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Choctaw Nation – News

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The official movie poster of the documentary “For Military Merit” touches emotions of what the Veterans Airlift Command is all about.

Film on Veterans Airlift Command Puts Focus on Choctaw Nation

DURANT, Okla. – Filmmaker Nik Coleman has 14 documentaries to his credit. His newest, co-produced by the Choctaw Nation, will have its world premiere at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 10. The film, titled “For Military Merit,” sheds light on a community service of the Choctaw Nation. It tells the story of the Veterans Airlift Command. VAC states that it “provides free air transportation to post 9/11 combat wounded and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.”

“It was an honor to be approached to make the official VAC documentary. We’re thankful to producers Phil Tholen and the Choctaw Nation, under the guidance of Chief Gary Batton, for their generous assistance to make this important program,” Coleman said. He added, “The Choctaw Nation has demonstrated, not only by their philanthropy but by their actions and work with the VAC, the desire to live out the creed of ‘Faith, Family, and Culture’.”

“For Military Merit” is the inscription on the back of the Purple Heart, the medal awarded to American servicemen who are injured while on duty.

Texas-based Coleman, originally from the United Kingdom, said the Choctaw Nation is spotlighted in the film because of the tribe’s close ties to the project. The Choctaw Nation has three pilots and owns two planes that fly tribal associates to long-distance and time-sensitive meetings. When not in use for tribal business, the aircraft are used to transport combat wounded and their families in the Veterans Airlift Command. “It’s much less stressful for these wounded veterans than traveling commercial,” Coleman said.

The film will premiere at Hero Flight 2018, the annual two-day fundraiser for VAC. Coleman hopes to have a showing of “For Military Merit” in Durant shortly. “It would be great for the Choctaw people to see this,” he said.

For more about the film “For Military Merit” visit https://www.formilitarymerit.com/.


Photo by Deidre K. Elrod / Choctaw Nation

Chief Gary Batton reads the official proclamation naming November as Native American Heritage Month for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma at the tribe’s Heritage Day celebration on Nov. 5.

Choctaw Nation Chief Declares Native American Heritage Month

DURANT, Okla. – Chief Gary Batton proclaimed November as Native American Heritage Month for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma at the tribe’s Heritage Day celebration on Nov. 5. The first Monday of each month is Heritage Day at facilities throughout the Choctaw Nation, where many displays and presentations are held to celebrate the occasion. At the opening act at the Choctaw Nation Headquarters, Chief Batton said, “Let us remember those who came before us, let us be thankful, and let us help others.” After citing activities planned for the month ahead, he read the Proclamation.

It states in part,

… Whereas, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma celebrates and honors our Chahta people who were resilient with determination to survive and settle in our new home in Oklahoma to prosper as a great nation;
Now, therefore, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma recognizes and officially proclaims the month of November as
“Native American Heritage Month”
For sustaining our traditional identity, culture, and values, for we are proud Choctaws, “Chahta Sia Hoke”…

For a look at the Choctaw Nation’s Native American Heritage Month plans throughout southeastern Oklahoma, visit online https://www.choctawnation.com/history-culture/heritage-day.


Photo by Deidre K. Elrod / Choctaw Nation
Loading boxes of new weather band radios are Choctaw Nation Emergency Management staff, from left, Carminia Magby, Amber Gammon, and Dempsey Kraft.

Choctaw Nation Makes Serving a Priority

DURANT, Okla. – The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is setting the standard for servant leadership in southeastern Oklahoma. Chief Gary Batton, citing the most recent figure totals available, said in his 2018 State of the Nation address on Labor Day, “The Fiscal Year 2016 Economic Impact made by the Choctaw Nation, accelerating opportunities for growth and prosperity for the tribe and the State of Oklahoma, was $1,868,451,097.” That nearly two-billion-dollar figure has only grown over the past couple of years. All 88 public schools within the 10½ counties receive donations each year. Those funds are submitted to the superintendents’ offices to be used at their discretion. This allows local determination of priorities within each district.

A visible sign of aid is Choctaw Nation Emergency Management. In response to Hurricane Florence, a five-member team organized by Choctaw Nation Emergency Management deployed to North Carolina for two weeks. Earlier deployments by Choctaw Nation Emergency Management have been to Atlanta in 2017 to help in the Home Depot Emergency Operation Center, and a response team was also sent to Key West, Florida to aid in Hurricane Irma relief.

Also, residents of the Choctaw Nation’s 10½ counties of southeast Oklahoma have benefitted in less dramatic, but no less critical ways on a daily basis. The counties of Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Latimer, LeFlore, McCurtain, Pittsburg and Pushmataha have seen significant improvements on 18 county roads for a total expenditure of $31,555,690.28 in just the past three years. The 36.7 miles of construction have called for widening, leveling, resurfacing, ditching, redesign of utility lines, fencing, and signage. Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. sees this effort from multiple angles. “Our ability to assist with the many roads and bridges across the Choctaw Nation is a great opportunity to partner with county officials to provide safe driving conditions for our tribal members, along with their neighbors from their communities on current roadways in need of attention,” Austin said. In addition to the roadwork, there have been bridges, school parking lots and lighted walking tracks constructed by the Choctaw Nation Transportation Department since 2006, when the Choctaw Nation started its roads program. Currently, Transportation has 32 more projects in various stages of planning and design.

Safety on tribal lands has been a critical task of the Choctaw Nation dating back to the first Choctaw Lighthorsemen, formed in 1824, shortly after the Treaty of Doak’s Stand. Today the Choctaw Nation Public Safety Department employs some 40 law enforcement officials that include a SWAT team with certified snipers and a K-9 component. It features a 24-hour dispatch that is linked to the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Telecommunication System allowing an exchange of critical information promptly. Before 2012, the system was only accessible to State of Oklahoma agencies. Respect and safety reign throughout the Choctaw Nation in law enforcement circles, with compacts in place maintaining cooperation between Choctaw Nation police and local police departments.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has a desire to see a better Oklahoma for its tribal members and all Oklahomans. According to the Donations Committee, the Choctaw Nation is always looking “to share resources and work with individuals, organizations, businesses and other entities to improve our quality of life, not only for the Choctaw people but for our neighbors and community partners, as well…” The Choctaw Nation will consider all donation requests related to public safety. A new process has recently been established to streamline the process. Non-tribal public safety agencies that wish to be considered for assistance from the Choctaw Nation – or would like to build partnerships – should contact the Donations Committee by phoning the Donations Coordinator, 800-522-6170 or 580-924-8280 ext. 2420. Donation Request Forms also may be picked up at any of the tribe’s 17 community centers throughout southeast Oklahoma. They also are available online by putting in the keywords, Choctaw Nation Donation. It is recommended that applications be submitted at least four weeks in advance.

The Choctaw Nation
The Choctaw Nation is the third largest Indian Nation in the United States with close to 200,000 tribal members and 10,000 employees. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, the historical boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma. The Choctaw Nation’s vision, “Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture,” is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage, and traditions, please go to www.choctawnation.com.