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Press Release

Release Date: March 26, 2021

by Chickasaw Nation Media Relations Office



The Chickasaw Nation and the community joined together in honoring the lives of Chickasaws and Chickasaw Nation employees lost to COVID 19 this past year with a virtual memorial service Tuesday, March 23.

Individuals remembered also included those lost to complications from the disease or other tragic events during the past year.

The memorial service has been viewed by thousands and is available for viewing by accessing Chickasaw.net as well as Facebook.com/TheChickasawNation.

Chickasaw elder Luther John began the service with an invocation incorporating both the Chickasaw and English languages.

“Father who art in heaven, we thank you for this memorial service,” John said. “This virus has taken so many lives but we will not forget who they are… There will be times of memories that will come to us occasionally. We may shed a tear but we will also know the joy that comes as part of it.”

Following the invocation, Chickasaw Nation Lt. Governor Chris Anoatubby opened the memorial and spoke of its purpose, as well as the efforts the Chickasaw Nation has maintained to ensure the health and safety of Chickasaw citizens and community members.

“This memorial service is a time to remember and pray for the many lives we’ve lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all been affected whether we have lost a friend, relative or a colleague,” Lt. Governor Anoatubby said.

Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby addressed viewers, offering a message of shared love, community and support.

“Today, we pay tribute to our friends, co-workers, neighbors and loved ones who were lost during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, we offer our heartfelt condolences to those closest to them. We come together virtually as a community to honor their lives, to comfort one another in this time of grief and to mourn those no longer with us,” Governor Anoatubby said. “We often hear of those we lost to COVID-19 as a group, a number or a statistic, but we know that is simply not the case. Each individual honored today was somebody special, very special. Someone who tucked their child in each night. Someone who made their family’s favorite recipe. Perhaps the co-worker who made the day brighter with their smile or sense of humor, a friend or family member.”

Governor Anoatubby explained that though the process of grieving may have been interrupted or put on hold as many adjusted to the circumstances brought on by the pandemic, this memorial could serve as a collective effort to come together, remember and find comfort knowing none of us are alone.

“The loss of each friend or family member sends ripples of grief throughout our entire community, and as a community, we share in the sadness of all of those who have lost someone dear to them,” Governor Anoatubby said. “Throughout the history of the Chickasaw Nation, in times of joy and in times of sorrow, our people have come together. We draw on the strength of our ancestors and of each other to face such devastating loss. Our hearts go out to everyone who has lost a loved one. Thank you to all who joined in this day of remembrance. We offer love and support to you and we hope you find comfort in knowing you are not alone. The Chickasaw Nation is here for you, always.”

Jae L. Stilwell offered a special performance of “O Lord my God (How great Thou art)” as part of the memorial.

Zach Garcia arranged a medley of “Amazing Grace” and “Hallelujah,” which he performed as photographs and names of those being remembered appeared. These individuals are also featured on Chickasaw.net in a wall of remembrance.

Chickasaw Nation Medical Center Chaplain Randy Wade read Joshua 4:1-7, scripture from the Bible, which expresses how memories of the past can give hope for the future. In the scripture, stones from the river Jordan are used to memorialize the unified journey of the people of Israel into the Promised Land.

“So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever, our story of how we continued as one in the midst of adversity, a part of our journey that the generations will remember as our stories of our people are honored,” Wade read.

Chaplain Wade closed out the memorial with prayer.

A wall of memorial is included below the video at Chickasaw.net/COVIDMemorial. The Chickasaw Nation continues to accept submissions for the inclusion of names on the memorial wall. To do so, visit the COVID-19 Memorial page at Chickasaw.net/COVIDMemorial and click “submit a loved one.”