Published on August 31, 2013 by Amy
Bill Anoatubby (born November 8, 1945) is the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, a position he has held since 1987. From 1979 to 1987, Anoatubby served two terms as Lieutenant Governor in the administration of Governor Overton James.
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Anoatubby was raised in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, the tribe’s first capital. In 1964, he graduated from Tishomingo High School, where he played football and was active in student government. Following graduation from high school, he attended Murray State College in Tishomingo, before transferring to East Central University in Ada, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business and accounting. Furthermore, he undertook additional studies in business and finance at ECU and Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, Oklahoma. During his college years, he served in the Oklahoma Army National Guard, attaining the rank of staff sergeant and command of a light truck platoon, before his honorable discharge in 1971. From 1972 to 1974, he was employed as an office manager for American Plating Company. From 1974 to 1975, he was employed by the Little Giant Corporation, working in the areas of accounting, budgeting, financial analysis, and electronic data processing.
In July, 1975, Anoatubby joined the Chickasaw Nation government, then based in Sulphur, Oklahoma, as Director of Tribal Health Services, where he was responsible for management of tribal health programs in a 13-county region of south central Oklahoma. The following year, he accepted appointment as director of the tribal accounting department, where he was responsible for development and improvement of tribal accounting systems. In 1978, he was appointed as Special Assistant to the Governor and Controller, where he was responsible for program and personnel management, including supervision of tribal department directors. The following year, he became the first popularly-elected Lieutenant Governor of Chickasaw Nation, and was reelected in 1983.
In 1987, Anoatubby was elected as the 30th Governor of the Chickasaw Nation, the thirteenth-largest tribe in the United States. He was reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, and 2011; on two occasions (including the most recent) he faced no opposition. He is currently serving his seventh term which expires in 2015.
As Governor, he is responsible for administration of more than 50 government programs, 13 tribal businesses and a $350 million annual budget. As Governor, he has devised a multi-pronged approach to improving conditions for the tribe in the areas of tribal finance, education, business and economic development, environmental protection, and healthcare.
Governor Bill Anoatubby appointed Charles W. Blackwell as the Chickasaw Nation’s first Ambassador to the United States in 1995. At the time of his appointment in 1995, Blackwell became the first Native American tribal ambassador to the United States from any tribal government.
In addition to his duties as Governor, Anoatubby has been a member of several civic and governmental organizations on the local, state, regional, and national levels. Since 1978, he has served as a member of the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, including stints as president and vice president of the council. In 1988, he was appointed to both the President’s Council and the board of directors of the Ada Chamber of Commerce. That same year, he was appointed to the Oklahoma Indian Affairs Commission by Governor Henry Bellmon, and was reappointed by Governor David Walters in 1991. From 1990 to 1992, he served on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail Advisory Committee for the United States Department of the Interior. From 1991 to 1998, he served on the Board of Trustees of Oklahoma City University. During 1992, he served on the Oklahoma Governor’s Healthcare Commission, established to study rural healthcare in the state. That same year, he was appointed to an Environmental Protection Agency advisory group, studying the application of agency rules in Indian Country. In 1995, he was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall Scholarship and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation by President Bill Clinton. From 1995 to 1998, he served on the Oklahoma State Board for Easter Seals and Crippled Children. In 1998, he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic Party nomination for the 3rd District U.S. House seat, taking third place in a four-candidate field. Following his defeat in the primary, he endorsed the party’s eventual nominee, then-state senator Darryl Roberts. He lives in Ada, Oklahoma with his wife, Janice Anoatubby. They have two sons and five grandchildren.
Bill Anoatubby was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2004.