Interview: Chief Gary Batton of Choctaw Nation shares struggles

Gary Batton. Photo from Facebook

In the second part of an interview with The Durant Democrat, Chief Gary Batton of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma shares some of the challenges he overcame as a young tribal member:
When I’m growing up, I’d say we had the perfect family.You know, Mom and Dad, both hard working and things like that. I had an older sister, brother, Brenda,Fred, Joe and then me, I was the youngest.

And everything was just good and when I was 13, I think it was, or 14, they ended up divorcing.

So, we ended up, at that time my brother Fred, and Brenda had moved out of the home so it left my Dad and Joe and me.

Where was this?

Actually, we were living in Wichita, Kansas at the time. Believe it or not, my Mom has her original allotment of land. That’s Grandmothe’sr original allotment of land.

That’s where we grew up. So, my Dad, he was non-Indian, he was in the military, from West Virginia. He was at Ft. Sill and met my Mom, who used to go out there and pick cotton.

So anyway, my Dad, my brother and I moved back to Clayton, to, home if you will.

Then he was working for law enforcement and he had a car accident that paralyzed him from the chest down.

At that point in time, of course, my Mom was still struggling the divorce and was just trying to make her way.

So that left me and my brother living together. He was 18 and dropped out of school at that time.

He actually committed suicide. And always, I struggle with, Joe was the roughest, toughest one out of all of us. You know I would have never thought life would have taken him down.

But yet, he was an emotional person but he was one.

He and I, we got along, but he would fight at the drop of a hat. Later, he’d try to hug on me.

I just thought, I’m not over this yet. Stay away from me a little bit, and give me at least a day to get over it.

That happened and from that point on, I was 14. I went and lived with a cousin for a period of time. I went to live with the Holts for a period of time. Actually my wife and I started dating. I lived with Jeff and Pam.

I lived with Skippers for a period of time. I actually lived on my own when I was 14.

I just kinda bounced around.

Get the Story:
Chief Batton speaks again (The Durant Democrat 6/14)

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