Statement made on 04 February 2009 by Senator Rod Zimmer (retired)
Hon. Rod A.A. Zimmer:
Honourable senators, I rise today to inform you of the Chickasaw Nation, a Native American tribe that extends over 13 Oklahoma counties. The Chickasaw Nation strives to build a strong and stable economy and a self-sufficient community for the
Chickasaw people by generating funds to their Commerce Division to provide services and programs to the Chickasaw communities, families, youth and elders. Their slogan, "United We Thrive," describes the mission of the Chickasaw Nation.
One of the top priorities of the Chickasaw Nation is to preserve and share the heritage of the Chickasaw history, language and culture, which has been passed down from generation to generation through storytelling. The nation organizes programs designed to continue the process with the youth and elders of the tribe. Chickasaw people have always valued their communities and families and the Chickasaw Nation preserves this value by providing programs and services that benefit Chickasaw families, children, youth and, of course, elders, whom they consider living treasures.
The Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, Bill Anoatubby, has initiated an unprecedented effort focused on the potential of Chickasaw youth—the tribe's most valuable resource—as a means of preserving the tribe's culture and securing its future success. This is being done through a multitude of services and programs focused on youth, in addition to upholding education as a top priority within the nation.
Honourable senators, the Chickasaw Nation also offers the Chickasaw people health services that promote healing and wellness in addition to various legal services for its citizens. The legal department is concerned in particular with keeping juveniles out of trouble by offering programs that work to educate and protect Chickasaw youths.
The nation's commerce division owns and operates 58 commercial businesses with 10,000 employees. These businesses include 17 casinos, two of which are Oklahoma's largest casinos — Riverwind and WinStar. The WinStar World Casino is one of the five largest casinos in the world. In addition, they also own and operate hotels, restaurants, retail travel plazas, tobacco stores, a family entertainment centre, a chocolate factory, radio stations and a newspaper.
The core competency of the commerce division is the gaming industry, and despite the current economic crisis, this gaming industry in Oklahoma is going strong. Oklahoma is one of only eight states to see double-digit growth in tribal gaming revenue in 2007. Tribal gaming in Oklahoma generated nearly $2.5 billion in revenue in 2007, ranking behind only California and Connecticut.
Net income from the commerce division, and in particular Chickasaw Nation casinos, provides the Chickasaw people with the opportunity to receive vital and essential services, including health care, aging, youth and family, educational and transportation services. Such revenues offer the nation the opportunity to invest in yet other businesses and industries that together will create stable, quality jobs and a successful and self-sufficient community of Chickasaw peoples for years to come.