|Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma|
|Assumed office |
April 28, 2014
|Preceded by||Gregory E. Pyle|
|Assistant Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma|
May 31, 2007 – April 28, 2014
|Leader||Gregory E. Pyle|
|Preceded by||Mike Bailey|
|Succeeded by||Jack Austin|
|Born||December 15, 1966|
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|Education||Southeastern Oklahoma State University (BA)|
Gary Dale Batton (born December 15, 1966) is a tribal administrator and politician, the current and 47th Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. It is the third-largest federally recognized tribe and second-largest reservation in total area.
Batton was appointed as Chief on April 28, 2014 upon Chief Gregory E. Pyle's retirement. He was elected as Chief in his own right in a general election on July 11, 2015, with 86.5% of the vote. In 2019, Batton was unopposed in seeking a second full term.
Early life and career
Batton was born on December 15, 1966 in Wichita, Kansas. His mother was a full-blood Choctaw, and his father was from West Virginia. His family moved to Oklahoma, where he graduated from Clayton High School in Clayton, Oklahoma in 1985. He attended Southeastern Oklahoma State University, graduating in 1989 with a Bachelor's degree in Business Management.
Batton had begun working for the Choctaw Nation in 1987 as a clerk in the Purchasing Department. Upon graduating from SOSU, he was selected for the position of Deputy Director of the Choctaw Nation Housing Authority.
In 1997 he was chosen as Executive Director of the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority. Upon the retirement of Assistant Chief Mike Bailey in May 2007, Batton was selected as Assistant Chief. During his career as Executive Director of the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority, Batton assisted by adding, replacing, and expanding clinics as well as enhancing the treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.
At the time the tribe was embroiled in allegations of corruption by contractors and a tribal officer related to construction projects, including one for a casino. Neither Pyle nor Batton were charged in relation to this federal case. By November 2014, six men had pleaded guilty in a "fraudulent purchase of $8.5 million in steel for a casino project." Jason Brett Merida, Executive Director of Construction, was found guilty on November 20, 2014 of six counts of a seven-count indictment.
The following year, Batton was elected as Chief in his own right in the general election on July 11, 2015, with 86.5% of the vote. He was sworn in as Chief of the Choctaw Nation on September 7, 2015 for a four-year term. The person occupying this office may be elected to an unlimited number of four-year terms. Batton filed to run for a second term in the 2019 election, where he was reelected as Chief of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.
- "Five Tribes break tradition, endorse Hofmeister for governor". The Norman Transcript. Retrieved 2022-10-19.
- "Executive Branch". Choctaw Nation. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
- "Trial exposes fraud against Choctaw Nation for gaming project". Indianz.com. 14 November 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
- "The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma General Election – OFFICIAL ELECTION RESULTS" (PDF). choctawnation.com. July 11, 2015. Retrieved 2017-05-05.
- "Public Notice - Prospective Candidates Filing for Elective Office" (PDF). Choctaw Nation Election Board. April 24, 2019. Retrieved 2019-05-20.
- "Meet the Chief - Elect Chief Gary Batton". www.chiefbatton.com.
- "Upset Citizens Asking Questions About Choctaw Nation Governance After Trial". KTEN. 21 November 2014. Retrieved 10 October 2019.