Vol. LIV No. 4
April 2019

Construction of Ada headquarters a portent of good things to come

Events surrounding construction of the Chickasaw Nation headquarters in Ada could now be seen to foreshadow growth and development experienced by the tribe since its completion.

Prior to construction of the headquarters, tribal employees occupied offices in the Chickasaw Motor Inn. Purchased in 1972, it was the first business owned and operated by the Chickasaw Nation. That successful business was the beginning of economic development efforts that have grown exponentially, enabling us to offer a wide variety of opportunities to the Chickasaw people.

Once opened, part of the business property was converted to office space for tribal employees. Many of those employees were Community Health Representatives (CHR’s) who worked in the field.

In 1975, the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (Act) marked a significant positive shift in the government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government. That Act served as the foundation for meaningful advancement in tribal self-determination which would enable the Chickasaw Nation to make substantial progress over the next several decades.

When the Act was implemented, many more federal programs became available. In addition to more funding, the Act enabled the Chickasaw Nation to begin the process of taking more responsibility for services to our people.

While the formal mission statement so familiar today had not yet been developed, Chickasaw Nation employees were focused daily on what they could do to enhance the quality of life of the Chickasaw people.

Then, as now, offering opportunities for employment was one of the most effective ways to enhance the quality of life.

As programs and services were added, the tribe was able to begin addressing the needs of the Chickasaw people, which included creating new jobs to administer those services. As the tribe grew, much more office space was needed.

Chickasaw Nation planners wrote an application for a grant to build a new building. The grant was subsequently awarded.

After a site competition and much debate, members of the governor’s advisory council voted to build a new facility in Ada, at its present location.

The decision to build in Ada marked an important milestone in a long and mutually beneficial relationship between the Chickasaw Nation and the City.

The Local Public Works grant required 75 percent of the funds be earmarked for labor while 25 percent was for materials. This ratio was unusual and was a challenge in the construction of the headquarters building.

The project achieved two goals by offering new employment opportunities during the construction of the building and provided new office space for employees.

When construction was complete in early 1977, the Chickasaw Times published a letter of congratulations from Ada City Manager Leonard Briley. The letter noted that city officials looked forward to working with the Chickasaw Nation, who they expected to develop “many services that will improve the quality of life of all people of this part of Oklahoma.”

During latter days of construction, growth in the number of employees continued to rise. Looking toward the future needs of our people, a grant application for expansion of the building was submitted while construction of the original building was still underway.

By the time construction on the 8,000 square-foot building was complete, the tribe was awarded a grant to enlarge the building and add more office space.

Exercising good stewardship, the tribe was able to add three new wings to the original building, doubling the size of the facility to 16,000 square-feet by March, 1978.

That historic example of anticipating the needs of our people and taking action to meet those needs, set the stage for the mission and vision we continue to embrace today.

Every day, we work to “enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people” as we strive to meet our vision “to be a nation of successful and united people with a strong cultural identity.”

It is our hope that the actions we take today set a similar positive example for generations to come.