Choctaw Nation Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma http://choctawnation.com/rss/ en-us 40 Star program spreads Choctaw culture to local schools <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2516/STARFrink_Group_original.jpg" alt='STAR Frink' /><br> <em>Brenner Billy leads students and Choctaw Employee Dance Troupe members in the snake dance.</em><br></p> <h2>Choctaw Dance Troupe shows traditional dances to Choctaw youth</h2> <p><em>by Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - The Choctaw Nation employee dance troupe introduced students from Frink Chambers and Krebs public schools to the Choctaw culture through interactive traditional dancing on Nov. 17.<br></p> <p>The cooperation of Jason Campbell, Director of the Success Through Academic Recognition (STAR) Program, and the schools made it possible to teach the Choctaw culture during Native American Heritage Month. The schools expressed interest in seeing traditional dances, and since Campbell is a member of the Choctaw Employee Dance Troupe, he organized the series of visits.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2517/STARFrink_MayaAndHayden_original.jpg" align="right" width="250" alt='STAR Frink Students' /><br></p> <p>“In the STAR program we work a lot with the public schools,” Campbell said. “Recently we were delivering gift cards to reward student’s grades and attendance, and while we were there, we taught them a couple of social dances. And they just loved that. That’s when the schools asked if the entire dance troupe could come back and dance.”<br></p> <p>Students in grades ranging from preschool to middle school, watched and participated in the Four Step War Dance, Raccoon Dance, Stealing Partners Dance, and Snake Dance.<br></p> <p>“I think the students need to see some of the culture, because some of these students have never experienced it,” Lagina Carano, Federal Programs Director at Frink Chambers, said.<br></p> <p>Campbell said the STAR Program and the tribe’s initiative to share our culture would not be possible without the support of Chief Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin, Jr., and the Tribal Council.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:26:22 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/star-program-spreads-choctaw-culture-to-local-schools/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/star-program-spreads-choctaw-culture-to-local-schools/ Choctaw Member makes the Big Leagues <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2508/1113LaneAdamsWithChief_original.jpg" alt='Lane Adams' /><br> <em>Lane Adams, Kansas City Royals slugger (right) presents a signed bat to Chief Gary Batton with Lane’s brother Chance Adams, Director of the Choctaw Wellness Center in Durant on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014.</em><br></p> <h3>Lane Adams has gone where only a few Choctaw athletes have gone before: The Major Leagues.<br></h3> <p><em>By Zach Maxwell</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant,Okla.</strong> - Adams, a Red Oak native who turns 25 in November, made his Major League Baseball debut on Sept. 1 with the Kansas City Royals. He saw action in six games before the Royals went on to the playoffs and an American League championship.<br></p> <p>The 6-4 outfielder is on the 40-man roster for the Royals and will report to the team for spring training in February in Arizona. In the meantime, he is participating in a weight training regimen orchestrated by his brother Chance Adams at the Choctaw Wellness Center in Durant.<br></p> <p>“My first time on the field was as a pinch runner,” Adams said. “The family was able to come up and the crowd was electric. You just stand back, take a breath and enjoy the moment.”<br></p> <p>Adams became the first Choctaw in recent memory to score a Major League run on Sept. 20 when he was pinch runner for Salvador Perez. Adams took second base on a wild pitch and scored when Eric Hosmer hit a single.<br></p> <p>Chief Gary Batton called Adams when the playoffs started to wish him good luck. “It’s good having a guy like that in your corner,” said Adams. He also credits brother Chance and their mother Shelley Free for encouraging him to pursue his goals.<br></p> <p>Adams said his mother gave him an ultimatum during his sophomore year, one that shaped the destiny of this young man. He says he wanted to quit baseball at that time and told his mother as much on the way home from a tournament.<br></p> <p>Adams said she pulled up to a stop sign – one direction went home to Red Oak and baseball; the other to Wilburton and summer jobs. He chose Red Oak.<br></p> <p>“She wouldn’t let me quit anything,” he said. “She’s a big influence.”<br></p> <p>Brother Chance Adams enjoys helping Lane go through a work out regimen during the off season at the Wellness Center in Durant. He says tribal members are fortunate to have such facilities staffed by people with high expertise in work out regimens.<br></p> <p>“Seeing all of his hard work come to fruition is rewarding for me,” said Chance, director of Choctaw Wellness Center. “I’m able to do something I enjoy and have an impact on his career as an athlete.”<br></p> <p>Lane also excelled at basketball while at Red Oak, earning a scholarship to Missouri State University before being drafted by the Royals. He finished as the fifth-leading scorer in Oklahoma prep basketball history with 3,251 points and led Red Oak to the Class B championship in 2009. Lane maintains his connection with the Choctaw Nation through a variety of ways, including his off-season work outs at the Wellness Center. This connection has been present throughout his life, Lane said, starting when the late Randle Durant helped finance his team’s summer league play.<br></p> <p>“They provide opportunities a lot of people don’t get,” he said. “They have helped me and my family forever. I’m proud to be Choctaw and glad I can put some positive spotlight on the tribe.”<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:39:43 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-member-makes-the-big-leagues/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-member-makes-the-big-leagues/ Dalton Wood carries the Choctaw spirit to the Sooners <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2507/DWoodField_original.jpg" alt='Dalton Wood' /><br> <em>Choctaw Nation member Dalton Wood and Coach Bryan Pratt (far right) of the McAlester Buffaloes recently met with Chief Gary Batton and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. at the football stadium in McAlester.</em></p> <h3>Wood commits to OU to play football</h3> <p><em>By Zach Maxwell</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><bt></p> <p><strong>McAlester, Okla.</strong> - Dalton Wood has the heart of a Choctaw warrior, with the scars to prove it.<br> Wood is a senior at McAlester High School, where he has helped the Buffaloes football team to a 9-1 record as the team’s quarterback.<br> His long and determined road to football success has guided him through injuries— including heart surgery—and now a potential career as a tight end at the University of Oklahoma.<br> Wood recently committed to the Sooners. OU, Oklahoma State University, Clemson, and Arizona State all recruited him, thanks to his talent on the field and an aggressive campaign by his coach, Bryan Pratt.<br> And a recent meeting with Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. was more like a family reunion than a formal meet-and-greet.<br> Batton graduated in the same class as Wood’s mother, Khris, at Clayton High School. The Woods moved to McAlester when Dalton was in second grade. “One of the biggest things to be thankful for is family, but also being Choctaw,” Wood said.<br> Batton applauded Wood for being a scholar-athlete, expressing pride that so many Choctaws are excelling in the classroom and on the field.<br> “I don’t know if he realizes it, but he is setting a great example for Choctaw kids,” Batton said. “It’s awesome.”<br> At 6-foot-4, Wood has the build and the skills that attracted the attention of Coach Cale Gundy at OU. But his first three years at McAlester were tests of adversity and determination.<br> He collapsed during a game in his sophomore year, revealing an issue with his heart that required surgery. He was back on the field before the end of the season.<br> Then, in his junior year, he broke an ankle. But this season has been a breakout year for Wood.<br> “He has a competitive spirit and likes to win, it’s in his blood,” said Pratt. “There’s a drive in him that a lot of kids don’t have.”<br> That drive has Wood on the verge of something Choctaws and OU fans will love: A Choctaw on the Sooners’ roster.<br> “It pushes me to do my best,” he said. “For most (high school) players, this will be the last time they play football. But I’m lucky and I get to keep playing, so I want to do my best for my teammates.”<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 21:24:28 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/dalton-wood-carries-the-choctaw-spirit-to-the-sooners/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/dalton-wood-carries-the-choctaw-spirit-to-the-sooners/ Outstanding Choctaw Elders Honored <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2506/Out_Elders_1_original.jpg" alt='Outstanding Elders' /><br> <em>Choctaw Nation Outstanding Elders of 2014, Ronnie Scott and Rosa Gilmore pictured with Chief Gary Batton, their Councilmen, Anthony Dillard and Ted Dosh, and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr.</em><br></p> <h3>Outstanding Choctaw Elders Honored</h3> <p><em>By ZACH MAXWELL</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p>Ronnie Scott and Rosa Gilmore - the Choctaw Nation Outstanding Elders for 2014 - understand that passing on their wisdom is crucial for upcoming generations.<br> “Just think positive in your thoughts,” said Gilmore, who si from Durant. “Younger people should think about the handicapped and sick people. Think about how the world is.<br> “And they should stay in school.”<br> Gilmore and Scott were the top honorees at a banquet for Outstanding Choctaw Elders held in Durant on Oct. 14. This is the 15th year of the Outstanding Elders program organized by the Senior Nutrition Program.<br> “The main thing is to trust in yourself and reach for for goals no matter what obstacles get in your way,” Scott, who is from Atoka, said. “Have faith, be good to others and teach others what your parents and grandparents taught you.<br> One of the first honorees from 2000, Rev. Bertram Bobb, offered the opening and closing prayers as Tribal Chaplain.<br> Both Chief Gary Batton and Council Speaker Delton Cox praised the elders for setting a high example for new generations.<br> “The path you have set for us in the Choctaw Nation, we want to continue that,” Batton said. “I appreciate all the examples you have set for us.”<br> “You’re the ones who started what we have today,” Cox said.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 15:58:42 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/outstanding-choctaw-elders-honored/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/outstanding-choctaw-elders-honored/ Choctaw Nation breaks ground on Poteau clinic expansion <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2503/1107PoteauClinicGroundbreakSM1_original.jpg" alt='Poteau Clinic Groundbreaking' /><br> <em>Chief Gary Batton and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. joined several Choctaw Nation employees and local dignitaries on Friday, Nov. 7 for a ground-breaking ceremony at the Rubin White Clinic in Poteau. The 21,000-square-foot expansion will greatly enhance health care and wellness for Choctaw Nation citizens and employees in the northeastern area.</em><br></p> <h3>Rubin White Clinic will add 21,000 square feet to serve northeastern districts</h3> <p><em>By ZACH MAXWELL</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – Choctaw Nation broke ground on a 21,000-square-foot expansion of the Rubin White Clinic located at 109 Kerr Avenue in Poteau earlier this month.<br></p> <p>Chief Gary Batton and Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. were joined by numerous tribal councilmen, employees and Poteau area dignitaries for the ceremony under clear blue skies.<br></p> <p>“I’m excited about the opportunity to provide more services to our tribal members and employees,” Batton said. “This used to be our flagship of clinics, so this is a huge win. Access to health care is always an issue and a lot of people don’t realize this will also add more providers.”<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2502/RWHC_Expansion_original.jpg" align="right" width="250" alt='Poteau Expansion Rendering ' /></p> <p>Once the expansion is complete, an additional 20 to 25 employees – including health care providers – will be needed to staff the new facility.<br></p> <p>“This gives us an opportunity to provide services which we have never been able to provide before,” said Brian Wren, director of the Poteau clinic. “This constitutes a true expansion, so it’s an exciting time.”<br></p> <p>New or enhanced services will include pediatrics, podiatry, behavioral health, optometry, physical therapy and employee health. A wellness center is part of the overall expansion and will include exercise facilities and a basketball court.<br> Minor renovations will be made to the existing mammography clinic and lab services area.<br> </p> <p>The expansion should be complete in 2015.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 17:48:49 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-breaks-ground-on-poteau-clinic-expansion/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-breaks-ground-on-poteau-clinic-expansion/ Foster Care Christmas Fund <p>Halito,<br></p> <p>Gift Cards Mean Freedom for Kids in Foster Care! Freedom isn’t an idea often associated with gift cards. But for kids in foster care, a gift card during the holidays can mean freedom, choice, opportunity and something new.<br></p> <p>The Choctaw Nation Children and Family Services is asking for your help in assuring a Merry Christmas for our Choctaw children in foster care. We are asking anyone interested in donating to the Foster Care Christmas fund to please do so by purchasing a $20 Walmart Gift Card.<br> Please take the donation to your local Children and Family Services office in Durant, Atoka, Hugo, McAlester, Broken Bow, Idabel, Poteau, and Talihina. Or mail them to Choctaw Nation Children and Family Services: Adoptions and Foster Care, PO Box 1210, Durant, OK 74702. </p> <p>Yakoke!<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 19:51:40 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/foster-care-christmas-fund/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/foster-care-christmas-fund/ Reaching new heights at Choctaw Casino Resort <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2487/CasinoTop_Horizontal_original.JPG" alt='Topping Off 2014 ' /><br></p> <h3>Hotel tops out at 14th story</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation</em><br></p> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - The Choctaw Nation held a topping out ceremony, a construction milestone, for the Choctaw Casino Resort Expansion in Durant on Oct. 30.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2488/Screen_Shot_2014-11-04_at_1.20.51_PM_original.png" align="right" alt='Screenshot' /> The event was held atop the current parking garage, with a view of the construction and casino grounds. Dignitaries, employees, as well as anyone in attendance signed the last beam to be placed on the new hotel tower, and a tree was hoisted and placed on the newly finished top floor to symbolize growth and offer thanks for the natural materials used in construction.<br></p> <p>Chief Gary Batton said this expansion is an investment in tribal members, in the community of Durant, and in this area of the country.<br> “One of the things that is important to us is the economic impact that we have here in Durant,” Batton said. “We’ve had over 400 people working on this particular site. Once we finish, we will hire more than 300 people—that’s over 700 employment opportunities for our people here in southeastern Oklahoma.”<br></p> <p>He went on to explain the Nation is working to make the area a regional tourist destination. “We believe in investing in tourism, not only here, but we are trying to invest throughout the 10 1/2 counties. We want people to come and visit north Texas and southeastern Oklahoma,” Batton said.<br></p> <p>In addition to the new hotel tower featuring 231 rooms, 55 suites, and a full-service spa with a hair and nail salon, the expansion will include an event venue and additional conference space. In Fall 2015, the expansion will be completed and feature 600 additional slot machines, more food and beverage options, and an entertainment complex featuring a 20-lane bowling alley, arcade, laser tag, and cinema complex with four state-of-the-art theaters.<br></p> <p>Janie Dillard, Executive Director of Gaming for the Choctaw Nation, said the reasons for the expansion are to continue the growth of the Nation’s economic development, bring more jobs to southeastern Oklahoma, and develop this property to a full family oriented resort so the whole family can come and enjoy entertainment.<br></p> <p>“We are beginning to lay a foundation, this is the first phase of many other openings, and we aren’t finished yet,” Dillard said.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 19:40:34 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/reaching-new-heights-at-choctaw-casino-resort/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/reaching-new-heights-at-choctaw-casino-resort/ Choctaw Nation to hold Veterans Ceremony on Nov. 11 <h3>Choctaw Nation to hold Veterans Ceremony on Nov. 11</h3> <p><strong>Durant, Okla.</strong> - The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is honoring its veterans with a special ceremony at 11 a.m. Nov. 11 on the tribe’s capitol grounds, Tvshka Homma.<br></p> <p>Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. and the Tribal Council welcome all Choctaw veterans and their families to the annual event.<br> </p> <p>“Every day is a day to honor our veterans,” said Chief Batton. “They have our everlasting gratitude. Veterans Day gives us a chance to say ‘yakoke’ – thank you.”<br></p> <p>Choctaw Nation staff will arrive early to prepare for the event to be held at the War Memorial. Black granite monuments stand for World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and the War on Terrorism. There are 138 names etched on the walls of Choctaw warriors who have lost their lives in action.<br></p> <p>There is also a monument recognizing the Choctaw Code Talkers of World War I and World War II. The original Code Talkers were a group of Choctaw men who chose to fight for their land and their people before being accepted as “citizens” of the United States. They were a deciding factor leading to the end of World War I.<br> </p> <p>Many of the veterans travel hundreds of miles to visit with old friends. Sons and daughters lay their hands on a monument to touch a beloved name. All gather in respect for those who pay the price for our freedom.<br></p> <p>The program will include a free gift to each Choctaw veteran and presentations by the Choctaw Nation Royalty, Color Guard, Chief Batton, Lt. General Leroy Sisco and the Talihina High School Band.<br> </p> <p>The capitol grounds are located off Hwy. 271, north of Tuskahoma, Okla.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 15:02:32 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-to-hold-veterans-ceremony-on-nov-11/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/choctaw-nation-to-hold-veterans-ceremony-on-nov-11/ “Achukma” pecan oil business, achukma hoke! <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2460/DSC_7675_original.JPG" alt='Dan and Mark Hamilton' /><br> <em>Dan Hamilton (left) and Mark Hamilton (right) stand beside the machinery they use to produce the clean, cold pressed, unrefined “Achukma” pecan oil. Some of the machines used in the process had to be imported or fabricated to get even more oil out of the meats of the Oklahoma pecans. (PHOTO BY BRANDON FRYE)</em><br></p> <h3>Choctaw businessman keeps it natural and healthy</h3> <p><em>By Brandon Frye</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>Coleman, Okla.</strong> - A year and a half after spearheading the development of a new product for his family business&#8211;wearing the hats of a researcher, business planner, production manager, and engineer along the way&#8211; Mark Hamilton, retired Oklahoma educator and coach, found himself in a room full of Choctaw Nation employees explaining the natural benefits of pecan oil.<br></p> <p>But the story of “Achukma,” 100% pure virgin pecan oil, does not start there in that room.<br></p> <p>It starts with Hamilton, a family man, a businessman, an Oklahoman, and a man often seen wearing a cap and a pair of work boots. He is a figure-it-out kind of guy, and had to be during the production of “Achukma“ pecan oil.<br></p> <p>“I was assigned the project with one directive: figure it out,” Hamilton said. The Hamilton family business, Tri-Agri Farm Center, lead by Mark’s father Dan Hamilton, had their hands in multiple products and services over the years, including animal feed and peanut handling. But, after the peanut growing business had moved out of Oklahoma and into Texas and other areas in 1999, the Hamiltons were left with equipment ready to be repurposed, a series of problems to be solved, and an opportunity.<br></p> <p>And so began the journey that has led to the Hamiltons operating one of the largest pecan cleaning and marketing operations in Oklahoma. In the spring of 2013, the Hamiltons found themselves faced with a new challenge and a new opportunity. An unstable economic environment surrounding the production and sale of pecans left some Oklahoma growers and harvesters with crops of little value. And the normal selection process left many smaller pecans, and pieces of pecans, with no value at all.<br></p> <p>But pecans are an important crop to Oklahoma, especially the native pecan. Oklahoma is very well suited for growing pecans, because the pecan tree is native to the area. Oklahoma produces, on average, 12 to 15 million pounds of pecans a year, according to Hamilton. Those pecans help generate money in cash crop value to the state of Oklahoma, and help provide jobs for people in the industry like harvesters and cleaners.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2461/DSC_7693_original.JPG" align="right" width="250" alt='Pecan Bucket' /><br></p> <p>So, the Hamiltons began looking into ways to stabilize the market, benefit the growers, use more Oklahoma pecans, and offer a pure and healthy product to consumers. “To create another market venue for Oklahoma pecans, we started looking at pecan oil,” Hamilton said. “We asked what areas could benefit from a pecan-based product. Most of the pecan usage in this country is over the holidays, but we wanted a product that would allow people to benefit from pecans year-round.”<br></p> <p>A few hurdles popped up along the way, the biggest of which was figuring out just how to get all of that healthy oil out of the pecan. “We developed a process that allows us to effectively extract the oil that is much more effective than the common process,” Hamilton said. They made adjustments to equipment, imported new and rare machines, and were left with a unique process.<br></p> <p>It all happens at the Hamilton family business, which is tucked away down a side road in Coleman. Without looking closely, it might perfectly blend in with the rest of the small Oklahoma town. From a distance, there appears to be only a gray building, but once the road hooks around, a view opens up to a line of trees surrounding holding bins, trailers, and birds playing on equipment once used to prepare peanuts.<br></p> <p>Walking into the room where “Achukma” pecan oil is made is like stepping through the gate of an old country road into a pristine laboratory. The walls are a shiny metallic, the ground is a smooth and spotless concrete, and the machines stand as simple bins, tubes, tanks, and machinery arranged to enact a streamlined experiment. During production, the pecans move through a series of procedures designed to keep the oil as fresh and pure as possible. Heat and chemicals, which would break down the oil, are never used. Instead, the pecans are spun and cold pressed as nearly all of the oil is extracted from the meat of the nut. In the end, pecan oil, pecan flour, and a form of pecan butter are left in a clean, whole, and pure state.<br></p> <p>With a fresh product, the Hamiltons started researching names. “I am Choctaw, my family moved to Boggy Depot, Indian territory, in 1872 and have been here ever since. We embrace our Choctaw heritage. I wanted to have our name represent our intent, to provide a natural, healthy product. My mother found the word achukma, which can mean good, beautiful, pure; and one of these days, I intend for achukma to be recognized world-wide.” Hamilton added that they are well on their way to that, with customer interest from as far away as Egypt and China.<br></p> <p>Almost two years later Hamilton found himself in what was later referred to as the Choctaw Nations’ version of the “Shark Tank” (a reality competition show where entrepreneurs make business presentations), the group had come together to explore in what ways the Hamilton family business could benefit from the programs the Choctaw Nation offers.<br></p> <p>In regards to “Achukma“ pecan oil, the product of Hamilton’s labors, he said the health benefits are tremendous. “We have learned so much. It is a great cooking oil, is good for your skin, and is even good for treating leather. I am really excited about the potential.” This got the ball rolling and piqued the interest of the group. Dale Jackson, Senior Business Analyst for the Choctaw Nation, said that he works to take tribal members and their companies and help them grow. “I see a unique opportunity here,” he said, adding that his family has enjoyed using the pecan oil before.<br><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2463/Pecan_PecanOilProducts_BF_original.jpg" align="right" width="300" alt='Pecan Oil' /></p> <p>The product practically sells itself, said Hamilton’s Director of Marketing, Russell Washington. “If you let me talk to someone for two or three minutes, they’ll buy it,” he said during the meeting. “It’s not that you have to convince them to buy it, it’s just that most people have never heard of pecan oil and are not aware of its nutritional benefits.” <br></p> <p>Washington listed all of the perks and benefits of the oil to the group. It is gluten-free, so it is safe for people with gluten sensitivity or allergies. It is cold pressed and unrefined, so it stays as pure and healthy as the pecan itself. It contains antioxidants, which help prevent the oxidation and damage of cells. It contains healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids, which help with normal metabolism. It is never genetically modified, and so is a more natural and tasty product.<br></p> <p>According to Dr. Lloyd Sumner, microbiologist with Noble Foundation Research in Ardmore, “We (Drs. Zhentian Lei and myself) are collaborating with Native American Specialty Products to better assess the chemical nature of the nutritional components of the pecan oil; especially antioxidant phenolics and polyunsaturated fats.” This research could lead to the understanding of even more beneficial applications of the pecan products.<br></p> <p>And if the health benefits are not enough, Washington added, “My wife has tested it, and listen, guys, it makes the best chicken fried steak of your life.” Veree Shaw, Marketing Director for the Choctaw Nation, offered to help Hamilton and his pecan oil by looking into label printing and placing the items in Choctaw outlets like the welcome centers.<br></p> <p>The Hamiltons offer more than just pecan oil for culinary creations. They also supply a pecan flour as a pure and unrefined sidekick to the oil. And a blend of the oil is also packaged and sold as New Life Leather Treatment. Their products are currently available online at <a href="http://www.achukma.com">Achukma</a>, or over the phone at (580) 937-4300, and will soon be available through health food stores, Choctaw Nation outlets, and the venues are still growing.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:36:54 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/achukma-pecan-oil-business-achukma-hoke/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/achukma-pecan-oil-business-achukma-hoke/ Elder Spotlight – Mr. and Mrs. Benton. <p><img src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/choctaw-msldigital/assets/2459/Unknown_original.jpeg" alt='Bentons' /><br> <em>Nathan Benton, full-blood Choctaw, and wife Aline Benton, full-blood Cherokee, meet with Chief Gary Batton at the Wichita Cultural Meeting on Oct.5. Mr. and Mrs. Benton met in youth while at the Haskell Institute, and Nathan&#8217;s father was an original enrollee.</em><br></p> <h3>Full-blood Choctaw and Full-blood Cherokee love, grow up, and spend life together.</h3> <p><em>By BRANDON FRYE</em><br> <em>Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma</em><br></p> <p><strong>DURANT, Okla.</strong> – Nathan Benton, full-blood Choctaw, and wife Aline Benton, full-blood Cherokee, met in youth while at the Haskell Indian Institute, what was then a high school and is now known as Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. They have been together ever since.<br></p> <p>“We met at a church service on Sunday night,” Mr. Benton said. “We were walking out of the building and just started a conversation, that’s where it began.”<br></p> <p>The two of them had attended separate boarding schools during grade school. Mrs. Benton was a member of the Seneca Indian School, in Wyandotte, Okla. Mr. Benton attended the Jones Academy with the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>He recalled a story from third grade where he and his cousin Jesse James (not the outlaw) left the academy on foot for Thanksgiving break, aiming to make it all the way home to Talihina. They walked a ways and ended up hitching a ride on the back of a farmer’s wagon. Mr. Benton found a dime in the back, and the farmer let the two stay the night and eat his wife’s cooking. The next day, they made it into town on foot and bought a loaf of bread to eat with that dime, but it was molded and they did without.<br></p> <p>&#8220;It sounds like hardship, but we took it in stride,” Mr. Benton said. The day they made it home after a three-day journey, Nathan was driven back and it only took half a day. Only Nathan got the ride, cousin Jesse stayed back.<br></p> <p>In high school, Mr. Benton was interested in mechanics and agriculture, and Mrs. Benton took classes in home economics and core subjects.<br> </p> <p>“I was a boxer back in those days, too,” Mr. Benton said. “That was in ‘45. We had a boxing program, so we boxed around different towns in Oklahoma. I had been boxing since when I weighed 65 pounds.”<br></p> <p>In the summers, Mr. Benton would harvest wheat with a group for a contractor, a job which took them from Texas up to the Canada/U.S. border. And when he graduated from high school, he went back to study mechanics as a post-grad.<br></p> <p>He was drafted into the Army for the Korean War in 1950, but before he left, he married the love of his life, Aline.<br></p> <p>After two years of service, Mr. Benton was honorably discharged after receiving a knee injury. “My wife and I moved back to Lawrence, Kansas,” he said. “I went to work as a heavy equipment operator, and when I would finish a contract, I had to look for another job.”<br></p> <p>After finishing a contract, the man who trained Nathan in auto mechanics talked him into taking a position at Chilocco Indian Boarding School.<br></p> <p>Mr. and Mrs. Benton worked until retirement at the school. Mr. Benton taught heavy machinery, and Mrs. Benton fed the 1,200 students three meals a day. To this day, Mr. Benton has retired from four jobs.<br></p> <p>They had five children, 14 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren, all descendants of Mr. Benton’s father, Nathan Hale Benton Sr., who was an original enrollee of the Choctaw Nation.<br></p> <p>The two celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary on Oct. 10, 2014. When asked what it took to stay together for so long, Mrs. Benton said, “I would say you need love. That’s the key. Because when you love each other, you have consideration for each other. And we got married to stay married when we got married.”<br></p> <p>Mr. and Mrs. Benton agreed that their faith played a large role. “The biggest factor is we are both Christians and have served the Lord all of these years,” Mr. Benton said. “We just lived by our Christian principles, and that was always our guide.”<br></p> <p>The two have been charter members of the Hillcrest Bible Baptist Church in Arkansas City, Kans., their local church for 51 years. “The lord blesses us all, and we kept close to him,” they said.<br></p> <p><!-- AddThis Button BEGIN --></p> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook_like" fb:like:layout="button_count"></a> <a class="addthis_button_tweet"></a> <a class="addthis_button_pinterest_pinit"></a> <a class="addthis_counter addthis_pill_style"></a> </div> <script type="text/javascript" src="//s7.addthis.com/js/300/addthis_widget.js#pubid=xa-51768a9b29d4b994"></script> <p><!-- AddThis Button END --></p> Tue, 14 Oct 2014 18:00:05 GMT http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/elder-spotlight-mr-and-mrs-benton-/ http://choctawnation.com/news-room/press-room/media-releases/elder-spotlight-mr-and-mrs-benton-/