President Obama with children at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in June 2014
Native News Onine will have three correspondents on the Ground in Durant today to cover this historic Presidential visit
DURANT, OKLAHOMA—Today’s visit by President Barack Obama to the Choctaw Nation in Durant, Oklahoma will be the second visit to an American Indian tribe in as many years. Last year President Obama visited the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North Dakota.
The president will deliver remarks on expanding economic opportunity for communities across the country, including the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
The Choctaw Nation was awarded a Promise Zone Designation in 2014.
Since its Promise Zone designation in 2014, Choctaw Nation has coordinated the preparation and submission of dozens of grant applications, lending its Promise Zone designation to apply special points in competitive reviews that have already resulted in more than $58 million in federal technical assistance and grants being awarded to recipients in the Choctaw Nation Promise Zone by federal agencies, including the Departments of Justice, Education, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, and others.
The Choctaw Nation has expanded its summer learning programs that help all students catch up in public schools. Choctaw Nation has widened early learning opportunities in its region with the award by HHS of a multi-year Early Head Start-Childcare Partnership Grant with Promise Zone preference. In 2014, with Choctaw Nation’s assistance, thirteen schools and communities in southeastern Oklahoma received Community Facilities Grants from USDA Rural Development with Promise Zone preference for school gardens, fitness equipment, and facility upgrades.
One of the first grants to be awarded, after consideration of Choctaw Nation’s Promise Zone preference points, was to a new health clinic in Boswell, Oklahoma. The Tribe’s partner, Pushmataha Family Medical Center, Inc., was awarded a New Access Point grant through HHS to create new jobs and provide health services in Boswell, an underserved area whose 5,700 residents are 25 miles away from medical resources and are mostly uninsured or Medicaid/Medicare eligible.
The Choctaw Nation is leveraging its Promise Zone designation to create jobs, increase economic activity, improve public safety, and attract private capital. Modern infrastructure is the key to this economic revival, so the Choctaw Nation is building water and sewer systems for public health, promoting workforce training for skilled trades and professionals, and fostering economic diversification efforts that build upon Choctaw’s agricultural resources, heritage and cultural tourism. And last month, Choctaw Nation learned that its partnership with Rural Enterprise of Oklahoma, Inc. has produced a $35 million New Markets Tax Credit allocation through the Treasury Department’s Community Development Financial Institutions fund.
The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is headquartered in Durant in southeast Oklahoma. The Tribe serves as the overall governmental hub for state and federal services to all of that region’s residents. The Choctaw Nation serves eleven rural counties (11,734 square miles) within its tribal territory. This is the second largest tribal service area in the lower 48 states, and the largest Promise Zone area.