Press Release

Release Date: March 08, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Concealed within a petite frame and impeccable appearance, Linda Briggs is a guardian, champion and stalwart of the Chickasaw people.

The Chickasaw elder will stand up for others to make sure their needs are met. She is a person of action who seeks thoughtful solutions to everyday challenges, working tirelessly until a remedy is implemented.

Even though she recently retired from the Chickasaw Nation Legislature after serving for almost three decades, the 90-year-old continues to serve and advocate for the Chickasaw people.

Briggs describes the call to serve the Chickasaw people a “God thing.”

“My association with the Chickasaw Nation is a huge gift from God. I got to be a part of the original team. We worked our tails off to get it going,” she said.

Born in Love County in her full-blood Chickasaw grandmother’s home, which sat on the family’s allotted land, Briggs was brought up with a keen understanding of her Chickasaw heritage.

Her Chickasaw lineage can be traced from her maternal grandmother, Minnie Keel Liddell, who was an original enrollee on the Dawes Rolls. The family still owns the land, which was allotted in 1897.

Her Chickasaw mother, Emma Dean, would constantly remind her children, “You are Chickasaw and be proud of it.”

“God smiled at me from the second I was born. He gave me my parents, who were extraordinary people,” Briggs said. “He let me be Chickasaw, which was an adventure unto itself. My road has not been smooth, but God never turned loose of my hand.”

Briggs spent most of her youth in East Texas and lived and worked in the Dallas area after she married and had two children.

Several decades later, after the death of her husband, Briggs drove to Marietta on a Sunday afternoon to visit her mother.

“I was leaving and noticed an old house I always loved had a ‘For Sale’ sign out front,” she said.

She circled the block and returned to her mother’s house, who asked her daughter if she forgot something. “I said, ‘No, I came back to buy a house.’ I cannot believe my mouth was saying that.”

Reflecting on the spur- of-the-moment decision, Briggs said, “It was huge gift God gave me to come (home) and get involved. I knew all about being Chickasaw,” she said.

Growing up in a matriarchal family, Briggs had the responsibility to learn the Chickasaw language because she was the first born of her generation.

“Children weren’t allowed to speak at the table with grownups, but I could sit at that table and listen to their Chickasaw conversation,” she said.

Moving back to Love County decades later, she said, was answering a calling and bringing her life full circle.

Chickasaw Service

Briggs’ primary motivation to run for Chickasaw Legislature was to improve health care services for Chickasaws. Her drive stemmed from serving on a committee in the early 90s which surveyed citizens about health care accessibility.

Briggs was first elected to Pickens District Seat 1 in 1994 and served until 2000. She was elected to Pickens District Seat 3 in 2001 and served until Sept. 30, 2022.

As a senior member of the Chickasaw Legislature, Briggs sponsored and helped enact legislation establishing and expanding programs and services for all Chickasaw citizens.

She assisted in expanding the tribe’s commercial footprint in the Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma and across the country.

During her time in office, the Chickasaw Nation expanded exponentially. Briggs was a part of the renaissance, working to lay a foundation for today’s success, although she is quick to mention she was part of a team working toward a common mission.

Asked about the Chickasaw Nation’s progress since the early 1990s, Briggs said, “It’s like coming from what we call a Third World into tomorrow. That is how far we have traveled.”

The Chickasaw Nation’s business portfolio currently includes more than 100 diverse businesses.

Briggs recalls investigating the potential of one of the first business, Bedré Fine Chocolate, which was purchased by the Chickasaw Nation in 2000.

While she was shopping in a high-end department store in Dallas, Briggs asked the salesclerk about the best chocolate offered, and was directed to a display of chocolate made by Bedré.

She was thrilled.

“I thought, ‘We have arrived,’” she chuckled.

Today, Bedré is sold across the country and is a nationally recognized luxury chocolate brand.

Favorite Project

Soon after WinStar World Resort was constructed in Thackerville, a guest suffered a medical emergency. As a result, Briggs identified a need for complete emergency services coverage at the Love County facility, as well as the entire county.

“I thought we needed three complete units, so WinStar is never without a fire truck and an ambulance.”

Briggs connected tribal officials with the local hospital administrator, and a partnership was developed that is still in use.

Health Care Advancements

When Briggs took office, the tribal medical clinic in Ardmore was a small, white house where patients would line up to see a medical professional.

Once she was sworn into the legislature, one of the first priorities was to suggest implementation of appointments in Ardmore.

Today, the Chickasaw Nation Ardmore Health Clinic, 2510 Chickasaw Blvd., is a 66,000-square- foot medical clinic, more than six times the size of the original clinic opened in 1988.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby said at the 2012 opening of the Ardmore facility that it marked a “major milestone” in continuing efforts to enhance health care for First Americans in the area.

Briggs also took action when a Marietta-based plant announced it was closing, and 50 jobs would disappear. She connected the local industrial authority with tribal officials, and the company was purchased by Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI) in 2004.

Today, CNI Manufacturing is a cutting-edge facility that has developed products for a diverse range of customers and industries.

“I am just so proud of them, because they have worked so hard. It was like a second chance,” Briggs said.

Legacy of Service

A community-minded individual, Briggs served several years on the Marietta City Council, where she was elected mayor, and the local school board, as well chairperson of the First Methodist Church of Marietta board of trustees.

During her tenure on the Chickasaw Nation Legislature, Briggs served five terms as legislative chairperson and land development committee chairperson.

She was also a member of the human resources, education, election rules and regulations ad hoc and special ad hoc committees, as well as the court development ad hoc subcommittee.

She has served on the Chickasaw Tribal Utility Authority board since 1996.

Briggs credits her parents for instilling a drive to serve.

“My mother had a saying, if a situation catches your attention and as you think about it you start thinking about possible solutions. What is happening is you are getting your marching orders. It is time to get involved. Don’t be a bystander, be an activator.”

Her secret to a being a vibrant nonagenarian?

Age is just a number.

“It is how you think, what you think and what you do. Don’t look back, always look forward. I have not yet looked up to see a sign that says, ‘Back it up,’’’ she chuckled.

Briggs has two children, Marc Briggs of Georgetown, Texas, and Teresa Briggs Stofel of Marietta, as well as three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.