On Friday, May 7 Speaker Charles McCall visited the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma's drone testing facility located in rural southeastern Oklahoma for a presentation regarding the Nation's commitment to growing economic opportunities and emerging technologies within its territorial boundaries.
James Grimsley, Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives, gave an update on the Nation's continued commitment to its aerospace initiative, the BEYOND program. The program focuses on operating under established rules rather than waivers, collecting data to develop performance-based standards, collecting and addressing community feedback and understanding societal and community benefits that are the advanced operations of drones.
Among the Speaker were esteemed Atoka representatives, NASA personnel, Chickasaw Nation Representatives, private investors, and Choctaw Nation associates.
In 2018, the Choctaw Nation made history by becoming the first and only tribal government to be selected by the U.S. Department of Transportation to participate in the Drone Integration Pilot Program (IPP). The Choctaw Nation was selected as part of a group of lead participants consisting of tribal, state and local governments to focus on safely accelerating the integration of drones into our national airspace system. This was historic for the Choctaw Nation because prior to the IPP, tribal governments had not been eligible to participate in many technology-related federal government-sponsored pilot programs. The Choctaw Nation is also the first tribal government to be recognized by the FAA as a public aircraft operator or "PAO".
In 2020, the Choctaw Nation was invited to continue its collaborative relationship with the FAA as part of the FAA BEYOND program, which is focused on advancing drone operations beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), as well as cargo delivery by drone.
The Choctaw Nation is the third-largest Indian Nation in the United States with more than 200,000 tribal members and 10,000-plus associates. This ancient people has an oral tradition dating back over 13,000 years. The first tribe over the Trail of Tears, its historic reservation boundaries are in the southeast corner of Oklahoma, covering 10,923 square miles. The Choctaw Nation's vision, "Living out the Chahta Spirit of faith, family and culture," is evident as it continues to focus on providing opportunities for growth and prosperity. For more information about the Choctaw Nation, its culture, heritage and traditions, please go to www.choctawnation.com.