About Chief Gary Batton...
Gary Batton was born December 15, 1966 in Wichita, Kansas. He was the youngest child of Earl and Dolly Batton. He is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He graduated from Clayton High School in Clayton, Oklahoma, followed by earning a Bachelor of Business Management from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Chief Gary Batton began working for the tribe in 1987 and held positions in purchasing, housing, and health. He served as executive director of Choctaw Nation Health Services prior to being named assistant chief in 2007. As director, Chief Batton led construction of a state-of-the-art health care center, completely funded by the tribe, to replace the Choctaw Nation hospital that was built in the 1930s.
Chief Batton won the 2015 election with 86.52% of the vote, becoming the 47th Chief of the Choctaw Nation. and only the third elected Chief since reestablishment of the constitution of 1983. Since then, he continually has proven his leadership through numerous accomplishments for tribal members and for southeastern Oklahoma. He believes in the vision of living out the Chahta spirit of faith, family and culture.
To show his commitment to faith, he has built a chapel and dedicated the Ten Commandments Monument at Tvshka Homma, posted the Ten Commandments throughout the Choctaw Nation, hired a chaplain available for all employees, and passed a Council Resolution declaring the Choctaw Nation a Christian nation.
To revitalize culture, Batton has started a Choctaw dictionary, a Choctaw hymnal app, and declared the first Monday of every month as Heritage Monday, and the wearing of traditional dress, making pottery, singing hymns and speaking our language are now common.
Under Chief Batton's leadership, the Nation achieves over a $2.5 Billion dollar economic impact in Oklahoma, with expansions to casinos and new travel plazas among the top construction items. In August 2021, the new 21-Story, $600 million dollar luxury Sky Tower Hotel and entertainment venue, opened at the Choctaw Casino Resort - Durant. With an eye to the future, the Choctaw Nation continues to diversify with defense contracts, ammunition plants, restaurants, and food markets.
Job opportunities have risen dramatically in recent years, with over 13,000 currently employed by the Choctaw Nation. Educational and career development programs have helped many tribal members to develop skill sets that enhance their ability to achieve a higher standard of living for their families.
Protecting sovereignty, Chief Batton secured an historic timber settlement with the United States, and a water agreement between the federal government and the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. Choctaw tribal members can now purchase Choctaw Nation vehicle license tags and Choctaw veteran license tags in Oklahoma as well as state hunting and fishing licenses. The tribe has also welcomed visits from heads of state including President Barack Obama and Prime Minister of Ireland Leo Varadkar.
A new headquarters building in Durant, opened in 2018, is a centralized location for tribal members and employees where the atmosphere is one of collaboration and Choctaw culture. The headquarters is located near the regional health clinic on an expanding campus which recently added the Choctaw Nation’s first judicial center.
Chief Batton has been recognized as one of Oklahoma's Most Admired CEO's, as an Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador and as Outstanding Alumni of Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and in 2020, was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame. Chief Batton has been named Most Admired CEO by The Journal Record, Oklahoma Creativity Ambassador by Creative Oklahoma, recognized by Southeastern Oklahoma State University as an Outstanding Alumni, and in 2020 was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame.
Batton and his wife, Angie, reside in Clayton. They have two children and two grandchildren.