Photo by Lisa Reed/Choctaw Nation-
Chief Gary Batton speaks after being named a 2017 Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador by Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday, April 3 at the annual gala at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum In Oklahoma City.
DURANT – Chief Gary Batton was honored alongside country music star and television host of “The Voice” Blake Shelton and celebrity chef, restaurateur and author Rick Bayless this week in Oklahoma City. Creative Oklahoma selected eight individuals as 2017 Oklahoma Creativity Ambassadors on Monday, April 3 at the annual gala held this year at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.
Gov. Mary Fallin and Creative Oklahoma also recognized as new Oklahoma Creativity Ambassadors Robert Hefner III, petroleum geologist, author and philanthropist; Harvey Pratt, forensic artist; Sam Presti, general manager of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder; Chris Harrison, TV host of “The Bachelor”; and Annie Funke, Broadway and TV actress.
Gov. Fallin pointed out how much and how quickly the event had grown, noting that 400 were present this year and it had to be moved to a larger venue.
“Creativity is vital to the future of the state of Oklahoma,” Gov. Fallin said. “I too remember back to 2006 when we started having conversations about forming a Creative Oklahoma and all the different divisions of what that meant within our state, and how it’s a unique concept… But if we want to grow, we need to develop innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and talent within our state.”
Speaking directly to the honorees, Gov. Fallin said, “Tonight you are here being recognized by your community, your peers, your friends to say ‘thank you and congratulations for all your tremendous success’.”
Upon receiving his medal from Gov. Fallin, Chief Batton said, “Faith, family, and culture have always been what I focus on.” He spoke of tribal history with a mention of the Trail of Tears-origin of the Oklahoma Choctaw, and personal history with a nod to his wife-of-30-years Angie, and friends present who went through the first grade in the school with him.
Saying that he was “honored and proud” to receive the award, he joked about his lack of traditional creativity “I can’t draw a stick man,” but, said he feels his creativity is “in pulling people together.”
He concluded with words in Choctaw, “Yakoke: Thank you very much” and “The Choctaw people don’t say goodbye, we say, ‘Chi pisa la chike: Until we see each other again’.”
Chief Batton is the 47th Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the third largest Indian tribe in the United States. Chief Batton set a clear direction for his administration in his 2014 inaugural address – to create a better future for the Choctaw people. He works to protect tribal culture, provide opportunities for education, improve health care, and employment for Choctaws. The additional facilities and programs have added more than 2,000 jobs in southeastern Oklahoma during his first two years as Chief. Under Chief Batton’s administration, the Choctaw Nation opened a large expansion to its health clinic in Poteau, three new wellness centers, two Chili’s franchises, a Travel Plaza in Antlers, an expansion to its resort in Durant, a community center in McAlester, two food distribution centers, a Choctaw Country Market and two new independent living communities for Choctaw elders. He also created several new programs to assist tribal members like the Next Step supplemental food program, Reintegration, and Job for the Day. More growth is in the planning and construction phases, including more markets, Head Starts, independent living communities a wellness center, a community center, a travel plaza and a new five-story tribal headquarters, to name a few. Chief Batton and his wife Angie make their home in Clayton. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Creative Oklahoma is a non-profit organization advancing the state’s economy through development, promotion, and celebration of Oklahoma’s creativity and innovation in education, commerce and culture.
Registration Open for Candidates, Voters in Choctaw Nation Elections
DURANT – The Choctaw Nation Election Board goes into session Monday, April 10 for the 2017 elections. Filing for Choctaw Nation Tribal Council elections is only days away with the election itself set for mid-summer. The Choctaw Nation Election Board will be in session for the duration of the election to oversee the process.
Every two years there are six seats on the 12-person Tribal Council up for election. Seats to be filled in 2017 include Districts 4, 6, 7, 9, 10 and 12. An election will not be held in the event that a candidate for elected office runs unopposed.
The filing period for the 2017 elections will begin at 8 a.m. Monday, April 17. The three-day window will end at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19.
The 2017 elections will be held on Saturday, July 8.
Prospective candidates for Tribal Council must file notarized Declarations of Candidacy with the Choctaw Nation Election Board during the filing period and pay a $500 filing fee. The Choctaw Nation Election Board and Choctaw Nation Voter Registration Department can answer questions regarding filing for candidacy and the elections
Also, tribal election information, including the current Ordinance, can be found on the Choctaw Nation website at www.ChoctawNation.com/government/tribal-elections.
The Voter Registration Department can help tribal members update their information and understand the election process. Unlike past years, the Voter Registration Department in 2017 will not close before Election Day, which allows eligible tribal members to continually update their information.
Ballots will be mailed to all registered voters who have updated their information with the Voter Registration Department in advance of the election. Otherwise, tribal members may bring their voter registration profile up to date at any polling site on the day of the elections. However, all eligible tribal members are highly encouraged to update their information before the election at the Voter Registration Department.
“It is important to update voter information,” said Candace Perkins, Director of Voter Registration. “It allows us to maintain a current voting list that is distributed to candidates by the Election Board. It also reduces the amount of undeliverable mail.”
For information, the Choctaw Nation Election Board may be contacted at the Choctaw Nation Voter Registration Department, 1205 W. Main, Durant, OK 74701, or 800-522-6170 Ext. 2199.