Updates from Chief Batton

Published Nov. 30, 2020

Thanksgiving is behind us, and I hope you and your family had a nice one. It was an unusual one, since so many Choctaw tribal members stayed home rather than traveling to join loved ones. I can't think of a time in my life that was so filled with hope and promise, while at the same time was filled with such challenge.

Actually, I'm feeling heartened on all fronts. Three major developers of potential vaccines to control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic have now reported results of large-scale trials. Two report an effectiveness of about 95%, and the third reports a 90% efficacy. We'll be learning of additional reports from other vaccine developers in the coming weeks and months. I know these will take a while to produce and distribute, but the future's looking up.

However, the holidays mean more people will be spending time together, which increases the risk of the spread of the coronavirus. I encourage you to do your best to limit your exposure during the next month to ensure you and your family remain safe.

On the sovereignty front, I continue to be hopeful. We have our eye on a number of cases working their way through the court system. Any one of these could be the one which triggers a reaffirmation that the Choctaw Nation's reservation was never disestablished just the way that the Supreme Court case, McGirt v. Oklahoma, did this summer for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. I am certain it's just a matter of time, and I wouldn't be surprised if it happens before the end of the year.

We continue planning on that eventuality. It's exciting, but I also feel a great sense of responsibility for all people who reside within our area as we plan to step forward to make life better for all citizens.

We have already hired ten additional police officers and seven additional social workers to help us manage the transition period. We'll need to recruit an additional 20 police officers, most likely, as well as additional social workers as soon as a court reaffirms the Choctaw Nation's reservation was never disestablished. I'll be watching developments closely over the next few days and weeks.

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