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Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

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    9th Annual Choctaw Casino/Resort Pow Wow information


    Pow Wow will be held on Nov. 29 and 30, at the Event Center in Durant. Admission is free to the public. For questions, email or

    Over $70,000 in prize money to be won. See below for competition details.

    Head Staff
    Arena Directors: Michael Roberts, Clifton Goodwill and Marty Thurman
    Emcee: Rob Daugherty and Joaquin Hamilton
    Head Gourd Dancer: Randy Frazier
    Head Gourd Singer: Ryan Roanhorse

    Doors open at 10 a.m.
    Gourd Dance - 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Grand Entry - 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
    Dance Contest begins after grand entry
    Choctaw Cultural Demonstrations throughout the day

    Doors open at 10 a.m.
    Gourd Dance 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
    Grand Entry 1 p.m.
    Dance Contest begins after Grand Entry
    Choctaw Cultural Demonstrations throughout the day

    Dance contest divisions:
    Golden Age Men and Women (55 & Older)
    Sr. Adult Men and Women (35-54)
    Jr. Adult Men and Women (18-34)
    Teen Boys and Girls (13-17)
    Jr. Teen Boys and Girls (7-12)
    Tiny Tots (0-6)

    Dance contest categories:

    Golden Age Men
    Grass & Fancy

    Golden Age Women
    Fancy Shawl and Jingle

    Men - Traditional

    Women - Cloth
    Northern Traditional
    Fancy Shawl
    Choctaw Traditional

    Boys - Traditional

    Girls - Cloth
    Fancy Shawl

    Drum contest categories:

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    Native American Awareness EXPO to be held in Dallas
    Information provided by Angela Young, Administrative Director – Choctaw of Oklahoma

    The largest Native American Awareness EXPO and Career Fair will be hosted in Dallas on Thurs., Dec. 5, 2013 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the famous Gilley’s Dallas located at 1135 South Lamar St. Dallas, TX 75215. Admission is free to the EXPO and Career Fair. All are welcome to come and visit tribal leaders from Oklahoma and Texas, as well as employers, colleges, and arts/crafts vendors. There will be lots of fun entertainment on Center Stage throughout the day.

    EXPO_Post_Finalfinal_web In addition to the EXPO this year, a fundraising Benefit Dinner and Concert will be hosted. The “Indians and Cowboys Benefit Dinner and Concert” will be held from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. with Darryl Tonemah being the entertainment during the dinner, followed by a live auction. Then “The Indian Soul Men Band” will take the stage at 8:45 p.m. for a night of dancing and visiting new and old friends.

    Tickets for this event are $40.00 each or two tickets for $70.00. All proceeds will go to the Urban Inter-Tribal Center of Texas building campaign. A limited number of tickets will be available for purchase and they are expected to sell quickly.

    Order your tickets today and know you have a seat at this exciting dinner and concert 214-941-1050 ext. 203 or 214-876-4519.

    View the invitation
    View the registration

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    Heritage Monday yields exciting prize for Choctaw employee

    Assistant Chief Gary Batton presents Coker with a pair of stickball sticks

    Congrats to Dana Coker, the winner of the November Heritage Monday giveaway. As the winner, she was able to chose between a leather Choctaw briefcase and a pair of stickball sticks from Mississippi.

    Dana chose the stickball sticks, stating that her son will be excited to put them to use.

    The giveaway was in coordination with Heritage Monday, the first Monday of each month. It is a day where the employees of the Choctaw Nation are encouraged to demonstrate pride in their heritage. Wearing any form of Choctaw clothing earned employees a free drink at the cafeteria and an entrance into the drawing.

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    Building business:

    Choctaw Defense’s defense against recession

    Graphic provided by Choctaw Defense
    The Camel II water system

    Choctaw Defense, one of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma’s (CNO) leading business enterprises, earned a sizable contract on Sept. 27, 2013, through Army Contracting Command New Jersey, at the Picatinny Arsenal installation in New Jersey.

    The contract is for “the fabrication, testing, inspection, and delivery of the Platform Integration Kits (PIK) and/or spare parts to the U.S. Army,” according to V.P. of Public Relations Keith Briem of Choctaw Defense. These Platform Integration Kits are used to interface between the platform and the Common Remotely Operated Weapons Station (CROWS) weapon station components.

    Briem explained CROWS as a lightweight, remotely versatile and externally mounted weapon system that allows a gunner to remain inside a vehicle protected by armor, all while firing a variety of crew served weapons. The CROWS will provide protection for the gunner and offer enhanced target acquisition, identification and engagement capabilities.

    The contract, a five-year firm fixed price (FFP) Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) contract, was awarded to Choctaw Defense and one other competitor. With this type of contract, as orders are placed from the buyer, Choctaw Defense and their competitor place bids for who will fill the order.

    There is up to $42 million on the line over a five-year period. These contracts are set in place as a type of safety net for buyers, where-in if one provider was not able to complete the order, the other would be able to take over the remainder of the contract. There is also a minimum guarantee for $200,000 for each base contract award, meaning that if the buyer canceled the contract, Choctaw Defense would be guaranteed the $200,000.

    “This was a competitive bid among other small businesses. Successful completion of the PIK contract would open doors to other manufacturing opportunities associated with military armored vehicles, tanks and tank component manufacturing,” stated Briem.

    He went on to mention tactical wheeled vehicle manufacturing and maintenance is a core business in military manufacturing, making it a source of constant demand for services Choctaw Defense can provide. Not only the manufacture of new items, but the maintenance and upgrading of equipment already in use is a market in which Choctaw Defense has a strong interest.

    The award of this contract will insure continued work for Choctaw Defense employees assigned to the CROWS project. Everyone from machinists to welders and labors will have steady employment in the McAlester plant for the remainder of the contract.

    Though Choctaw Defense has secured business for the foreseeable future, it has not stopped honing its long-term vision. With eyes set on the continued involvement with the tactical wheeled vehicle arena, the administration is preparing for a more diversified business plan, assuring it will be an agile competitor in the market for years to come.

    “Choctaw Defense has continued to focus on growth and the creation of jobs by expanding its business base,” stated Briem. Over the past year Choctaw Defense has added two new companies to the Choctaw Defense group of businesses.

    Choctaw Defense has begun to focus on services in alignment with manufacturing. Businesses are now able to contract Choctaw Defense to undertake projects such as laying cable in structures and providing security within completed buildings. They will also provide logistics and crew training, technical support services and Information Technology support service.

    Also a new branch to Choctaw Defense is Architects in Partnership Enterprises (AIPe), which operates as a Limited Liability Company within Architects in Partnership (AIP) and is headquartered in Norman.

    AIPe specializes in the planning and design of government, commercial, and educational facilities, providing services that range from master planning to design and construction administration.

    AIPe will also allow Choctaw Defense to compete internally. When CNO plans to construct facilities, it is mandated they must bid out the contracts. AIPe’s presence allows CNO to essentially bid the work to itself, keeping the dollars from leaving the Nation.

    The U.S. Navy has also awarded Choctaw Defense a performance standard contract to design and manufacture the next generation field service body bed for the M915A3 20-ton truck. McAlester will be the home of this project along with the PIK contract.

    The recently awarded contracts along with current contracts will insure continued manufacturing opportunities for the next 2-3 years, according to Briem.

    With the acquisition of the new contracts and the addition of the two new ventures, Choctaw Defense is growing steadily and sustainably. Ongoing activities at Choctaw Defense manufacturing plants include the MTVR trailer contract for the U.S. Marine Corps. Choctaw Defense has produced 1,700 to date and is still rolling more off the lot.

    The CAMEL II water system, a storage unit that allows soldiers to have pure and cool drinking water in the field, is also a sizable current contract. Battle Damage Repair Kits and C17 scissor lifts are staples in Choctaw Defense’s business as well.

    For more information, visit

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    Choctaw Nation to offer shingles vaccine to seniors

    Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority (CNHSA) will now be offering the shingles vaccine to patients 60 years old or older. Anyone 60 years of age or older should get the shingles vaccine, regardless of whether the patient recalls having had the chickenpox or not. Studies show that no more than 99% of Americans ages 40 and older have had chickenpox, even if they do not remember getting the disease.

    You should NOT get the shingles vaccine if any of the following apply to you

    • Had a life-threatening or severe allergic reaction to gelatin, the antibiotic neomycin, or any other component of shingles vaccine.
    • Have a weakened immune system because of HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
    • Had treatment with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids
    • Had cancer treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy
    • Had cancer affecting the bone marrow or lymphatic system, such as leukemia or lymphoma
    • Are pregnant or might be pregnant

    Please contact your local Choctaw Nation Family Practice Clinic for the vaccine.

    For more information about Shingles, see the attached flier.

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    Putting people and praise first
    Councilman Coley’s passion for helping others and gospel singing

    Joe helps lead a singing during a cultural event in Poteau.

    Choctaw Nation’s Tribal Council is a distinguished group of gentlemen, sense of humor only outmatched by their love for the Choctaw people. Within this lively squad, one will find Joe Coley who speaks quietly, but advocates strongly for his people and his faith.

    Coley is councilman for District 6 – Latimer County. He became councilman in 2004 and is now the group’s chaplain, opening each tribal council meeting with a prayer.

    Coley was born at his home on Cravens Road, south of Red Oak, to Ranes M. “Rufus” Coley and Lela (Yota) Coley, in the early 1950s. The seventh child of his parents’ eight children, Coley was the youngest boy.

    He spent his younger days learning to swim in Spring Creek Lake and attending school at Cravens, Ludi, Panola and eventually graduating from Red Oak High School. There was lots of fast pitch softball playing and fishing, Coley stated as he recalled his adolescence.

    As Coley grew into adulthood, two passions emerged in his life – his faith in Christ and serving people. The former is exemplified through his great amount of work in many churches throughout Southeast Oklahoma, with a particular emphasis in gospel singing. The latter is demonstrated in his decades of service working for the Community Health Representatives (CHR) and later as a councilman.

    Coley Though Coley speaks softly, he sings loud and proud as he travels to a multitude of churches for his favorite past time, gospel singing. “We have a good time,” Coley said with a smile as he began to speak about the singings.

    Coley has been to many different places and several states singing with a handful of quartets. He enjoys group singing at local churches, mentioning that sometimes there are more than 20 groups at a single singing and the event lasts late into the night, until midnight or 1 a.m. “We just have a good time praising God through song,” he stated.

    Currently, he attends Cedar Baptist where gospel singings are a regular occurrence. He is also a well-known face within other church groups, as he emcees singings and hosts revivals often. Coley attributes his interest in song to his father, Rufus, who taught him to read shape notes early in life.

    When he isn’t singing songs of praise with his church group, Coley is lending a helping hand. In the early ’80s he began his work for Choctaw Nation’s CHRs driving patients to appointments at various tribal facilities.

    During this time he was able to learn more about the needs of the Choctaw people. He was trained as a first responder and was able to assist patients in many ways other than just the transportation. “I really enjoyed that work,” said Coley.

    For a brief time in the mid-’80s, Coley worked for the hospital in Talihina, fulfilling similar duties. Once the Choctaw Nation gained sovereignty in the mid ’80s, he returned to his occupation with the CHRs.

    After decades of service in this field, he was encouraged by those close to him to run for his position as a tribal councilman. This idea was appealing to Coley in particular because he had spent ample amounts of time with tribal members, discovering their personal needs. Becoming a councilman offered Coley a chance to help in ways that he had previously been unable.

    “I had to really pray about it,” stated Coley as he spoke about his consideration for the position. He knew he had the support of family and many friends, but deliberated if the decision was right for him. As he considered his options, he recalled the needs of tribal members that he had encountered during his service with the CHRs and considered the extra influence he would have to work on their behalf.

    Upon being elected councilman in 2004, Coley made sure to keep the same goal he had while running for this position – to be a reliable avenue of assistance to those who needed him. Coley mentions that whenever he considers a council bill, he studies all the outcomes for tribal members, making sure it is in the best interest for Choctaws.

    Victories as a councilman stand out in Coley’s memory. Assisting the town of Quinton with the paving of their streets and gym parking lot was one of the many shining moments in Coley’s career.

    He is also proud to say he aided the town of Red Oak during a time when their water supply was in trouble. A pump had malfunctioned, stopping water from being delivered to residents. As a councilman, Coley was able to provide bottled water during the shortage, and later, made sure a replacement pump was installed quickly.

    He looks back on these successful moments, among others, with fondness. “I love my job and helping people. There is no better job that I know of,” he said modestly as he discussed his dedication.

    Coley also mentioned that he feels fortunate to be working with the other members of the council. “I couldn’t ask for a better group,” he stated as he talked about the camaraderie that has been built over the years.

    If one were to travel to Wilburton and attend a function hosted by Coley, they would most likely meet his wife, Mary, a cheerful and up-beat counterpart to Coley’s reserved demeanor.

    Joe met Mary in church as kids and the two were married in 1972. Together, they raised three children – Roger, Diana and Heather – all of whom they are exceptionally proud. “They were real good kids,” Joe said with a grin.

    Outside of the tribal council and the gospel circuit, Coley is involved in several organizations, including Ki Bois, Keddo and Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. He is also a Sunday school superintendent, song leader and trustee of his church, Cedar Baptist.

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    Tribes to receive Congressional Gold Medals in honor of Code Talkers

    On Nov. 20, the Congress of the United States will present Congressional gold medals to 26 tribes in honor of their tribal members’ service in the U.S. military as Code Talkers in World War I and World War II. A private awards ceremony will be held at 11 a.m. in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. The tribe will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, and each one will be of a unique design befitting that tribe. The Code Talkers or a surviving family member will receive duplicate solid Silver medals. Bronze duplicate medals will be sold to be public from the United States Mint beginning soon afterward.

    During World War I and World War II, hundreds of American Indians from dozens of tribes joined the U.S. armed forces. Historically, they are among the first to volunteer and are recognized as having the highest record of service on average compared to other ethnic groups.

    One small group of Choctaw men helped turn the tide during World War I and was so successful their method of communications was repeated in World War II. They were the original Code Talkers who used words from their traditional tribal language as weapons. America’s enemies were never able to decipher or “break” the coded message they sent.

    “The Code Talker Recognition Act paved the way for Congressional medals to honor American Indian Code Talkers,” said Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “It has been a delayed and challenging path since the beginning of the crusade for acknowledgement. Many people worked tirelessly in an effort to educate others about the Code Talkers. They walked the halls of Congress to raise awareness and are now going to see the realization of their goal.”

    The first recorded use of Code Talkers was on Oct. 17, 1918. They exchanged messages with Choctaw phrases such as “corn grain three” and “little gun shoot fast” to describe “third battalion” and “machine gun.” As the group grew and developed a wider “vocabulary,” the success of the Allied missions continued and ended World War I. Many lives were saved.

    When the United States entered World War I, members of Indian tribes who enlisted in the Armed Forces were not considered U.S. citizens. They still chose to protect their home, maintaining their identity as American Indians as they enlisted and fought on behalf of the United States.

    The original Code Talkers were sworn to secrecy and many of them kept the secret of their participation until they died.

    In 2001, Congress and President George W. Bush honored Navajo Code Talkers for their contributions as radio operators during World War II.

    President Bush signed the Code Talkers Recognition Act on Oct. 15, 2008, which included Code Talkers from 33 other tribes and nations who were instrumental in World War I and II victories.

    The Code Talkers left a lasting legacy for their people and their country. They are beginning to receive the recognition and honor they greatly deserved during their lifetimes.

    Medals to be awarded on November 20, 2013

    1. Choctaw Nation (Oklahoma)

    2. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)

    3. Cherokee Nation (Oklahoma)

    4. Comanche Nation (Oklahoma)

    5. Crow Creek Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)

    6. Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes (Montana)

    7. Ho-Chunk Nation (Wisconsin)

    8. Hopi Tribe (Arizona)

    9. Kiowa Tribe (Oklahoma)

    10. Meskwaki Nation (Iowa)

    11. Muscogee Creek Nation (Oklahoma)

    12. Oglala Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)

    13. Oneida Nation (Wisconsin)

    14. Osage Nation (Oklahoma)

    15. Pawnee Nation (Oklahoma)

    16. Ponca Tribe (Oklahoma)

    17. Pueblo of Acoma Tribe (New Mexico)

    18. Santee Sioux Nation (Nebraska)

    19. Seminole Nation (Oklahoma)

    20. Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (Sioux) Tribe (South Dakota)

    21. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)

    22. Tlingit Tribe (Alaska)

    23. Tonto Apache Tribe (Arizona)

    24. White Mountain Apache Tribe (Arizona)

    25. Yankton Sioux Tribe (South Dakota)

    26. Menominee Nation (design unveiled at the ceremony)

    Medals to be awarded at a later date

    1. Brule Sioux Tribe

    2. Cheyenne and Arapho Tribes

    3. Chippewa Tribe

    4. Crow Tribe

    5. Laguna Pueblo Tribe

    6. Rosebud Tribe

    7. Mohawk Tribe

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    VA to increase aid to tribal veterans’ assistance

    The Choctaw Nation and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) have come to an agreement for the VA to reimburse the Choctaw Nation for services provided for Native American Veterans. This will not only help the Choctaw Nation provide more services for Tribal Members and Tribal Veterans, but also provide more access to health care facilities.

    Tribal Veterans need to be enrolled in VA health benefits for the reimbursement to take place, so if you are a Veteran and are not, or do not know, if you are enrolled in VA health benefits here are some choices for you to get started.

    1. Go to and search and fill out a 10-10EZ (application for VA health benefits)
    2. Call 1-877-222-8387 and follow the prompts.
    3. Call CNHSA at 1-918-567-7000 ext. 6856

    Benefits of the agreement include more locations for tribal veterans to access health care, less travel time for the veteran and more services provided between CNHSA and the VA. There is NO COST to the veteran for most services and access to a Veterans Advocate for any help such as finding the correct forms, filling them out and applying for benefits is provided.

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    Farm and You event held to educate youth

    Farm_2 Choctaw Nation Health Services Going Lean Program held a Farm to You event on Nov. 5, 2013, with the OSU Extension Agency. Over 300 students from Whitesboro, Buffalo Valley and Talihina Public Schools attended the event. Forty volunteers lent their support as well.

    According to the OSU Extension office, the Farm to You is a 40-foot by 40-foot enclosed walk-through exhibit and has ten stations. Small groups of approximately ten students begin the educational, interactive experience at Farmer Pete’s Garden where they learn about fruits and vegetables. The second station is called Farmer Pete’s Chicken Coop, here the students learn about raising chickens and the important role protein plays in our diets. The third station is Farmer Pete’s Dairy Farm where they learn about raising dairy cows and the nutrients that dairy foods provide. The fourth station is Pete’s Acres, where students learn about the different types of grains in our diets. The remaining six stations take students through the digestive system where they learn how the foods on the farm are important for our bodies. At each station, community or school volunteers use a written script to provide students with a message and activity related to the specific station. To better address the Oklahoma State Department of Education Priority Academic Students Skills (PASS), the mouth, bone and muscle stations have different scripts for Grades K – 3rd and 4th – 6th.

    The Oklahoma Farm to You Nutrition Exhibit is designed to involve first through sixth grade students in learning the skills and choices for a healthy lifestyle. Children learn about the link between agriculture, nutrition, good hygiene practices, physical activity and health.


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    Annual Used Toy Drive

    Go_Green_Choctaw_Logo_web Choctaw Nation Going Green is hosting a used toy drive throughout the entire Choctaw Nation from Nov. 6 through Dec. 13.

    As you clean out children’s closets, please be “green” with gently used toys and give them to another child in need.

    Drop off locations are at ALL community center, the headquarters in Durant and the Hugo Housing office.

    For Questions Contact: Tracy Horst Director of Project Management Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (800) 522-6170

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    Leave a Legacy of Healthy Vision
    Set your sight on healthy vision if you have diabetes

    Information provided by National Eye Institute

    Diabetes affects nearly 26 million people in the United States. In addition, another 79 million people are estimated to have prediabetes, a condition that puts people at increased risk for diabetes. Many American Indians and Alaska Natives are included in these statistics. According to the Indian Health Service, diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives has increased from 8 percent to more than 13 percent in the last decade. While this may sound discouraging, the good news is that a lot can be done to prevent diabetes and the severity of its complications, such as those that lead to vision loss and blindness.

    Health Diabetic eye disease is a group of eye problems people with diabetes may face and includes cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy, the most common diabetic eye disease, is the leading cause of blindness in adults 20–74 years of age.

    “The longer a person has diabetes, the greater is his or her risk of developing diabetic eye disease,” said Paul A. Sieving, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Eye Institute (NEI).“If you have diabetes, be sure to have a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year. Don’t wait until you notice an eye problem to have an exam, because vision that is lost often cannot be restored.”

    Diabetic eye disease often has no early warning signs, but it can be detected early and treated before vision loss occurs. If you have diabetes in your family, you can leave a legacy of healthy vision by taking steps to prevent vision loss—controlling diabetes and getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam every year.

    “In fact, with early detection, timely treatment, and appropriate follow-up care, people with diabetes can reduce their risk of severe vision loss by 95 percent,” adds Suber Huang, M.D., M.B.A., chair of the Diabetic Eye Disease Subcommittee for NEI’s National Eye Health Education Program.

    Research has shown that when people with diabetes maintain good control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol, they can slow the development and progression of diabetic eye disease. In addition to having a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year, people with diabetes should do the following to keep their health on TRACK:

    health_2Take your medications.

    Reach and maintain a healthy weight.

    Add physical activity to your daily routine.

    Control your blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol.

    Kick the smoking habit.

    If you have diabetes, set your sight on healthy vision. Schedule a comprehensive dilated eye exam. For more information on diabetic eye disease and tips on finding an eye care professional or financial assistance for eye care, visit a href=””> or call the NEI at 301–496–5248.

    The National Eye Institute (NEI), part of the National Institutes of Health, leads the federal government’s research on the visual system and eye diseases. NEI supports basic and clinical science programs that result in the development of sight-saving treatments. For more information, visit

    About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the Nation’s medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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    Congressional Gold Medals awarded in honor of Code Talkers

    Chief_with_Choctaw_medal_web The highest honor bestowed by Congress – the Congressional Gold Medal – was awarded to the Choctaw Nation, along with 32 other tribes on Wednesday, Nov. 20, in recognition of the bravery, honor and commitment of their Native American Code Talkers, who used their language as an unbreakable code for transmitting messages on the battlefield during World Wars I and II. Leaders of the U.S. House and Senate honored these Code Talkers in a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony held in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C.

    Leaders of each of the tribes or nations of the Code Talkers, all but one of whom have passed away, were presented the gold medals at the ceremony. Chief Gregory E. Pyle accepted the gold medal on behalf of the Choctaw Code Talkers.

    “It was an extremely humbling honor to accept the award on behalf of our brave Choctaw warriors,” said Chief Gregory E. Pyle. “Many people worked tirelessly to see our Code Talkers honored for their brave, gallant actions in battle. The Choctaw Code Talkers were the original group to use their native language as a weapon. That one small group of Choctaw men helped turn the tide during World War I and was so successful that their method of communications was repeated in World War II. I’m proud to see their courageous actions recognized.”

    Speakers at the ceremony include House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK), Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), Sen. Tim Johnson (D-SD), Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), as well as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr.

    In his opening statement, Speaker Boehner describes the Code Talkers as “the bravest of the brave.” He continued, “After they served with honor they did the honorable thing – they kept their service a secret, even to those that they loved.”

    He thanked the families of the Code Talkers, saying because of them and their perseverance, “the deeds that may have been relegated to legend will now live on in memory and now heroes who long went unrecognized will now be given our highest recognition.”

    He also thanked former Oklahoma Congressman Dan Boren, who was in attendance at the ceremony, calling him one of the original champions of the Code Talker legislation.

    Pelosi remarked during her speech, “The Code Talkers, using their language, carried forward the hopes of their people, committed to the cause of freedom. Their sense of duty was never shaken – nor was their resolve. Their patriotism never wavered – nor did their courage. Their bonds of brotherhood were never broken – nor was their code.

    “For their heroism and sacrifice, for the contributions that went unrecognized for too long, it is a privilege for Congress to award the Native American Code Talkers the highest honor we can bestow: the Congressional Gold Medal.”

    Family members representing the 23 Choctaw Code Talkers – 19 from World War I and four from World War II – were presented medals at a separate Silver Medals presentation ceremony at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

    One family member, Nuchi Nashoba, who is also the president of the Choctaw Code Talkers Association and granddaughter of Code Talker Ben Carterby, said, “It’s an exciting day for all of us because we waited so long for this to happen. I’m so thankful that we are able to experience this great, wonderful, historic event. As a descendent, it’s such an honor, such an honor, to be here.

    “There are so many that walked the halls of Congress to get support to have the Code Talkers Recognition bill passed. It’s taken many, many years. It’s great to have our own government recognize our Code Talkers.

    “As soldiers, they went to war; they didn’t brag, they didn’t boast about what they did,” she explained. “It was up to us to make this [recognition] happen and to brag on these people who went to war to keep us free. We’ve all become so close and so attached to this cause. It’s up to us to continue to tell their story. We do it in order to honor the men that went to war.

    “I’m thankful to the Choctaw Nation and for the display they’ve created in Tvshka Homma,” she continues. “It will allow Choctaws for many generations to learn of their legacy, read their story and see their medals.”

    Another family member, D.G. Smalling, great-grandson of Code Talker Calvin Wilson, said to finally have the medal was amazing. “We have a very unique situation with our family,” he said. “We’ve actually been to where they fought.

    “The Arragone Forest in northern France,” said his mother, Janet Smalling, grandson of Calvin Wilson.

    “It’s amazing to finally have this [medal] and to have the frame of reference of where they fought,” D.G. said.

    Many of the families have donated the silver medals to the Choctaw Nation to be displayed at the Code Talker exhibit at the Choctaw museum in Tvshka Homma.

    The Choctaw Code Talkers during World War I were Joseph Oklahombi, Calvin Wilson, Robert Taylor, Ben Carterby, Solomon Louis, Albert Billy, Pete Maytubby, James Edwards, Noel Johnson, Tobias Frazier, Joe Davenport, George Davenport, Mitchell Bobb, Ben Hampton, Walter Veach, Otis Leader, Ben Colbert, Jeff Nelson, and Victor Brown. Those from World War II were Schlicht Billy, Davis Pickens, Andrew Perry and Forreston T. Baker.

    Along with the Choctaw Nation, several Oklahoma tribes were also honored including the Comanche, Seminole, Cherokee, Pawnee and Muscogee Creek Nations, as well the Osage, Kiowa, Ponca, Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

    Also, tribes from Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin were among those awarded medals including Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Montana, Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Hopi Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin, Pueblo of Acoma Tribe, Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa/Meskwaki Nation, Santee Sioux Nation, Smalling_and_Oklahombi_web Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Tonto Apache Tribe, White Mountain Apache, Yankton Sioux Tribe, Crow Nation, Fond Du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Laguna Pueblo Tribe, Lower Brulé Sioux Tribe, Menominee Tribe, Mohawk Tribe, and the Rosebud Sioux Tribe.

    Bronze duplicate medals are available for purchase from the United States Mint.

    Janet Smalling, granddaughter of Calvin Wilson, and Shirley Geller, granddaughter of Joseph Oklahombi, accept the silver medals at a ceremony at the National Museum of the American Indian.

    For more insight into the life of a code talkers, watch this video of Ruth McMillian talking about her father Tobias Frazier, an original code talker.

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    Partnership of Summer School Education planning for another year

    “The definition of ‘posse’ is a group of people who come together for a common goal,” explained Paula Harp, director of the Partnership of Summer School Education (POSSE) program and the Making a Difference program at the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma

    Harp smiled as she described just what the POSSE program does for the youth of Durant and the surrounding area. “The main goal of the Partnership of Summer School Education program is to provide academic remediation to students in grades pre-k through second grade,” stated Harp. “It is the goal of the Choctaw Nation to provide a culturally enriched, safe and positive atmosphere for the students that participate in the summer school program.”

    According to Valerie Crabtree, principal of the Durant summer school program, POSSE’s inaugural summer was well received by students, teachers and parents alike. Teachers were thrilled to be working in a more hands-on situation with smaller classes and more time to devote to each student.

    plane2 The future of POSSE was discussed at Second Annual Superintendents’ Luncheon on Sept. 17. After a presentation of the success at the Durant location, many educators were curious how they could include their school in the program. Promising plans were made to expand the service area of the program. According to Harp, next year, and additional seven Bryan County schools will be added to the program: Achille, Caddo, Calera, Silo, Bennington, Colbert and Rock Creek Public Schools.

    POSSE was available for eligible children pre-k through second grade, who attend school Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. as well as the “Jump Start to Kindergarten” group of students, who attend class Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to noon. It is a seven-week-long program, held at Washington Irving Elementary School in Durant, which began June 3, and concluded July 25.

    The selection of students to be accepted into POSSE is based on teacher recommendation and test scores; Choctaw tribal membership is not required. If the student is having trouble with reading or math during the school year, the teacher will suggest to Harp they need to be admitted into the summer school program.

    Harp continued illustrating the goals of POSSE by listing examples of how the staff and educators conduct themselves:

    • they work to inspire and empower the students
    • build on the strengths of the community
    • applaud students’ achievements
    • expand resources
    • work with communities, schools and organizations in the geographic service area
    • plan, implement, expand, coordinate and evaluate the program itself

    According to Harp, the program has several objectives.

    • The children will grow academically through remediation in reading and math
    • grow socially through cultural services provided
    • develop emotionally through the afternoon educational activities
    • feel safe and secure while being supervised by a competent and caring staff
    • benefit in a positive manner as they are taught caring and cooperative attitudes

    There were 184 students enrolled in the initial summer school program according to Harp, who worked closely with Durant School administration and staff to develop the curriculum for the summer school. “Since I am a former teacher, it helps me a lot, because I know what the school day is like,” and since Harp was once a teacher from Durant ISD, the teachers she is now working with are some of her good friends. “We have a great working relationship; we just kind of know what the other is thinking and what we need to do.”

    The Choctaw Nation helps with funding POSSE, providing the school with half of the needed funds. While the Nation provides funding for teachers’ salaries and supplies throughout the seven weeks, Durant ISD provides all other expenses, such as bus drivers’ salaries, bus fuel, air conditioning in the building, summer lunch program, etc.

    Harp said Durant Public Schools usually accept around 300 children into kindergarten each year with about 100 of these students who have never gone to school. She described the program as being an exceptional program for children who have never experienced a school environment but are about to enter kindergarten. “Some kids, when they start kindergarten, have never been to school (pre-k) before,” she said, because it is not required. “They may or may not have been taught their alphabet, how to tie their shoes, etc.” During the seven-week period of Jump Start to Kindergarten, those areas are covered, she said. “We teach them quite a few things, so that when school starts, they are ready to go.”

    Tim_Tingle Locating these children throughout the Durant area for Jump Start to Kindergarten proved to be a daunting but rewarding task. “We visited all the Head Starts and the Durant schools and found names for all Choctaw children who fit the age group,” explained Harp.

    “The education department employees visited the homes of Choctaw children in the Durant school district and found Choctaw children who are going into kindergarten but have not been through pre-k,” said Harp. “We did it in one afternoon, each of us had a certain number of students to find, and we just went out and did it. It was a great group effort.”

    “We’re not in the business of running schools, they’re the experts,” said Harp. “We are just helping to fund the extra expense.”

    The 2013 summer school theme was “The Great Outdoor Adventure.” The first two weeks of summer school had a camping theme, the next two weeks an aerospace theme and the last three weeks a Native American theme, in which Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle visited the students and provided each child with their own book.

    A field trip was made each week. “They really made an impression,” Harp said of the outings. Students visited the Choctaw Nation Recycling Center spurring them to encourage parents by saying thing such as “don’t waste water,” and telling them how to recycle at home, turn the lights out and clean up the environment.

    If you’d like to learn more about this programs, contact Paula Harp at 580-924-8280 ext. 2452, or visit their Facebook page.


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    Choctaw Nation Education Department represented at George W. Bush Institute Summit

    What makes an excellent workshop in a wonderful facility even better? For one Choctaw Nation employee, it was a visit from former president George W. Bush himself. The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma was the only tribe to participate in the Early Warning Systems Early Adopters Learning and Sharing Summit on November 5 – 6 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

    George-W_-Bush-Presidential-Center-at-SMU-in-Dallas_120800 The Choctaw Nation Making a Difference (MAD) program has been recognized among tribes as a forerunner in education. The MAD program is currently taking steps to begin tracking data and identifying problems in real time. Identification is the first step in addressing problems quickly in order to get students back on track before it is too late. Paula Harp, Director of the Making a Difference program and the Partnership of Summer Schools Education program, attended the summit and was pleased to see that the Choctaw Nation is already using much of what was discussed.

    The summit was attended by representatives from schools, colleges, state departments of education, researchers, civic groups, support groups and policy makers from across the United States.

    Participants were trained in the use of Early Warning Indicators (such as attendance, discipline, personal challenges and test scores) to predict student success. Discussion covered how to implement these systems and how to intervene once problems have been identified.

    Former President Bush paid a visit to the group to express the importance of Early Warning Indicators and how they are addressed. He and Mrs. Bush continue to be supporters of education in this country.

    Harp and the staff of the Making A Difference program realize that “early warning allows early intervention.” As the new program continues to build, technology is being put into place to greatly improve the speed and efficiency with which the needs of students can be identified.

    Click here to learn more about the Making a Difference program.

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    Heritage Monday a venue for Choctaw artists


    Monday, Dec. 2, Choctaw Nation will host its monthly heritage day in celebration of the rich, living Choctaw culture.

    Choctaw Nation employees are encouraged to wear a piece of traditional clothing on this day – t-shirts, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, etc. – and to greet guests in the Choctaw language.

    This Monday will also include a special event, an “Artist Bazaar,” in which Choctaw artists will bring original artwork to the headquarters and allow employees and guests to purchase items.

    This will be an opportunity to purchase unique and original Christmas gifts, as well as support Choctaw artists. Be sure to visit all floors in the main building of the complex from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

    A regular event at the heritage day celebrations is a special lunch of traditional foods, which will be served in the employee cafeteria from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and traditional dance practice in the complex conference room at 2 p.m.

    The Choctaw Nation tribal complex is located at 529 N. 16th in Durant. Everyone is welcome to attend and celebrate the rich Choctaw history and culture.

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    Choctaw Nation hosts Artist Bazaar

    BrowsingWEBEmployees dressed in traditional attire browse the selection of art from Martha Dewitt.

    Culture flowed strong at the headquarters of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma Dec. 2, as the staff and guests celebrated the monthly event, Heritage Monday.

    This event, hosted the first Monday of each month, serves as a beacon of the Choctaw history, essentially turning the tribal complex in Durant, into a cultural center for the day.

    December’s heritage day marked a new milestone for the event, introducing “Artist Bazaar.” In addition to the usual demonstration of culture, such as employees wearing traditional clothing, Choctaw dance lessons and craft lessons, Choctaw artist specializing in various mediums were invited to set up displays throughout the three-story complex.

    “I’m thrilled to be here,” stated Lauretta Newby-Coker, who displayed her stained glass creations.

    NewbyCokerWEB Newby-Coker was just one of over a dozen artists who filled the venue for Artist Bazaar. Talents varied from beadwork and pottery, to traditional dressmaking and painting. All the crafts were for sale; making the event a great opportunity for those seeking unique Christmas gifts reflecting native culture.

    Lana Sleeper, coordinator of Heritage Monday, spoke of the results of Artist Bazaar with great hope, mentioning that this is something that can give artists a chance to publicize their work and circulate their name in the community.

    The partnership between the Choctaw Nation and the artists is mutually beneficial, in that it promotes heritage and culture in a physical and appealing way, all while supporting those who keep the history alive through their skills.

    It is Sleeper’s hope that youth will recognized the financial viability of these trades as the artists of today market their work, and in turn, become motivated to continue nurturing cultural talents in the future. “It’s not just a hobby,” stated Sleeper.

    Jane_UmstedWEB Newby-Coker, an art teacher at Longfellow Middle School in Norman, shares a similar sentiment. It is her hope that her work will live on, inspiring others to become involved in the art forms of their heritage.

    Newby-Coker, with only a year of experience, has created a large number of stained glass pieces. However, she has been involved in painting, ink and coffee washes, and scrimshaw for many years, her interest in art sparking in high school.

    If you are a Choctaw artist and would like to be contacted for events such as Artist Bazaar or cultural gatherings, please become a part of the Artists’ Registry by calling 800-522-6170 ext. 2347, or visit our web sign-up page. To see work from Newby-Coker, visit

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    Choctaw Nation Food Distribution making strides in service

    Choctaw Nation Food Distribution is rolling out several new features to its already effective program.

    Food Distribution has recently purchased a bobtail truck and frozen trailer to assist in transporting frozen meats and goods. During each month, employees travel to Idabel, Broken Bow, Smithville and Bethel to serve clients who live a considerable distance from the nearest distribution center.

    In the past, clients would be limited to non-frozen goods or forced to make a trek. Now, those who are only able to make it to the mobile distribution centers will be offered the full array of choices, and those who traveled to the permanent centers will have the option for a more convenient location.

    Trista Winnett, store manager for the Durant location, mentions that she is excited for the upgrades in the services and mentioned that she expects to see larger numbers during the mobile distributions. It is expected that this change will initially benefit an estimated 100 households.

    Winnett also mentioned that all clients are welcome to make multiple trips to any of the centers during business hours, and that a weekly trip – opposed to monthly – will use less storage space and allow clients to keep their supply fresh.

    The Durant facility will no longer be closed during lunch beginning Dec. 1. This will allow clients to make a trip at any time during the day without interruption to the schedule.

    Construction on the new Durant facility is also moving along nicely, according to Winnett. The new center will offer store-style distribution and a larger variety of services to better serve eligible Choctaws.

    Food Distribution currently has centers in Durant (580-924-7773), McAlester (918-420-5716), Poteau (918-649-0431) and Antlers (580-298-6443). If you would like to know more about the program, please call 580 -924-7773.

    Each participant receives approximately 80 food items totaling 85 pounds of food per person in the household. Rules for receiving food distribution benefits include:

    1. One resident per household (any age) is required to have a CDIB card.
    2. Social Security numbers and cards are required.
    3. Verification of income is required: copy of a payroll check, or if unemployed, a card from the Employment Office will be needed.
    4. Verification of residence is required; a utility bill containing name and address.
    5. Cannot be receiving food stamps.
    6. Must reside in the 10.5 counties o the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

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    Storm Shelter and Safety Information

    Winter Storm

    As the winter storms are pushing their way through Southeast Oklahoma, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has put several safety measures in place.

    Significant freezing rain and dropping temperatures over several days may possibly cause major power outages. Several Choctaw Nation Community Centers are preparing to help. Generators have been placed in strategic locations to accommodate the possible opening of shelters if power outages develop. Volunteers are preparing to be on-site to offer assistance.

    If schools in your areas are closed, Choctaw administrative offices and clinics are also closed.

    If you find yourself in need of a shelter, please call to check if the local center is available.

    • Antlers – 402 SW “O”, 580-298-5501
    • Atoka – 1203 W. Liberty Rd., 580-889-6147
    • Bethel – Choctaw Road 144, 580-241-5637
    • Broken Bow – 210 S. Chahta Rd, 580-584-6372
    • Coalgate – 105 E. California, 580-927-3641
    • Crowder – 707 Bond St., 918-334-5344
    • Durant – 2750 Big Lots Parkway, 580-924-7810
    • Hugo – 408 N. Main St., 580-326-3528
    • Idabel – 2301 E. Lincoln Road, 580-286-6116
    • McAlester – 1636 S. George Nigh Expy., 918-423-1016
    • Poteau – 208 B. St., 918-647-9324
    • Smithville – 39618 N. US Hwy. 259, 580-244-3289
    • Spiro – 19400 AES Road, 918-962-3832
    • Stigler – 2208 E. Main St., 918-967-2398
    • Talihina – 201 Dallas St., 918-567-2106
    • Wilburton – 515 Center Point Rd., 918-465-2389
    • Wright City – 5718 Rodeo Grounds Rd. 580-981-7011

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  • 12/05/13--08:26: Storm Shelter Information
  • Storm Shelter and Safety Information

    Winter Storm

    The shelter in Antlers will be open until Friday, December 13..
    If you need to contact Emergency Services, call (800) 522-6170 Ext. 2110.

    If you find yourself in need of a shelter, please call to check if the local center is available.

    • Antlers – 402 SW “O”, 580-298-5501
    • Atoka – 1203 W. Liberty Rd., 580-889-6147
    • Bethel – Choctaw Road 144, 580-241-5637
    • Broken Bow – 210 S. Chahta Rd, 580-584-6372
    • Coalgate – 105 E. California, 580-927-3641
    • Crowder – 707 Bond St., 918-334-5344
    • Durant – 2750 Big Lots Parkway, 580-924-7810
    • Hugo – 408 N. Main St., 580-326-3528
    • Idabel – 2301 E. Lincoln Road, 580-286-6116
    • McAlester – 1636 S. George Nigh Expy., 918-423-1016
    • Poteau – 208 B. St., 918-647-9324
    • Smithville – 39618 N. US Hwy. 259, 580-244-3289
    • Spiro – 19400 AES Road, 918-962-3832
    • Stigler – 2208 E. Main St., 918-967-2398
    • Talihina – 201 Dallas St., 918-567-2106
    • Wilburton – 515 Center Point Rd., 918-465-2389
    • Wright City – 5718 Rodeo Grounds Rd. 580-981-7011

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    Jones Academy Students Preparing for the Future

    EOSC Mountaineer Mania

    Preparing for life after high school at Jones Academy takes an immense amount of effort. Making plans for the future requires putting forth thought, effort and energy. This fall, Jones Academy senior high school students have participated in several activities to prepare them for the post-secondary days ahead.

    On Oct. 22, 2013, 25 students attended the College Fair at Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton. About 190 attendees from area high schools met with approximately 30 college representatives to discuss career interests and educational opportunities. A month later, on Nov. 20, 2013, the seniors returned to EOSC for Mountaineer Mania. Participants got an opportunity to preview the school which included a campus tour and an organizational fair to meet with faculty and staff from different departments. During this time, seniors looked at academic programs offered, housing and residential living, and financial aid. Students also got to mix at an outdoor picnic featuring delicious hot dogs and free T-shirts.


    Part of the students’ planning for “Life After Jones” has included tests training. This fall, students have been preparing for End-of-Instruction exams and ACT tests by practicing on the USA Test Prep program at school and home. On Oct. 26, upperclassmen benefitted from the Chad Cargill ACT Workshop, which was presented at the McAlester campus of Eastern Oklahoma State College. Cargill addressed techniques and strategies for optimizing performance on the college entry exam. The event was sponsored by the Choctaw Nation Talent Search Program.

    To date, Jones Academy students have also visited Southeastern State University, Bacone College and also the Choctaw Nation Scholarship Advisement Program’s annual Ivy League and Friends event in Durant, on Nov. 9, 2013. More college and vocational school visits are scheduled for the near future as well as planning strategies with students concerning their career goals. Jones Academy students have wonderful opportunities to maximize their learning at Jones and beyond.

    Jones Academy students Holly Andersen and Ethan Begay pick up materials from EOSC department representative.

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