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Press Release

Release Date: March 31, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Ruby (Gipson) Horse shares her milestones in life and that of the Chickasaw Nation

Ruby (Gipson) Horse lived through exciting times within the Chickasaw Nation. A small-town girl, she has witnessed pivotal events for the tribe throughout her life. She wrote down her experiences and thoughts to be shared with future generations of Chickasaws.

Mrs. Horse was born March 4, 1940, to Bob and Marie Gipson at Talihina Indian Hospital. A Chickasaw, she attended elementary school in Pontotoc, Oklahoma, and high school in Bromide, Oklahoma. She graduated in 1957 at the young age of 17.

“As a child, I wondered what I would be able to do when I graduated from high school,” Mrs. Horse said. “I knew at an early age I wanted to be employed by the federal government. Upon graduation, my mother sent a letter to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Muskogee, Oklahoma, requesting an application for me to attend Haskell Institute. I anxiously awaited the mailman every day. It took 10 days, but it seemed like a year waiting. I cried with joy when mom said I had been accepted.”

Mrs. Horse took a two-year business course that prepared her for government service while at Haskell. She graduated in 1959. She then took her civil service test required to work for the federal government, and moved to Dallas for a year. Completing another life goal, she returned to Oklahoma and was hired at Tinker Air Force Base.

“The next goal in my career was to get to a GS-11 (a ranking system within the government) without a single college hour,” Mrs. Horse said. “I had to work 18 years, but I reached that milestone in my federal career. I retired from Tinker in January of 1995 with 34 years of service. My husband, Sam, is also retired from Tinker.”

Fairy tale endings

Mrs. Horse fondly remembers her home church, Seeley Chapel. She received a firm foundation for her spiritual journey at the church. Her earliest recollection of the church was going by wagon to services.

“It was never too hot, too cold or rainy when it came time to go to church,” Mrs. Horse said. “We didn’t stay one or two hours, which I do now (at church), it was early morning to late at night. My mother and grandmother always managed to have food for us.”

Mrs. Horse became aware of unemployment and inadequate housing when she started school in Pontotoc. She became conscious of her own social standing as she explained that her clothes, while clean and mended, were not of the same quality as the other children of the community at the time.

In the 1950s, her family helped prepare and serve a traditional meal of pashofa for a meeting at their home church, Seeley Chapel, where Chickasaws gathered to talk about their shared vision for the future, including goals for housing, health care and education.

Only 12 at the time, Mrs. Horse remembered the excitement in the air during the day of the meeting. Like at all tribal gatherings, it opened with a prayer in the Chickasaw language. Mrs. Horse’s impression of the meeting at the time was that of a fairy tale. Speakers described a time when, “Brick homes were to be made available that included electricity, indoor plumbing,” and Mrs. Horse was also able to learn a new concept of health care, with a local hospital serving Chickasaws and other First Americans.

“My thought on this was that it sounded too good to be true. This sure sounded great to a Chickasaw girl who had rarely seen a doctor in her short lifetime.”

Education was the final topic of discussion for the day.

“Education was a means that would enable the Chickasaws to be in charge of their own destiny,” Mrs. Horse said. “At the end of the day, this young girl’s head was swirling with all these fairy tales. From a young girl’s standpoint, this vision was not even a reality.”

By the 1960’s, Mrs. Horse had completed her goal of working for the federal government in the Bureau of Indian Affairs. One day her supervisor informed her that Overton James was appointed as Governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

She was tasked to type a letter to be signed by President John F. Kennedy, approving James — and the will of the Chickasaw people — in the appointment of Governor. In later life, she personally saw how the continued dreams of Chickasaw leadership within the Chickasaw Nation came to fruition.

The late 1960’s and early 70’s is when Mrs. Horse saw the first of these “fairy tales” come to realization. The Chickasaw Nation, through federal programs, began providing homes to First Americans. These homes had modern amenities and were built to higher standards than what many rural Chickasaws had been living in.

Today, housing continues to be important to the Chickasaw Nation. Numerous programs and services have been created to ensure quality affordable housing is available to Chickasaws and other First Americans.

According to Mrs. Horse, one of the most exciting times she remembers is when the Carl Albert Indian Hospital was built.

“We are serving our own people,” Mrs. Horse said. “It was Native Americans taking care of Native Americans. From the start the hospital was busy. It’s amazing to see the medical programs we have now. Facilities, specialty doctors and prescriptions are mailed straight to our house.”

Mrs. Horse is thankful for the current leadership within the Chickasaw Nation. She believes they have built upon the vision of those who came before. She attributes education as the foundation of the growth of the Chickasaw Nation. Educated Chickasaws allow the tribe to grow and choose their own destinies.

“I know Governor Anoatubby and he is a fine man,” Mrs. Horse said. “The tribe has grown so much under his leadership.”

Mrs. Horse gave examples of that vision becoming reality.

“Brick homes, medical [care] (the Chickasaw Nation medical facility) the best — and educational opportunities unlimited. Employment opportunities, not only for tribal citizens but all people. I thank God that I have lived long enough to see this fairy tale come true. I am so glad to be a Chickasaw.”