor and attorney general have been very vocal about their efforts to have the decision reversed, but we must remain vigilant to ensure our ability to care for our people and govern ourselves is protected.

Our Sovereignty for Strong Communities Commission worked hard over the past year to identify all the areas of Choctaw operations that are affected by the McGirt decision and work with community partners on jurisdictional issues.

We also worked to implement training for our law enforcement partners in communities throughout the reservation, which helps our community agencies understand jurisdictional issues.

I am proud to work with our local, state and federal law agencies to ensure the safety of everyone who lives in our jurisdiction.

Cross-Deputization Agreements 72

When our ancestors began interacting with European and American settlers, we learned to speak their languages in order to be successful in trade and government relations.

Over time, fewer and fewer people spoke Choctaw fluently. Our children were even forbidden from speaking their native language in schools and in some Choctaw homes.

Today, we are strengthening our language through the Anumpa Aiikhvna school. Our language experts and fluent speakers teach the Choctaw language to students in communities and public schools across our reservation.

Tribal sovereignty isn’t just about law enforcement, regulation and court cases.

It’s about our culture.

Some of our most important work is taking place in our brand-new Cultural Center, where our past is preserved and our future is protected through art, food and history.

I can’t wait for everyone to experience the Chahta Spirit and learn about our people.


As a tenacious Tribe, we have endured and will continue to do so. And it’s all because of you – every tribal member who learns and speaks our language. Every member of the Choctaw proud waving our flag. Over the past year-and-a-half, your continuous efforts have played huge a part in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s continued rise.

Every nurse. Every doctor. Every individual who stood along the frontlines and helped protect us — yakoke.

Every Travel Plaza cashier. Every distribution worker. Every Associate – who continued to rise against adversity each and every day—yakoke.

Every parent. Every student. Every family who showed bravery in the face of hardship – yakoke.

It is because of your tenacity, your determination, your spirit, that we have come so far in rising above our challenges – each and every time.

For centuries, we have relied on the lessons and stories of our ancestors’ courage to give us hope. I am confident that, a hundred years from now, our Tribe will rely on the lessons and stories of your courage to rise today.

On behalf of them – and all of our Tribe – it is my privilege and honor to say, yakoke and chi pisa li chike.