Chickasaw Nation Hosts 27th Annual Elders Conference

Chickasaw Elders Conference

THACKERVILLE, OK – Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby highlighted the importance and wisdom of elders during the annual Chickasaw Nation Elders Conference conducted recently at WinStar Resort and Convention Center. Taking place in person for the first time in four years, nearly 550 Chickasaw elders from across the United States attended the conference, which was themed as a celebration of elders’ health, happiness and longevity.

“You and your experiences and insights are extremely valuable to us,” said Chickasaw Governor Anoatubby. “Through sharing your history and ideas with us, we have, and will continue to, glean a great deal of your wisdom.”

Governor Anoatubby said elders’ wisdom serves as a blueprint to successfully navigate the perpetually shifting landscape of life. “Your perspectives, steeped in the wisdom of experience and time, serve as a compass that guides our community,” continued Anoatubby. “In large part, our traditions and values make us who we are as Chickasaws and as a collective nation of people. Values such as perseverance, faith, adaptability, honor, courage and a strong sense of community are indispensable, as they will always be integral to our identity as Chickasaws.”

Governor Anoatubby also spoke of critical topics including sovereignty, the Chickasaw Constitution and the Chickasaw Cultural Center’s history and development, providing in-depth insight into the Chickasaw Nation’s three decades of progress. “It’s been a long journey,” said Anoatubby. Currently, the Chickasaw Nation employees about 14,000 workers and offers services including education, healthcare, and housing programs, and extends many of those services to Chickasaws who live “at large” or outside the Chickasaw Nation treaty territory.

“We started that several years ago, and the motto was, ‘If you are Chickasaw, it does not matter where you live, you are still Chickasaw,’” said Anoatubby. “So that is the approach that we take. We believe that it’s important to go beyond boundaries to assist people.”

27th annual Chickasaw Elders Conference

The Chickasaw Elders Conference has been conducted for 27 years, beginning at the Chickasaw Motor Inn, Sulphur, OK. The event later moved to Lake Texoma Lodge and finally WinStar Resort and Convention Center in 2006. Forums such as the elders conference give tribal officials the opportunity to glean insight from Chickasaw elders on their needs and concerns, while also providing a venue for elders to get vital information they may need.

Full-blood Chickasaw Nina Crossley has attended several elders conferences for the past two decades.

“I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to the Chickasaw elders, merely because it gives them a time to all get together and be informed of the services that they may not be aware of,” said Crossley. “We have topics that pertain strictly to the elders, information that they need.”

Crossley said she appreciates the Chickasaw Nation investing in the well-being of elders. “They have energy assistance, dental, tribal health, everything that can go back to help the citizens.”

“The Homeland Today,” a presentation by Chickasaw Nation Department of Culture and Humanities Director of Research and Cultural Interpretation LaDonna Brown and several informative presentations were included during the two-day conference. Other presenters included: Oklahoma Department of Human Services Legal Services Developer Barbara Gwinn, who presented “Advanced Directives, Healthcare POA and the DNR;” Michaelle Statham, Alzheimer’s Association, Oklahoma chapter, “Understanding Alzheimer’s and the Resources Available;” and “Rethinking, Reimagining and Reinventing Aging and Aging Services,” presented by Sandy Markwood, USAging CEO , of Washington, D.C.