Looking Ahead to the New Year
Published January 9, 2023
By Chief Gary Batton
As we start 2023, I want to begin by wishing you and your family a “Happy New Year!” I hope the next 12 months are healthy, safe, and prosperous for you and all members of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma!
Assistant Chief, our Tribal Council, and the Choctaw Nation’s senior leadership and I will continue to work together to drive for results in support of improving all aspects of the quality of life for our tribal members in the new year. From education, housing, and health to employment, data digital transformation and an increase in economic development activities across the reservation, we will be razor-sharp in our focus to deliver more opportunities to enhance the well-being of our tribal members in 2023.
An example of this focus can be seen in the growth of both our health and our housing options and opportunities for our tribal members. Later this year, we’ll break ground on a major expansion of our McAlester Health Clinic, which will more than double the size of the clinic’s square footage and provide services not currently offered once the expansion is completed. In housing, senior tribal leadership established a goal of 1,000 new homes to be developed within the Choctaw Nation by 2023. Here’s where we are: As of December 2022, 1,018 homes and 392 apartments (total of 1,354 units) have been approved by Tribal Council.
- 735 have been completed
- 619 are currently under contract for construction
- 600 additional homes approved by Tribal Council in November 2022
To improve education and economic opportunities we need to improve broadband coverage and technology adoption across the reservation. In 2023, we’ll continue our work to develop and implement a Choctaw Nation Broadband strategy and while also continuing to work to increase access to targeted services in Chahta Achvffa. An example of successful results in this area can be seen in our support of tribal members, who are interested in pursuing employment at the Choctaw Nation. Tribal members can now subscribe to CNO job postings based on their location and job category preference via the Chahta Achvffa portal in coordination with our Careers website! As we start the new year, I’m proud to note that we now have approximately 12,000 employees, the most in Choctaw Nation history!
Speaking of broadband service, I would note that the Oklahoma Broadband Office wants all of us to check our address for current service availability on a map released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The map, available at broadbandmap.fcc.gov, allows residents to look up their address to see if the broadband availability information in the map is correct. The FCC deadline to provide corrected/updated information is this Friday, Jan. 13, 2023.
The Oklahoma Broadband Office says after the challenge process is completed, the data in the final version of the map will be used to determine how much grant money Oklahoma will get to improve internet service throughout the state. We need your help. It’s important for everyone in the reservation to go to the referenced website and fill out the information so that we can get as many dollars as possible to support the broadband strategy for our nation.
To support our focus on improving quality of life for our tribal members, we continue to look for opportunities to strengthen our financial growth and economic sustainability. One such example is our Reba’s Place partnership. Reba’s Place is expected to hold various grand opening activities and ceremonies this month in Atoka.
As you can tell, lots to talk about and lots to look forward to in 2023! Again, Happy New Year!
Yakoke and God Bless!
Gary Batton, Chief
Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma