TVSHKA HOMMA, Okla. – Chief Gary Batton reported on Labor Day the economic impact made by the Choctaw Nation to be a healthy $1,868,451,097.
“That’s a $1.8 billion with a B, impact made on the State of Oklahoma,” said Chief Batton. “Total tribal assets are $2.4 billion.”
The Fiscal Year 2016 figure, the most recent available, but still growing, lit up a power point presentation in Chief Batton’s 2018 State of the Nation address at the Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival. The Monday morning, Sept. 3 event closed out the five-day festival held each year at Tvshka Homma, the historic Capitol of the Chahta.
Chief Batton said, “The economic impact made by the Choctaw Nation is accelerating opportunities for growth and prosperity for the tribe and the State of Oklahoma.” What that translates to, he said, are 8,358 direct jobs supported in 2016 (the 2018 figure has jumped to 10,346 employees) and 12,161 total jobs supported, making direct income payments $518,000,000.
“Everyone wants to know where the money comes from,” Chief Batton said, posting a pie chart behind him and on other screens, some outside the amphitheater for the overflow crowd to see. “The largest amount, about 58 percent, comes from the business operations of the tribe; 24 percent from federal and state grants; 12 percent from Medicare and third-party insurance; 3 percent, general government revenue; and 2 percent, housing.”
Another pie chart showed “Where the Money Goes.” It displayed 67 percent goes to services to tribal members, 21 percent to capital projects, and 12 percent to the permanent fund.
Chief Batton explained that there were large building projects completed in the past year including, in Durant, the new Choctaw Nation Headquarters and Regional Medical Clinic. Also he listed the Choctaw Casino & Resort expansion in Grant; Wellness Centers in Poteau and Durant, Community Center in Broken Bow and Head Start in Wright City. The Housing Authority’s lease-to-purchase program, LEAP, also opened 10 new brick homes each in Atoka, Cameron, Coalgate, Heavener and Hugo. By the end of the year 10 new homes will be in each of the 12 districts of the Choctaw Nation.
Future projects scheduled for openings in the coming months, he said, include more homes in other communities and the new Choctaw Nation Judicial Center.
Chief Batton praised the Tribal Council and noted among their accomplishments, the passing of a new Election Ordinance and a new state of transparency with the Code of Ethics and streamlined reporting.
All programs, for education, youth, social and elder services and more, Chief Batton explained, showed increases in numbers of tribal members served. Some were substantial. In health, outpatient visits went from 107,563 to 364,857; surgeries performed went from 2,688 to 3,514. Households assisted with home repairs jumped from 154 to 548. Home ownership, assisted by the Choctaw Nation, grew from 158 to 240.
The across-the-board growth was clearly in line with the tribe’s Mission Statement. Chief Batton said, “To the Choctaw Proud, ours is the sovereign Nation offering opportunities for prosperity and growth.”
The close of Chief Batton’s presentation, like his introduction, was received with a standing ovation.
From Aug. 30 through Sept. 3 an estimated 100,000 people came to the Pushmataha County site to participate and share in Choctaw heritage, such as stickball, storytelling, Native hymns, and traditional arts and crafts; enjoy the family fun, including carnival rides and sports tournaments; and learn about today’s programs and services in health, education and more.
Day visitors drove from across Oklahoma and from neighboring states. More than 350 RV campsites had all been reserved by the end of last January, while an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 campers set up tents to stay for the duration of the festival.
Each evening, more than 5,000 people packed the amphitheater for concerts by country music headliners Trace Adkins, Neal McCoy, and Dan + Shay, and popular Christian acts Chris Tomlin and Jason Crabb. Local opening acts were Choctaw musicians Jerry Tims and Kylie Morgan.
Thursday’s pageant, also held at the amphitheater saw new crowns sparkle on Miss Choctaw Nation Loren Crosby, from Choctaw Nation District 7; Kalin Beller, Junior Miss Choctaw, from District 9; and Little Miss Choctaw Mia Reich, District 7.
The annual Choctaw Nation Art Show again drew 56 of the top tribal artists from across Oklahoma and several states including, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri and Texas. Their work was displayed in the historic Choctaw Capitol building.
To view a full list of winners from each art category, sports tournaments and other competitions, as well as plenty of photographs visit www.choctawnation.com.