7/17/2013 11:28:00 PM Pratt sworn is as Iowa Tribe Chairman
The Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma recently held an installation ceremony for several new officers. Pictured left to right are: Lisa Washington, grievance committee member; Lisa Switch, treasurer; Calvin Rowe, Sr., grievance committee member and Gary Pratt, tribal chairman.
Journal photo by Van Mitchell
By Van Mitchell Journal Staff Writer
Gary Pratt retired from AT&T and returned home spending the past five years working with the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma when he felt the calling to do something different.
That calling was running for chairman of the Iowa Tribe. He was elected from a group of nine candidates on June 1 and sworn in July 11.
Pratt replaces vice-chairman Bobby Walkup who had previously taken over for former chairman Janice Kurak. He will serve a twoyear term on the tribe's five-member business committee.
"I have had an inspiration given to me to go lead my people and that is an inspiration that I have followed," Pratt said. "I firmly believe that was a purpose presented to me. I believe I am doing what I am supposed to be doing. I was filled with pride to be given the honor to serve as chairman of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma."
Pratt worked for AT&T for 32 years before retiring six years ago. He worked with the Iowa Tribe's realty department for one year and spent the last three years as recreation leader for the tribe's recreation department where he oversaw the wellness center, sport complex and providing various programs for tribal members and employees.
Pratt also served as a commissioner on the tribe's gaming commission.
"I have served on the gaming commission as a commissioner for almost five years," Pratt said. "I take a great deal of pride in the accomplishments that have occurred by our gaming commission and staff and look forward to our future in gaming in Indian Country."
Pratt said he believes his business background will help him become a better chairman.
"What I bring to the table is leadership," Pratt said. "I have a very good understanding of the commitment and dedication involved in serving as chairman."
Pratt said he is excited about the future of the Iowa Tribe which includes the opening of the new Ioway Casino near Chandler and the expansion of the Cimarron Casino in Perkins.
"I am very optimistic about the future of the tribe," Pratt said. "We have some very exciting opportunities ahead of us. We are building on to our Cimarron Casino and will be completed in October. We opened our new Ioway Casino near Chandler June 1.
Pratt said the new casino and the Cimarron expansion will add a number of new jobs to the area.
"It is going to mean additional jobs out there," he said. "We rely on people out here to fill those positions. It will have an impact on Perkins and Chandler as well as Payne and Lincoln counties as far as employment go."
Pratt said he is ready to hit the ground running to help make the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma the best it can be.
"I look forward to it," he said. "It is a challenge and it is a fact that my life is going to change. It is my passion and it is my purpose. It will all be good."