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News > Press Releases > Press Release

Press Release

Release Date: May 11, 2006

by Judy Gibbs Robinson

Now that the Chickasaw Nation has secured its own financial needs, it can begin helping individual Chickasaws succeed in business, Gov. Bill Anoatubby said Wednesday.

Beginning next fiscal year, the Ada-based tribe of more than 38,000 will identify Chickasaw entrepreneurs, emphasize contract preference programs and launch small business centers, Anoatubby told the Oklahoma City chapter of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma.

"We're giving high priority to working with our Chickasaw businesses in our community," he said. "Fifteen or 20 years ago, we would not have had the resources. We were focused on developing our own resources we needed to operate on."

The business centers will help Chickasaws launch new businesses or grow old ones, while the contract preference program gives them first shot at providing the tribe with goods and services.

"Chickasaws have an entrepreneurial nature," Anoatubby said. "We're continuing in that entrepreneurial spirit. In fact, it's become a necessity."

When Anoatubby was first elected Chickasaw governor in 1987, the tribe had 250 employees and an $11 million budget, mostly from federal government programs. Today he presides over more than 8,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $350 million, with income from gambling, construction, media, health care -- even a chocolate factory.

That economic development has freed the Chickasaws from total dependence on limited federal dollars while allowing the tribe to provide education, health care and other services for its citizens, Anoatubby said.

"The businesses are a means to an end. Everything we do focuses on the mission" to enhance the overall quality of life of the Chickasaw people, he said.

Indian economic development also benefits non-Indian Oklahomans who share the same land base, Anoatubby said.

"A rising tide raises all ships. As we progress, so will those around us," he said.

Anoatubby predicted additional business partnerships as more Oklahomans realize the advantages of having Indians living among them rather than segregated on reservations as in other states.

"We're right here where we can all work together," he said.