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Press Release

Release Date: March 21, 2022
by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office

Governor Bill Anoatubby has appointed Chickasaw citizen Joe Thomas executive officer of Literary Arts.

“Joe Thomas understands the important role literary arts play in revitalizing and promoting Chickasaw culture,” Governor Anoatubby said. “He has the education, experience and skills to successfully lead the new Literary Arts division.”

Thomas began his career in the Chickasaw Nation in 2013 as a grant writer. He quickly rose to the position of special assistant and advisor to the Secretary of the Department of Culture and Humanities.

As the executive officer of the recently established division of Literary Arts, Thomas will oversee the Tribal Library and Chickasaw Press, both providing opportunities to learn about Chickasaw culture and history through literary works.

“The division of Literary Arts supports the mission of the Chickasaw Nation by further enhancing the lives of our Chickasaw people by owning our history and sharing it with them in a variety of ways; fiction, nonfiction, scholarly work, poetry, student curricula, magazines, journals, comic books, etc.,” Thomas said.

The Chickasaw Press is the first Native American tribal press of its kind. It provides an outlet for Chickasaw authors, academics and culture bearers to generate and publish research and scholarship about Chickasaw history and culture, making such scholarship accessible to Chickasaw people.

The Tribal Library provides a circulation of books, including fiction, periodicals, children’s books, biographies, histories, magazines and general reference materials, in addition to audiobooks and DVDs.

As a scholar, Thomas may be most excited about the opportunity his department allows for him to build curriculum to be taught at public schools.

“The division oversees the development of Chickasaw Student Curricula,” Thomas said. “Working with educators, researchers, historians, anthropologists, archaeologists and tribal elders, the student curricula provide educators opportunities to teach Chickasaw culture and history within their classrooms that directly coincide with Oklahoma Social Studies standards.”

Thomas received a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies from the University of Oklahoma. He earned a master’s degree in Native American Leadership from Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2015. Southeastern recognized him as a summa cum laude graduate, a honorary title used to signify a degree that was earned “with highest distinction.”

Thomas is a recipient of ionOklahoma NextGen Under 30. He has attended the Chickasaw Leadership Academy, graduated from the Schnake Turnbo Frank Leadership Academy and is a Dale Carnegie Leadership graduate, among other leadership organizations.

Active in the Native American community, Thomas is chair of the Chickasaw Academic Standards Committee. He is also the Department of Culture and Humanities representative and committee member to the Chickasaw Nation Institutional Review Board.

Thomas enjoys teaching others about his culture.

“It feels surreal to be appointed to this position,” Thomas said. “I am thrilled and grateful for the opportunity to serve in this new role under Governor Anoatubby’s leadership and Secretary Lisa John’s leadership. Both have greatly influenced my life, through educational opportunities and support that have contributed to my desire and commitment to the Chickasaw people, history and culture.”

In his free time, Thomas is an avid bowler and competitive volleyball player. He has traveled to many countries, including Thailand, Philippines, China, Ireland, the Netherlands and Mexico.

Thomas enjoys spending time with his family and friends. He is the son of Billy Joe and Carrolen Thomas and the grandson of the late Joe and Ona Factor Thomas.