Choctaw Nation named a 'Promise Zone' by Pres. Obama - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

Choctaw Nation named a 'Promise Zone' by Pres. Obama

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DURANT -- The Chief of the Choctaw Nation is back in Texoma after being invited to the Washington to meet with the President.

Chief Greg Pyle received a call from the White House on Wednesday letting him know the Choctaw Nation has now been designated a Promise Zone by the Obama administration.

"I was stunned," Chief Pyle said. "When you're asked to come to the White House it was honestly, overwhelming."

Thursday, Chief Pyle met with President Obama along with representatives from four other areas of the country chosen for the initiative.

"He actually sat down with the five recipients and had a conversation with us," Chief Pyle said. He then sat in the audience during an official announcement by the President and a presentation by dozens of inner-city children.

"They had gone through a similar program and had pulled themselves up. It was very encouraging to see these kids that had come from some very bad areas, and what they were going to become," Chief Pyle said.

The Promise Zone initiative is brand new. It targets communities with persistently high poverty rates.

Chief Pyle says the poverty rate is more than 30% in nine of the ten counties the Choctaw Nation is in. In one county, the poverty rate is 52.8%.

"It's kind of sugar and sour both. It's kind of like, hey, we were chosen, we appreciate it and they see us trying to help people," he said. "The other side is there's a huge amount of need that's still out there."

In addition to the Choctaw Nation, a rural area in southeast Kentucky, along with the cities of San Antonio, Philadelphia and Los Angeles have also received a Promise Zone designation.

Chief Pyle says goals through the initiative include providing more education and economic opportunities for the $200,000 Choctaws.

"The President and his secretaries have promised that red tape will be cut immensely," he said.

The overall idea is to bring together government, community and business resources with the hope that in the future, zip codes don't dictate destiny.

The Obama administration plans to designate a total of 20 Promise Zones during the rest of his time in office.