The traditions of the Choctaw Nation are integral ties defining our unique culture, heritage, and view of the world we live in. From carrying forward beadwork, cultural dancing, Stickball, cornsilk dolls, to celebrating our faith together through the singing of Choctaw hymns, our traditions reflect our faith, family and culture that we must protect and preserve for future tribal members. One of my first acts as Chief was to appoint Olin Williams as the Employee Chaplain. Olin is a minister, a counselor and a tribal historian, who has helped so many. Our Wisdom Council, another initiative implemented since I became Chief, is a way to ensure that we continue to seek guidance, advice, and input from those who have knowledge of previous generations to help us guard against failure and achieve success for our people.
I believe that we must revive, nurture, and foster more participation by our tribal members in those traditions that have shaped our Tribe since the beginning. I am pleased with the development this year of the Chapel at Tvshka Homma; I am heartened when I see young people learning the Chahta language, the numbers enrolled in Head Start, achieving education success, the jobs being created from our many business development activities; and the growth in the numbers of the enthusiastic youth participating in agriculture programs, in Stickball, in the Youth Advisory Boards – showing that our Tribe is alive and growing. Part of that revival and growth is being seen in enlarging our land acquisitions, development of our ranching operations, and the building of the planned new tribal headquarters and Cultural Center to highlight our heritage.
We must continue to nurture support for our traditions and celebrate our uniqueness as Chahta people. I am very pleased with the new license plate program begun just this January, and every time I see a vehicle with a Choctaw car tag with the Chahta Sia Hoke inscription on the plate – instills a constant remembrance and pride of our tribal heritage.
Our caring heart and servant leader attitude is shown by our tradition and reverence for our ways and respect for those who have gone before us. Our care of the Elders of our Tribe are important aspects of that. Programs that help the poor and needy, including our opening of the Durant Food Distribution Market Place this year, show our community that we place high priority on those most vulnerable. Our commitment to fighting health threats through preventative activities and state of the art health provisions shows that we will fight and win to keep our Nation healthy and strong for the future. And our active care of our environment through green initiatives expansion, defense of water rights, and developing sustainability plans show that we are determined to provide both today and tomorrow to our descendants the beautiful land our ancestors envisioned for our Nation. We believe in the future of our Tribe, as our ancestors made sacrifices to make sure that our Tribe was sustained, so must we place priority on educating our children to be prepared to face challenges and gain success in the generations ahead. All of those traditions, the voices of our people and the dreams of our ancestors, reminds me daily that we must make “Doing what is best for Chahtas” the key to achieving our 100 Year Vision.
Chahta Sia Hoke!