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Chickasaw governor receives NCAIED’s Jay Silverheels Achievement Award

TULSA, Okla. – The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development presents the Jay Silverheels Achievement Award to an outstanding American Indian individual each year during its Indian Progress in Business (INPRO) event.

The award is NCAIED’s highest honor; it’s given to an American Indian who has achieved personal and professional success

while making significant contributions to the community. During the 34th INPRO event from Sept. 16 – 18 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Tulsa, Okla., the award will be given to Bill Anoatubby, the 30th governor of the Chickasaw Nation.

According to www.chicka, Anoatubby attended public schools in Tishomingo. In 1964, he graduated from Tishomingo High School. He attended Murray State College, earning an associate’s degree in business in 1970. In 1972, he completed his bachelor’s degree in accounting at East Central College.

He began working for the Chickasaw Nation in 1975 as its health services director. A year later, he was asked to direct its finance department. In October 1978, he was promoted to the position of special assistant to the governor and controller. In 1979, he was elected as the tribe’s first lieutenant governor and was elected governor in 1987.

In his first term, Anoatubby established goals of economic development and self-sufficiency for the Chickasaw Nation and its people. Today, the Chickasaw Nation is well on its way to achieving those goals.

In 1987, the tribe had about 250 employees. Today, the Chickasaw Nation employs more than 10,500 people in a number of diverse enterprises, including Bank2, Bedre Chocolates, KADA and KYKC radio stations and the McSwain Theatre, several gaming centers, travel plazas and tobacco stores. During Anoatubby’s tenure, funding for tribal operations and services has grown exponentially, and tribal assets have grown.

Anoatubby has served on 15 boards and has been affiliated with various organizations throughout his career. He has received 21 distinguished awards since 1995.

From his perspective of participating in the Chickasaw Nation’s success story for the past 35 years, Anoatubby spoke with Indian Country Today about the past and future growth of Indian businesses.

Indian Country Today: What do you think about the growth of Indian business since you’ve been in tribal government?

Bill Anoatubby: Increased resources enable tribal governments to provide a higher level of services for their citizens and increase efforts to preserve and revitalize culture, heritage and language.

Success of tribal businesses has also enabled tribes to make significant contributions to community development efforts and establish more effective partnerships with communities, businesses and nonprofit organizations.

These partnerships not only enhance the quality of life of Native Americans, they have a positive impact on the entire community.

ICT: What changes in your opinion have been most significant?

BA: Success of tribal businesses has given tribes an increased ability to invest in health care, education, housing and other services which are so vital to the success of their citizens. This has helped provide a level of opportunity for Native Americans many could not have imagined only a few decades ago. Many American Indians have employment opportunities and educational options which can help them achieve personal success.

ICT: INPRO will honor 40 young business people who have demonstrated exceptional achievements. What do you think about recognizing the next generation of Indian leaders?

BA: It is extremely important that we recognize and encourage the next generation of American Indian leaders. These young people are extremely important to the continued success of tribal economic development efforts which will enable Native Americans to achieve success on an individual level.

ICT: What advice would you give to the next generation?

BA: One can never overestimate the importance of education. It is extremely important for them to learn everything they can and to keep an open mind, because these young leaders will encounter opportunities and challenges in the future that we cannot imagine today.

It is even more important to keep the needs of others uppermost in your mind. True success comes when you are able to enhance the lives of others and provide future generations the opportunity for a better life.

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