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New Choctaw Community Center


Ribbon Cutting Opens New Choctaw Community Center in Broken Bow

Photo by Deidre Elrod/Choctaw Nation

Choctaw elders John and Julia McKinney help cut the ribbon Thursday, April 26 opening the new Choctaw Nation Community Center in Broken Bow. Also Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., District 2 Councilman Tony Ward, Choctaw Tribal Council were joined by District 2 Choctaw Princesses, local dignitaries and community members for the ceremony.

BROKEN BOW, OK – A Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Choctaw Nation Community Center in Broken Bow added to the beautiful morning Thursday in McCurtain County. The standing room only event was held April 26, almost nine months to the day after breaking ground on the site.

A new element was added to the ceremony agenda when the award-winning District 2 Choctaw Singers performed two traditional hymns in the Choctaw language.

In attendance were Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., Choctaw Nation Tribal Councilman for District 2 Tony Ward, other members of the council, builders of the facility and local and county officials.

“This facility was built for you, our elders,” said Chief Gary Batton addressing many senior tribal members present. “It’s a place to honor you and where we could provide a meal for you. It’s also a place for our families.” Chief Batton pointed out that staff and programming will be in place to assist individuals and help strengthen families. “We are going to have a lot of opportunities for when you come here.” Chief Batton addressed the reason for the new Community Center. “The Council has been great. We talk about how we can provide services to our tribal members closer to where you live, how we can create jobs closer to where you live. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the reason why you see these campuses. Here we have a clinic, a gym, softball field, a Head Start, and a stickball field will be coming soon. It’s all about Faith, Family, and Culture,” Chief Batton concluded, citing the motto of the Choctaw Nation. “This Council has done a wonderful job committing the dollars to live that. I hope it makes you proud when you drive up to this facility it looks beautiful.”

After introducing members of the Tribal Council, District 2 Councilman Tony Ward thanked them, the construction people and others “that played a part” in getting the facility built. He also introduced Choctaw princesses present and noted that they have “represented District 2 very well.”

The new facility is at 1346 E. Martin Luther King Dr. in Broken Bow. It replaces the one built in 1996 at 210 S. Chahta Rd. It is the latest of several facilities the Choctaw Nation has under construction across 10½ counties in southeastern Oklahoma.

The new building is more massive than the old one at 10,287 square feet, and more parking was added, according to staff. The Community Center has an added convenience of being located between the Choctaw Nation Clinic and Food Distribution Center.


Choctaw Wellness Center Hosts Senior Chair Volleyball Tourney

Photo by Charles Clark / Choctaw Nation

The Senior Chair Volleyball Championships Friday, April 27 at the Choctaw Wellness Center in Durant drew 26 teams and 177 participants from across southeastern Oklahoma.


DURANT, OK – The rules for “chair volleyball” are simple: No standing, no spiking. It’s a good thing laughing is allowed. There was plenty of it at the Senior Chair Volleyball Championships on Friday, April 27 in the Choctaw Wellness Center in Durant.

Some of the 26 teams from 11 Choctaw Wellness Centers or Choctaw Community Centers across 10 ½ counties in southeastern Oklahoma had to board buses at 7:00 a.m. to make their nine o’clock serves. Still, there was no shortage of enthusiasm among the teams.

“Have you ever seen so many old people having so much fun?” said Jan Edge, of Antlers, who also lay claim to being a direct descendant of Greenwood LeFlore, Principal Chief of the Choctaws in 1830. “When we first started playing we did not have enough people for a team; now we have two teams, plus two extra players.”

That the 177 participants enjoyed themselves was evident. When the double-elimination tournament knocked players out, many regrouped, siding with players from other teams and kept playing. In these “side games,” occasionally bouncing out of your chain, spiking and beaning your teammate with the ball to the back of the head was not only acceptable but brought even louder gales of laughter.

“Durant won last year,” said Dan Trujillo, fitness specialist in his third year with the Durant center. “The Choctaw Wellness Center in Broken Bow hosted that event.”

Fielding four teams with several overflow players this year, many expected Durant to retake it. But in an odd twist, as can only happen in sports, while Durant was the host this year, it was Broken Bow Team 1 that took home the traveling trophy.

The teams were co-ed, with as many women as men playing. Teams played six chair-athletes at a time. The tournament was set up for six courts to play at the same time in a single large gymnasium. Balls used for play in the tournament were slightly larger than regulation volleyballs, some were multicolored like beach balls, others were clear and filled with glitter.

The championship match saw Broken Bow’s Teddy’s Nita’s team vs. McAlester 2’s Team Tvshka. It took less than 15 minutes for Broken Bow to put away the challengers in a 15-10 final score.

Trujillo said, “We started planning this six weeks ago.” While the tournament took some three hours, the memories apparently will last a lifetime for many of the senior athletes.

After lots of handshaking and words of “Good game,” everyone headed down the sidewalk to the Choctaw Community Center for a spaghetti luncheon prepared and served by Choctaw Nation employees.

Members of the Choctaw Tribal Council were also on hand to cheer on their seniors: District 9’s James Dry, District 2’s Tony Ward, District 1’s Thomas Williston and District 6’s Jennifer Woods.

Chief Gary Batton had a full morning, first attending the ribbon cutting at the new CMC Steel plant, then getting to the Wellness Center and Community Center to congratulate everyone involved in the tournament. “You are setting an example for our youth,” Chief Batton said. “They see you, and it tells them they can do this, have fun and be healthy. Five years ago this Council set the objective to make our people healthy, to combat cancer, heart trouble and diabetes. We placed clinics throughout the area, for healing, and now we are putting in gyms, wellness centers for prevention. We are getting there., YOU are getting there.”