Press Release

Release Date: July 25, 2023
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Dakota Duke, 7, recently received recognition from the Chickasaw Nation after saving his 3-year- old brother Riley from drowning. Chickasaw Nation Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby and Lighthorse Assistant Chief Terrance Bush presented Dakota with a plaque during a Latta Public Schools end-of-year awards ceremony May 23. 

“Dakota was recognized for his outstanding bravery and warrior mindset,” Bush said. “When faced with fear and danger, Dakota chose not to run, but instead, act. Dakota chose to sacrifice himself to save his little brother and did not fear any injury he may have incurred as a result. That is a true warrior.” 

During a family hiking trip in late February at the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Sulphur, Oklahoma, Riley tumbled down a 100-foot cliff, coming to rest in the frigid waters of Rock Creek. 

Without thought for his own safety, Dakota dove down the cliff to render aid to stricken Riley. After pulling Riley from the creek, the boys waited as park rangers and emergency medical technicians quickly responded. 

“There aren’t many adults that would have chosen to act in the same way Dakota did on that specific day,” Bush said. “Dakota could have taken many other paths when his brother fell 100 feet below, but instead he chose to jump.”

The brothers suffered severe injuries from their fall that required advanced treatment. They were rushed to a hospital in Oklahoma City. Dakota, a Chickasaw citizen, was released soon after, but Riley was admitted to the hospital’s intensive care unit. Riley is currently recovering at home. 

“Dakota put his little brother’s life ahead of his own,” Bush said. “As a police officer, I cannot help but want to recognize that mindset in Dakota. For him to have that maturity level and mindset at such a young age says a lot about who he is as a person and the lengths he will go to protect his family.”