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‘The Chickasaw Nation is strong because the people are strong’


Cutline: Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby reports the state of the Chickasaw Nation is “strong because the people are strong” during his annual address Oct. 5 at the Chickasaw Nation Annual Meeting at Murray State College in Tishomingo. Annual Meeting caps off a week of Chickasaw events and celebrations during the Chickasaw Nation Annual Meeting and Festival.


During his annual State of the Nation address, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said that advances in economic development, cultural preservation and community services have enhanced the lives of the Chickasaw people.

“The Chickasaw Nation is strong, because the Chickasaw people are strong,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Chickasaw people are achieving new levels of personal success that allows them to have a positive impact on the lives of others. We believe it is vital to lift up our fellow Chickasaws and our neighbors.” 

Gov. Anoatubby delivered the address Saturday, Oct. 5, to a standing-room-only crowd in Fletcher auditorium, as well as an adjacent overflow tent on the Murray State College campus. A live stream of the address was available online.

Business development

In 2019, Chickasaw Nation businesses achieved record revenues and profits. This fiscal year, net profits from core business operations have increased by 15 percent, while net assets grew by 11 percent.

“Our commitment to financial stability, accountability and responsible stewardship makes our nation strong,” said Governor Anoatubby. “As our businesses have prospered, we have also been able to invest in new opportunities and diversify our portfolio.” 

Chickasaw Nation Industries, (CNI) a federally-chartered corporation established in 1996 for $50,000 now has revenues of more than $350 million annually.

“CNI is on track to reach another record for revenue this fiscal year, and even conservative estimates indicate that since 2015, CNI has grown 75 percent,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Part of that growth is Filtra-Systems and their SCOUT mobile filtration system, which has the potential to revolutionize the oil and gas industry, and its voyager community water treatment system which will solve challenges of rural communities throughout the United States.”

This cost efficient, environmentally friendly system is expanding into new markets and reduces the demand on streams and aquifers. The CNI manufacturing plant in Marietta has operated at record levels to keep up with the demand for its products.

The Chickasaw Nation purchased the facility in 2004, when previous owner Siemens announced it would close the 100,000 square foot metal fabricating plant. Keeping the facility open saved dozens of local jobs, and employment has increased since.


“We work to ensure business diversification and economic development includes a focus on local communities,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We have worked hard to be good neighbors. We continue to partner with communities to provide vital resources and infrastructure that benefit all Oklahomans.

“In the modern world, perhaps the most important infrastructure resource is fast, reliable internet. Trace Fiber Networks is bridging the technology gap affecting small towns and rural communities within Chickasaw Country by building a reliable fiber-optic network.”

To date, Chickasaw Nation owned Trace Fiber Networks has installed nearly 180 miles of buried fiber-optic cable. Once completed, the nearly 500-mile fiber-optic network will connect over 40 communities and schools. This network will provide unsurpassed speed and connectivity to offices, schools, hospitals, clinics, libraries and homes, as well as more than 100 Chickasaw Nation-owned businesses. 

“Our commitment to build community and partnerships with our neighbors makes our nation strong.,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “We have worked hard to be good neighbors. Our roads program continues to partner with local governments to improve local streets, highways, county roads and bridges.” 

This year alone, the Chickasaw Nation committed more than $6 million to joint projects to resurface or construct 22 miles of roadway.

In Tishomingo, the Chickasaw Nation is working closely with the city to improve the municipal water infrastructure.

Since it was re-established 15 years ago, the Chickasaw Lighthorse Police Department has worked closely with local, state and federal agencies. To date, the Lighthorse Police has 48 cross deputation agreements with city, county, state and federal law enforcement agencies, allowing them to work together to protect and serve our communities.

Recently, the Chickasaw Nation WIC program launched a mobile unit to travel to remote rural sites, making WIC services accessible to residents in those areas.


Growth in business revenues benefits education services in several areas, including increases in the amount of scholarships and text book grants.

“This past year, we invested more than $25 million in scholarships, grants and other forms of financial support to more than 5,400 Chickasaw students.”

The tribe increased the amount of scholarships for tuition, the number of credit hours funded per semester and the amount of the text book grant. This fall, a higher education grant was introduced to help with tuition and enrollment fees.

Earlier this year, the Chickasaw Nation completed a new Head Start facility in Sulphur with increased enrollment capacity. The new facility has four classrooms, a safe room and an expanded playground and cafeteria.

This past year, the Chickasaw Honor Club awarded incentives to more than 2,700 Chickasaw students and distributed nearly 6,700 awards to encourage excellent academic performance.

Training has begun on the Chickasaw Heritage Series Curriculum, which brings Chickasaw history into the classroom.

“The curriculum was developed cooperatively with state educators to meet state academic standards and to share the story of who we are with the next generation of Oklahomans,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “This will be the first time that many Oklahoma students will learn about the influential role the Chickasaw Nation played in U.S. and world history.”

Health Care

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 five wellness centers.

This year alone, the tribe served more than 970,000 patient encounters, delivered more than 785 babies, filled more than 1.9 million prescriptions, served more than 88,000 meals to children, saw more than 154,000 visits to its wellness centers, served more than 5,300 Chickasaws with eyeglass assistance and served more than 7,000 citizens with financial assistance to help with medical and dental costs.

Through a partnership with Oklahoma State University, the Chickasaw Nation Family Medicine Residency Program Clinic opened on the third floor of the medical center this year.

“The Family Residency Program has both economic and social benefits for our community,” said Gov. Anoatubby. “Graduates of medical residency programs tend to settle and establish a practice or become an active provider where they have trained.


Revitalizing Chickasaw culture and language is also a high priority. Therefore, the Chickasaw Nation takes a comprehensive approach, which includes the Chickasaw Press, fitness applications, online language lessons, stomp dance and traditional games.

Dozens of young Chickasaws are learning stomp dances through the Chickasaw Young Dancers program. This year, a Chickasaw Nation women’s stickball team was formed and has about 50 members.

Rosetta Stone Chickasaw level 3 was released this year. This new installment of 40 immersive lessons builds on the previous two levels, and bringing language learners one step closer to fluency.  

Since opening in 2010, the Chickasaw Cultural Center has shared Chickasaw culture with more than 820,000 visitors from around the world. The center has also won 13 awards this past fiscal year, including two conservation awards for our monarch butterfly repopulation initiative.

“Our nation is strong because we know who we are and continue to keep our culture, language and traditions alive,” said Gov. Anoatubby.





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Chickasaw Nation Governor renews commitment to serve


Cutline: Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, center, is joined by his family at Chickasaw Nation Inauguration ceremonies, Oct. 1 in Ada. From left, Preslea Anoatubby, Chloe Anoatubby, Brendan Anoatubby, Janice Anoatubby, Governor Anoatubby, Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby, Becky Anoatubby, Eryn Anoatubby, and Sydney Anoatubby



ADA, Oklahoma – An October 1 inauguration ceremony marked the beginning of an unprecedented ninth consecutive term for Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. The ceremony was conducted on the East Central University campus in a theater named for Chickasaw Hall of Fame member Ataloa.
“It is a great honor to serve as Governor of the great unconquered and unconquerable Chickasaw Nation,” said Governor Anoatubby. “Together, we have made great progress and accomplished much for our people and our nation. We can look forward to a bright and promising future as we continue to thrive and support the dreams of Chickasaws around the world.”
Other Chickasaw Nation elected officials sworn into office include newly-elected Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby, Supreme Court Justice Mark Colbert and tribal legislators Lisa Johnson Billy, Linda Briggs, Derrick Priddy and Beth Alexander.
“It is an incredible privilege to work with you to serve Chickasaws,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Governor Anoatubby began his 44-year career with the Chickasaw Nation in 1975 as health services director. He was elected as Lt. Governor in 1979, and served in that role until he was elected Governor in 1987. He has led the Chickasaw Nation to exponential growth in economic development as well as a comparably rapid expansion of services.
“In 1987, we set out to develop a sound economy for the Chickasaw Nation, to celebrate our rich heritage and to safeguard our sovereignty,” said Governor Anoatubby. “We have accomplished many of those goals and found new and exciting ways to continue in fulfilling our mission.”  
Currently, the Chickasaw Nation supports more than 22,000 jobs and $1.2 billion in wages and benefits as part of a $3.7 billion annual economic contribution to the Oklahoma economy. More than 100 businesses are included in a diverse portfolio, including gaming, hospitality, tourism, banking, manufacturing, fine chocolate and other industries.
“We continue to have a firm financial foundation, as our businesses strive every day to sustain our mission and enhance the lives of our people,” said Governor Anoatubby. “And they will continue to generate the revenue needed to grow our services and programs by reaching new markets, developing new business opportunities, and continuing to concentrate on good stewardship of our resources.”
Today, the Chickasaw Nation operates more than 100 successful businesses in gaming, hospitality, tourism, banking, manufacturing, chocolate and other industries. Business revenues provide the majority of funding for more than 200 programs and services available to the Chickasaw people and other Native Americans.
Education is one example. Expanded education offerings serve more students in early education as well as offering scholarships for higher education and vocational training. In addition, the tribe recently implemented a new division devoted to helping prepare Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers.
Special emphasis is placed on developing and mentoring young Chickasaw leaders through programs such as internships, career development and a youth leadership program.
“We support these new leaders through higher education programs across all fields, from health to business to government and academia,” Governor Anoatubby said. “We have been working for many years to ensure a sustainable future for our people.”
In addition to providing grants and scholarships totaling almost $20 million annually to more than 5,000 students, the Chickasaw Nation operates four early childhood centers, in Ada, Ardmore, Tishomingo and Sulphur, which serve more than 330 students. A range of STEM programs are also offered, which introduce students to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Other educational opportunities include a Career Technology program, adult learning, fine arts training and tribal division dedicated to preparing Chickasaws for viable, sustainable careers.
Health Care
Significant strides in health care include a state-of-the-art 370,000 square-foot hospital, four clinics, eight pharmacies, a diabetes care center, emergency medical services, four nutrition centers, eight WIC offices and five wellness centers.
An increased focus on supporting healthy lifestyles is an integral part of the health care strategy moving forward. 
“We have made great strides in the area of physical health,” said Governor Anoatubby. “But we have more that we need to do in areas of prevention. This year, we are placing stronger emphasis on the complete health of each individual with a strategic focus on mental wellness.”
The Chickasaw Nation has also expanded and improved housing services to help meet the needs of Chickasaws in all walks of life. Those services include rental assistance as well as an increased emphasis on home ownership, including programs to facilitate home loans.
“As the housing market and the desires of people change, we will continue to develop innovative and creative solutions to solve housing needs,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Thousands of Chickasaw utilize home loan programs to make homeownership a reality.
Housing assistance for Chickasaws across the United States includes the installation of storm shelters as well as grants for closing costs. Repairs and home improvements.
“We treasure our elders and continue to learn much from their wisdom and experience,” Governor Anoatubby said.
Many programs are offered to enhance the lives of Chickasaw elders, including operation of 11 senior centers in communities throughout southern Oklahoma and one under construction in Achille, Oklahoma. These senior centers served more than 163,000 meals this year and offer programs which focus on fellowship and health. Chore services, a senior golf academy and a foster grandparent program are also offered to Chickasaw seniors.
“Our youth programs are an important investment in developing strong individuals, and a strong nation,” said Governor Anoatubby.
Camps, academies, sports and leadership programs are offered year-round and are designed to build character, leadership, life skills and fitness. Clothing grants and reimbursement grants are also provided to ensure that youth can focus on academics without financial distractions.
“Our cultural identity is what guides us and informs our most crucial decisions, which is why cultural preservation and education efforts are so vital,” said Governor Anoatubby.
The Chickasaw Cultural Center, Sulphur, continues its mission of telling the Chickasaw story and sharing tribal traditions and culture. Since its 2010 opening, the cultural center has hosted more than 800,000 guests from across the globe.
Expanded programs, events, cultural and language classes also help Chickasaw citizens, employees and community members learn about the Chickasaw people and customs.
Blending modern technology with historical tradition, the Rosetta Stone Chickasaw app is also available, making the Chickasaw language easily accessible. More than 120 Rosetta Stone Chickasaw lessons have been developed through a collaboration between fluent Chickasaw speakers and Rosetta Stone. 



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American Indian Cultural Center & Museum resumes construction phase, on track for opening May 2021

Rosemary Stephens

For years the American Indian Cultural Center & Museum (AICCM) has sat dormant leaving a lot of people wondering if the once envisioned cultural center and museum would ever reach its final stage.

That time has begun.

The construction phase has commenced, 13 years after the original ground blessing was performed and seven years after construction was halted on the project.

“A lot of things happened … the original designs of this facility go all the way back to 1999. The first drawings and concepts came out in the early 2000s, and then there was a ground blessing ceremony held here in 2006 and they broke ground that year and started construction,” Jim Henry, AICCM director said. “In 2008 the economy took a turn for the worse and we had a couple of bad tornadoes in Moore that put some pressure on the state budge for disaster relief, and the legislature got a little bit more conservative and didn’t view this project the way the previous legislature had viewed this project. So all of those factors contributed to the state pulling their funding away from this project.”

In the original planning stages, the state of Oklahoma could see the AICCM as a way to attract more tourists and international visitors to the state. The project got started with sites being looked at in the Tulsa area and in Edmond, when the current location was finally decided upon. But the site was originally an old oil field, Oil Field #1, with over 50 oil rigs back in the early 1900s, so there was a lot of clean up the state performed in preparation to build the AICCM.

“It’s a great location because it’s literally at the crossroads of America. We’ve got highways I-40, I-35, I-235 and I-44 is not too far away and ODOT tells us over 120,000 cars drive right by us every single day on those highways and it’s even more in the summer time. In terms of location, it’s a great location,” Henry said.

Although it’s been seven years since any construction has taken place, what had been done has been well maintained over the years, making the pathway smoother to resuming construction Henry explained.

“They maintained what had been done on the project, and fortunately for us the shell of the building had been completed and the HVAC system was in place to maintain the environmental controls in the facility. They stopped construction in 2012 and a lot of people think this building has just gone foul; well it hasn’t because we’ve been maintaining the facility all this time. We’ve had round the clock security, the climate control, HVAC system has been running this whole time, so it’s been maintained very well. The building is in great shape, even though there isn’t anything in it … yet,” Henry said as he looked through the tall glass windows peering to the center circle of the structure.

When the deal was struck with the state to get the AICCM project up and going again it was about the same time as the OKPOP Museum project in Tulsa, Okla., was also being funded. The state set aside money for the OKPOP project and at the same time set aside money for the AICCM project.

“Originally they pledged $40 million if we would go out and raise $40 million in other dollars to match it. So we did. We went out and raised a little over $40 million to get the project going again and then the state came back and said, ‘well we can’t do $40 million now, we can only do $25 million.’ But that left us about $15 million short. So we scaled down the project to a $65 million project to get it going again. We are still trying to go out and raise the additional $15 million so we can add back some of the things we had to scale back on. We are about $8 million into that $15 million raised and have 18 months to raise the additional $7 million and we’ve had support from almost every tribe in Oklahoma,” Henry said.

Henry’s belief is tribes were reluctant to be a part of the project in the beginning because it was a state project and the state was the one who was going to receive the sale tax revenue from the cultural center and the state was saying this was really for the tribes so the tribes should be paying for this, “but really it’s to serve both contingencies because it’s for all of us, for the people of Oklahoma, for the tribes of Oklahoma, and it will help bring more people to Oklahoma,” he said.

With all the background information put aside, Henry’s excitement comes shining through when he began talking about the upcoming plans for the cultural center and the impact it will have, not only on tribal members but the public as a whole.

“This really means a lot to me personally because of the stories we are trying to tell. I don’t know if a non-Native or non-tribal member would have the same level of passion and the sense of importance of this (project). To me, this is probably the most important thing I will do in my professional career, is to finish this project, to get it up and running and sustainable because it’s also telling my family’s stories. This is my story, this is your story and I don’t know how many thousands of tribal members are here in Oklahoma but this is all of our story. I’m happy to say my curatorial team here; we are all tribal members from here in Oklahoma. I didn’t hire someone from like the east coast to do this. We got people here that understand the histories and we are able to tell our stories from our perspectives,” Henry said.

The main takeaway Henry and his team hope people will take with them after visiting the cultural center and museum is ‘we’re still here, we still exist.’

“We’re not living in the past, we have a continuum of our cultures and our heritages but in this modern world we live in. Our cultures are still rich and vibrant, we haven’t lost our cultural lifeways and we want people to understand that. And we have such diversity here in Oklahoma. We have different customs, different languages, different artistic styles, and a lot of people don’t understand there is such diversity here,” Henry said.

He compares what happened in Oklahoma with all the different tribes being relocated from all around the United States to Oklahoma to the analogy of taking every country in Europe, not in terms of population but in terms of languages, beliefs and customs and moving everybody to a place the size of England.

“When people think of it that way they are life, ‘oh my God. You’re putting Portuguese in with Norwegians and Czechoslovakians, and you are putting them all in the same place.’ And that’s what happened here basically,” Henry said.

The AICCM is already working with Oklahoma City school districts and adjacent school districts to not only get kids to the cultural center, but helping to develop curriculum that will match their experience when they visit the cultural center and to start incorporating some of the Native perspective on history that kids are not learning in the history books.

“The true history of America is not the history you read about in the history books. That’s the colonial history of America and there are many other perspectives about the history of our country and we are looking to get 50,000 school kids in here a year. Usually it’s the fourth graders and eighth graders because that’s when they teach American Indian history in schools,” Henry said. “It’s a real opportunity to share all of our collective heritages because it’s not just one it’s 39, and to share all of this with the broader public. And to tell our stories. And to be honest and truthful about the displacement of the tribes, the relocations and it’s not a fairy tale story. Terrible things happened to the tribes when they arrived here and before they arrived here. The removal was terrible, coming here and the allotment act that broke up tribal lands, then boarding schools for four generations where children were taken and sent away to have our culture and language removed from them. But despite all of that our perseverance has prevailed.”

One of the major changes Henry and his team made to the cultural center was the implementation of a full service restaurant because as Henry said, “how can you share your culture if you’re not sharing the food of your culture?” They are hoping to source their foods from the tribes who grow their own produce and have their own bison herd, including the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes’ bison herd.

“Real Indigenous foods, like bison, salmon. When people think of Native food they think frybread and Indian Tacos, but that’s commodity foods not real Indigenous foods of our culture. We are putting in a full service kitchen. It will be a 115-seat restaurant experience, and we are working with Loretta Barrett Oden, who is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, an award winning Native chef. She had her own cooking show on PBS for a while and she won an Emmy for her cooking show. So we are working with her to create this unique Native menu, traditional recipes with a modern twist to them. These are all good foods good for you, they’re delicious, they’re healthy and they help tell the stories of our tribes here in Oklahoma,” Henry said.

Another major change Henry implemented was changing the 900 square foot gift shop into a 4,000 square foot gift shop where they will showcase authentic Native handmade items from the many talented artists living right here in Oklahoma.

“Selling unique one of a kind hand crafted items from our Native artisans, the real deals and there is not a central venue for them to sell their art,” Henry said.

And there are many more exciting plans taking shape, from hands-on children’s activities, stepping into different seasons through virtual reality to hosting live dance performances and so much more left to be unveiled.

“We see the 39 tribes of Oklahoma as our constituents. That we have a special obligation to provide services and other support to the tribes versus having them be a customer, so to speak. This facility will be open for the tribes to use, if they want to have language classes here, or programming. We will have meeting rooms so if the tribes have meetings here in the city with other tribes or businesses we can provide those amenities where they can have a meeting place here. More discounts for tribal members because we feel that special obligation to the tribes. If the tribes want to have their cultural activities, dances, we can make arrangements to have that happen here,” Henry said. “Oklahoma City has a large urban Indian population with almost every tribe in the state having members living in Oklahoma City and members of tribes outside of Oklahoma that live here in Oklahoma City also. We want to be the living room for the tribal community.”


James Pepper Henry, an enrolled member of Kaw Nation, has been involved in The American Indian Center’s development since 2004 when he helped inform the conceptual design. In 2007, as associate director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, he signed the Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions, which created the possibility of a long-term loan, as well as collaborative programming opportunities.

Henry served as Executive Director of the Gilcrease Museum, where he helped lead the successful $65 million Vision Tax extension campaign for the museum expansion and helped raise $27 million in additional support through the museum’s partnership with The University of Tulsa. Prior to the Gilcrease Museum he served as Director and CEO of the Heard Museum in Phoenix, AZ, increasing museum attendance by 58 percent and memberships by 150 percent. He also served as Executive Director/CEO for a six-year tenure at the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center, Alaska’s premier art, history and science institution, where he oversaw the completion of the museum’s $110 million, 80,000-square-foot expansion. His wealth of experience will greatly benefit the American Indian Center as construction resumes in the fall. In 2010, he oversaw development of The Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, establishing a long-term loan of materials similar to what will be accomplished between The American Indian Cultural Center and Museum and The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, including working with Ralph Appelbaum Associates on both projects.

Henry is a graduate of the University of Oregon and a graduate of the Getty Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, CA. He is a board member of the American Alliance of Museums, a national organization overseeing museum accreditation, and a board member of the Western Museums Association. He serves on the Oklahoma Art in Public Places Oversight Committee and serves as a commissioner on the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission. He also serves as a board member for the Mvskoke Arts Association, a nonprofit organization that advocates for Mvskoke Arts and Artists.

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Otoe-Missouria Tribe Agrees to Charter Bacone College


The Otoe-Missouria Tribe of Indians voted unanimously to charter Bacone College on
August 8, 2019. Otoe-Missouria Tribal Council Chairman John R. Shotton executed the
resolution at the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Headquarters in Red Rock where he formally
announced the tribe’s decision to charter Bacone College as it applies for tribal college

“This partnership is important in our effort to provide higher educational opportunities for
our students, “ said Chairman Shotton. “Education is a key that we believe will open
many doors of opportunities for our students and our Otoe-Missouria people.”

The Otoe-Missouria Tribal Council resolution chartering Bacone College as a Tribal
College is the third resolution from an Oklahoma federally-recognized tribe, including
the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians and the Osage Nation.

“We appreciate the Otoe-Missouria Tribe’s leadership in forming a consortium of
Oklahoma tribes to transform Bacone College into a Tribal College,” said Dr. Ferlin

Clark, Bacone College President. “The leadership of our tribes uniting to help us
become a tribal college will help sustain Bacone College into the long-term future, it’s
good medicine.”

“The support from the Otoe-Missouria Tribe, along with the Osage and Keetoowah
Tribes, and other tribes we are talking to, is a movement to unite our Oklahoma tribes
around our fire of education,” said Archie Mason (Osage), President of the Bacone
College Board of Trustees. “It’s time for our Native American nations in Oklahoma to
come together, both small and large tribes, to invest in the education of our children and


About Bacone College

Bacone College was founded in 1880 as Indian University with a mission to educate
American Indians, and is the oldest continuously operated institution of higher education
in the state. The college has historic ties to various tribal nations and is affiliated with
American Baptist Home Mission Society. Bacone College’s current president is Dr.
Ferlin Clark of the Navajo (Dine) Nation. He is the fourth Native American president of
Bacone College in its 139 years of existence.

About the Otoe-Missouria Tribe

Today most of the nearly 3,300 tribal members still live in the state of Oklahoma, but
there are members who live throughout the United States including New Jersey,
California, Hawaii and Alaska. The tribe is still one of the smaller tribes in Oklahoma,

but led by a progressive Tribal Council, they have parlayed their gaming revenue into
long-term investment in other sustainable industries including retail ventures, loan
companies, agriculture, natural resource development, hospitality, entertainment and
several other projects still in development. Tribal members perpetuate tribal traditions
with feasts, dances, an annual powwow and song leaders continue lineage, clan and
tribal ties.

Mindi Kee, VP of Development
August 9, 2019
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