Choctaw Nation

Grave sites at the Sardis Cemetery go back well into the 19th century and many of them are homemade.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The fight over control of Sardis Lake and water across southeastern Oklahoma pits the state against Native American tribes. To the Choctaw and Chickasaw who live in the area today — and for the Caddo who preceded them — water isn’t just vital to life: It’s culturally sacred.


U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at the Choctaw Nation headquarters in Durant, Okla. on Oct. 6, 2015.
Choctaw Nation

The U.S. Department of the Interior and the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations agreed to a settlement on Tuesday to end long-running litigation regarding a lawsuit filed by the tribes regarding federal handling of tribal resources and funds held in government trust.

Speaking at the ceremonial signing on Tuesday at Choctaw headquarters in Durant, Oklahoma, Bill Anoatubby, Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, said the settlement was a milestone in tribal and federal relations.

President Barack Obama talks with attendees of a speech in Durant, Oklahoma on July 15, 2015.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Millions of American students don’t have access to high speed internet at home, putting them at an educational disadvantage. On Wednesday, president Barack Obama began his two-day visit to Oklahoma by unveiling a new plan to bring  internet service into low income households.

The president was met with applause and introduced himself with the Choctaw greeting “Halito” at Durant High School in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Choctaw Nation website

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Oklahoma to meet with leaders of the Choctaw Nation.

Vilsack plans to tour the Choctaw Nation's Food Distribution Center in Durant on Thursday before speaking about the Agricultural Act of 2014 and Promise Zones Initiative that he says have helped to create economic growth in southern Oklahoma.

Last year, President Barack Obama designated the Choctaw Nation as the first tribal promise zone.

Gallery of the Five Civilized Tribes. The portraits were drawn or painted between 1775 and 1850.
Wikipedia Commons

The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes is holding a two-day meeting in Tulsa.

The Muscogee Creek Nation is hosting the Thursday and Friday sessions that includes the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Seminole Nations.

Muscogee Creek Nation Principal Chief George Tiger says he's also invited other tribes to attend and that about 400 people are expected.

The quarterly meetings are held to allow tribal officials to discuss ways they can cooperate on issues facing the tribes and to collaborate on projects.


Credit Flickr Creative Commons

The former director of construction administration for the Choctaw Nation is expected to testify in his own defense on charges of theft, tax fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering and bribery.

Jason Merida is on trial in federal court in Muskogee for allegedly telling contractors to make regular contributions to golf tournaments and trail rides hosted by former Chief Gregory Pyle's re-election campaign. He has pleaded not guilty.

Dave Worley

The manufacturing segment of the Choctaw Nation has announced a $10.7 million contract with the U.S. Department of Defense for 500 vehicles, modular trailers and water dispensing systems.

The equipment will support the U.S. Marine Corps. The vehicles— known as the Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement or MTVR— are designed to work under extreme off-road conditions.

Gov. Mary Fallin signs vehicle tag compact with the Choctaw Nation.
GovMaryFallin / Twitter

Gov. Mary Fallin says the state has signed a vehicle tag compact with the Choctaw Nation that will establish how Oklahoma and the tribe will work together to issue Choctaw vehicle tags.

The compact was signed during last weekend's Choctaw Nation Labor Day Festival.

Five areas across the country have been designated as "Promise Zones" by the federal government. These zones, announced by President Obama in January, are intended to tackle poverty by focusing on individual urban neighborhoods and rural areas.

In the five Promise Zones — located in Philadelphia, San Antonio, southeastern Kentucky, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and Los Angeles — the idea is to basically carpet-bomb the neighborhoods with programs like after-school classes, GED courses and job training to turn those areas around.

What Happens In The Zone?

A new chief of the third-largest Native American tribe in the United States has been sworn in.

Gary Batton was sworn in as chief of the Choctaw Nation during a ceremony Monday in Durant.

Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has been selected as one of the first five organizations to test a new anti-poverty program to improve life in chronically poor areas.

The Oklahoman reports the tribe will create a Promise Zone in an economically challenged area in southeastern Oklahoma and use community groups, businesses and schools to focus on specific education and economic development goals.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4) speaking during a ceremony Nov. 20, 2013 honoring Native American Code Talkers.
Speaker of the House John Boehner / YouTube

The Cherokee Nation and Comanche Nation were among more than 30 tribes who received a Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony Wednesday to honor Native American Code Talkers.

Congress passed an act in 2008 recognizing the work of the Code Talkers who used their native language to pass messages to confuse the enemy during World Wars I and II.

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, one of only a few Native Americans in Congress, spoke during the ceremony.

Ray Horwath /

The Choctaw Nation is celebrating the reopening of one of the state's busiest tourist information centers on Friday.

The Choctaw Nation assumed operations of the facility in Colbert in July under a five-year contract with the state.

Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory Pyle says the tribe is excited to share the Choctaw heritage with visitors. He says it's an opportunity to educate thousands of people a day about Oklahoma and the Choctaw Nation. The center will feature artwork by Choctaw artists and members of other Native American tribes.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Oklahoma City decided to build a pipeline that would eventually carry water from Sardis Lake, in southeast Oklahoma, to the city, the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations filed suit in federal court saying pretty much all of the water in that part of the state belongs to them.

That was in 2011. The parties have been negotiating outside of court since early 2012, and the case was stayed for a sixth time Sept. 17.

upwiththemooses /

Several Native American tribes across Oklahoma are holding celebrations this weekend to recognize their culture and heritage.

In Tahlequah, the Cherokee Nation is hosting the Cherokee National Holiday. The holiday commemorates the signing of the 1839 Cherokee Constitution. The event runs through Sunday and will feature arts and crafts, softball and basketball tournaments, fireworks and more.

The Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur is hosting a stomp dance, stickball and cultural demonstrations as part of a Labor Day celebration on Saturday.