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Choctaw Nation Growth Continues into 2019

The family of U. S. Army Pvt. Charles G. Kaniatobe was honored by Chief Gary Batton during the annual Choctaw Nation Veterans Ceremony held in the heart of Choctaw Nation, Tvshka Homma, on Saturday, Nov. 10.

The Christmas season is a time of faith and family. Every year brings change and this is the first year our families will gather for the holiday without my mom and mother-in-law. 

It is the first Christmas with the addition of our daughter-in-law. Change is inevitable. The memories of our mothers are always with us and we know there is hope for a bright future because there is peace as it is all in God’s hands.

Other changes this past year have included the opening of the new headquarters. It opened in June and is providing much-needed services in a centralized location. 

We have just announced a new expansion to the Choctaw Casino & Resort-Durant which will add 1,000 more jobs for people living in and near Bryan County. The economic impact is far-reaching because many of our tribal members and employees live in Texas.

Also among the highlights of the year is a new lease-to-purchase housing program providing homes in all districts of the Choctaw Nation with more to be added in 2019. 

The LEAP program is helping families overcome obstacles to become new homeowners. There are also homeownership opportunities such as the Homebuyer Advantage Program and Homeowners Finance Service for tribal members who live anywhere in the United States.

The Storm Shelter Program age limits have been reduced to 45 years old or older to receive the full grant amount and tribal members 18-44 can receive half of the grant amount to have a new storm shelter installed. 

The program is available to tribal members in the high tornado risk areas of Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Missouri, and Arkansas.

Among the health services available to Choctaw tribal members who travel to the hospital and clinics in the Choctaw Nation, the Eyeglasses, Dentures, and Hearing Aid Program is now open to any eligible Choctaw to help provide eyeglasses, dentures or partials, and hearing aids.

We have had many unique celebrations this year. The Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, visited the Choctaw Nation during his trip to the United States in March. It was a wonderful cultural experience shared between our Chahta people and Ireland.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the group of Choctaw men who became the first Code Talkers, helping bring an end to World War I. We honored our Tvshka ancestors with a monument in Antlers, unveiling it on Friday, July 6. Bridges throughout Oklahoma were also named for the Code Talkers.

Another Choctaw soldier, one who gave the ultimate sacrifice, has finally been brought home to rest. On Thursday, Nov. 1, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency announced the remains of one of our Choctaw warriors, Army Pvt. Charles G. Kaniatobe would be returned to his family for burial with full military honors. 

Pvt. Kaniatobe was declared missing in action Monday, July 10, 1950. His remains were among those of 164 Americans recovered on Friday, Oct. 6, 1950, and were finally identified in September of this year. 

We honored the family during our Veterans Ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 10. It was a standing ovation for Pvt. Kaniatobe and his family.

Faith, family and culture keep us united–strong families, good citizens and caring people who strive to put the needs of others first are what this time of year is all about.

May you have a blessed Christmas and happy New Year.

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