National

ICT interview with Gary Batton, new leader of Choctaw Nation





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Gary Batton, right, at his inauguration ceremony on April 28, 2014. Photo from Choctaw Nation

Indian Country County talks to Gary Batton, the new leader of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, about his goals and priorities:
What have your first days in office been like?

For me, it’s been a bittersweet feeling. Chief Pyle and I have been friends for 27 years. At the same time, I’m excited about the future. I’m excited about the platform Chief Pyle and I have set.

The tribe is more stable financially than ever before, which allows me to have more opportunities in regards to getting services to our tribal members. It allows me more opportunity to expand our businesses so we employ our tribal members and create diversification off of gaming. It will allow us to be not so dependable on the federal government, which allows our tribal members to be independent.

With Chief Pyle and myself, the philosophy has not changed whatsoever. We do what is best for our Choctaws. We’re trying to set a path of sustainability for the next 100 years.

What will you do that’s specifically your own vision?

With culture and heritage, I’m going to expand that and continue to grow that. We cannot forget the old ways. I’m starting a Council on Wisdom. You always have to make sure you remain accountable to our people. I’m wanting to go back to the grassroots, where we’re listening to our people and know what they want to say.

Get the Story:
New Choctaw Chief Gary Batton and His Council of Wisdom (Indian Country Today 5/22)

Related Stories:
Choctaw Nation swears in first new chief in nearly two decades (04/29)
Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle set to retire after 17 years (4/22)