Gov. Anoatubby credits unity, commitment for tribe’s ongoing success

This article appeared in the November 2020 edition of the Chickasaw Times

ADA, Okla. – Unity, perseverance and commitment to each other are the cornerstones of the Chickasaw Nation’s strength during today’s trying times.

This was the message Governor Bill Anoatubby delivered during his annual State of the Nation address Oct. 3.

The State of the Nation Address delivered by Gov. Anoatubby this year was transmited virtually due to the pandemic.

“We miss seeing you in person,” he told the Chickasaw people. “Our gathering brings home the fact that each one of us is part of something greater than ourselves. Together we are one family, one community, one nation. Our nation is strong because we are one.”

The Chickasaw Annual Meeting, traditionally conducted at Fletcher auditorium on the Murray State College campus in Tishomingo, was this year converted to a virtual format as part of the comprehensive plan the Chickasaw Nation has implemented to help contain the virus, while continuing to provide services.

“By modifying our operations, we have been able to safely and effectively offer programs and services to our people and the community,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “We are meeting this challenge with diligent effort, innovation and determination.”


In early March, members of the Chickasaw Nation leadership team began actively monitoring the beginnings of what would soon be declared a global pandemic.

“Very early on as we watched the news around the world, our leadership team began discussion about the potential impact of this new infectious disease,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “We knew it was serious and took decisive action to help minimize the spread of this new virus.”

Gov. Anoatubby declared a public health emergency in the Chickasaw Nation March 17 and most businesses were closed to help contain the virus and protect the community.

“While we knew this decision would have a significant impact on tribal revenues, our priority was, and is, the health and safety of our citizens, community and team members.”


Despite an 11-week closure of many of tribal businesses and offices in 2020, the Chickasaw Nation financial base strengthened this year.

“Our strong financial base and capital reserves are crucial in supporting our Nation through this pandemic,” Gov. Anoatubby said.

Capital reserves supported more than 8,000 employees who were reassigned to shelter in place. Those reserves also supported the continuation of core programs and services for Chickasaw citizens.

“I am pleased to report the Chickasaw Nation continues to possess a strong financial base due to prudent actions, the responsible stewardship of many and reserves from past success,” Gov. Anoatubby said.


Health care has long been a high priority for the Chickasaw Nation, which operates a hospital, four clinics, eight pharmacies, a diabetes care center, emergency medical services, four nutrition centers, eight WIC offices and six wellness centers.

Technology and innovation have led to an expansion of virtual health care visits this year as a solution to continue to meet the healthcare needs of Chickasaws and First Americans.

“We expanded virtual visit capability across the Department of Health and developed plans to continue to offer high quality health care throughout this crisis and beyond,” Governor Anoatubby said.

The Chickasaw Nation Department of Health treated more than 52,000 patients virtually and the tribal pharmacy and pharmacy refill center filled more than two million prescriptions this year.

Also in 2020, a new and expanded pharmacy opened on the Ada South Campus.

Chickasaw Nation Area Community Health Representatives (CHRs) provided nearly 84,000 services to about 3,000 Chickasaws in 2020 and the Chickasaw Nation Department of Family Services provided more than 12,000 virtual therapy and counseling sessions and about 12,500 virtual program and service interactions in 2020.

More than 11,000 meals per month were served to Chickasaw elders this year, including during the pandemic.

“Our Department of Aging displays a dedication to our elders which never wavers,” he said.

Chickasaw Nation Transportation services provided about 28,500 rides to medical appointments for Chickasaws this year, as well.

A mental health initiative was recently instituted for Chickasaw citizens and employees that focuses on living healthier lives.

The Chickasaw Nation also currently operates four COVID-19 testing centers at Chickasaw Nation Health Clinics in Ardmore, Purcell and Tishomingo, and the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, Ada, which are open to the public.


The Chickasaw Nation COVID-19 Citizen Support Program was developed for all Chickasaws living in the U.S. who have experienced loss of income or other financial or situational impacts resulting from the current pandemic.

Assistance ranges from help purchasing personal protective equipment to devices needed for distance learning and homeschooling, telework packages and support for Chickasaw citizens who own their own businesses.

“We know many Chickasaw families across the United States have been significantly impacted from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Anoatubby said.


In an effort to continue connecting during a time of responsible distancing, the Chickasaw Nation launched new virtual communications, as well as transitioned programs to an online format.

Videos share information about a variety of topics from health and wellness to cultural and cooking resources at

To maintain responsible distancing guidelines, significant milestones of three Chickasaw Nation facilities were celebrated virtually this year. The McSwain Theatre, Ada, marked its 100th anniversary; the award-winning Chickasaw Nation Cultural Center, Sulphur, celebrated its 10th anniversary; and the Chickasaw Nation Medical Center, Ada, also celebrated a decade of service.


The Chickasaw Nation is building several new facilities to assist in combating the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Plans are underway for a 12,000-square-foot Chickasaw Nation Alternative Care Facility on the Ada South Campus, using CARES Act funds.

“This alternative care facility will allow for increased capacity to care for patients during health emergencies,” Gov. Anoatubby said. “It will also expand our ability to provide testing and training critical to improving COVID-19 mitigation measures.”

Renovations are also underway to convert a tribal building into a multi-use facility that will serve as a unified incident command center, offer COVID-19 drive-thru testing and vaccination site, and personal protective equipment storage.

The facility will be a distribution point for strategic inventory of supplies during times of emergency.


Historic court cases, which reaffirmed tribal sovereignty and upheld gaming compacts, were decided in 2020.

Gov. Anoatubby described the Supreme Court decision in the McGirt v. Oklahoma case as a “very significant decision.”

The court ruled the Muscogee Creek reservation established long before Oklahoma statehood had never been disestablished, thus holding the federal government to its treaty obligations. The ruling will eventually be applied to the Chickasaw Nation.

“Anticipating that, we are continuing our work to prepare,” he said.

A separate 2020 court decision affirmed renewal of the Chickasaw Nation gaming compact with the state of Oklahoma and confirmed the tribe’s position that the compacts renewed automatically.

The United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma ruled Tribal State gaming compacts in Oklahoma automatically renewed on January 1, 2020 for another 15-year term.

“Our gaming compact has served the Chickasaw Nation and Oklahomans - all Oklahomans - very well, and we can now count on it going forward for 15 additional years,” Gov. Anoatubby said.


Revitalizing Chickasaw culture and language remains a high priority and the Chickasaw Nation takes a comprehensive approach, which includes the Chickasaw Press, fitness applications, and online language and culture lessons.

Currently, more than 7,000 users are learning the Chickasaw language through Rosetta Stone. Rosetta Stone Chickasaw level 4 was released this year. This new installment of 40 immersive lessons builds on the previous three levels.

Language lessons are also available on social media.

The AYA fitness app, which teaches users about Chickasaw history and historical sites as they walk, has been downloaded more than 47,000 times on mobile devices.

KCNP Chickasaw Community Radio Station has expanded to serve the Garvin County area in 2020.

Other accomplishments this fiscal year include: opening of a new Chickasaw Nation Wellness Center in Ada, and a new Food Distribution Program site in Tishomingo; as well as a ground breaking for a new Chickasaw Nation Honor Guard facility in Ada.

More than $21.6 million in higher education grants and scholarships were awarded to more than 4,600 Chickasaw students.

Chickasaw Nation-owned Bank2 was rebranded as Chickasaw Community Bank to better reflect its values and commitment to those it serves.

“Chikasha Poya – we are Chickasaw. The Chickasaw people are strong and the State of the Chickasaw Nation is strong,” Gov. Anoatubby declared.