Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Chickasaw use gaming and other revenues to provide services in rural context

An NPR story a few days ago about the Chickasaw nation had a rural angle, though it went unexpressed. According to the report of Arun Rath, the Chickasaw nation, which is spread over a 13-county non-metropolitan swath of south central Oklahoma, is thriving. The nation is flourishing in part from gambling revenues; in particular, it benefits from having the closest casino to the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. Under the leadership of governor Bill Anoatubby, the Chickasaw have taken their gaming profits and diversified into other enterprises, including a radio station, banks, and the production of high-end chocolates.

Here's an excerpt from the report about how the Chickasaw are using gambling and other revenue to provide for their citizens:

With such deep pockets, the governor has been able to pursue an ambitious domestic agenda. Every member of the tribe has access to extended education benefits and scholarships. For working parents, there is free child care, and even a care center for mildly ill children.

And Anoatubby has been able to achieve something President Obama can currently only dream of — universal health care.

* * *

The Chickasaw Nation is actually adding new health care services. To address high rates of diabetes among the native population, for example, a state of the art comprehensive care facility was recently established.

One remarkable thing about the efforts of the Chickasaw in pursuing this domestic agenda is the sort of rural challenges they face in serving citizens who are spread across such a vast area. These challenges include spatial ones, and presumably also difficulties achieving economies of scale. The report doesn't acknowledge these, however. It describes a marvelous new health care facility and a $147 million hospital under construction, but it doesn't address how people get there given the dearth of public transportation in rural places. Perhaps the Chickasaw are addressing that challenge, too, but Rath's report did not.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Chickasaws have addressed the transportation issue.