An apology from Waid Prather, the publisher of The Carthaginian, about an offensive headline in the newspaper's November 16, 2017, edition.

Newspaper apologizes to Mississippi Choctaws for 'derogatory' story on casino referendum

A newspaper publisher has apologized to the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and the tribe's citizens for an offensive headline.

The Carthaginian's November 16 front-page story about the tribe's casino referendum blared "Chocs go to polls today." Publisher Waid Prather took responsibility for using the "derogatory" term in the headline.

"I hope the members of the tribe who know me well and with whom I have worked will recognize I made an unintentional and unfortunate mistake, and will recognize it in no way reflects a lack of respect for them personally or for the tribe as a whole," Prather wrote in an apology on Friday.

The story came as tribal citizens went to the polls last Thursday to vote on the proposed Red Water Casino in Leake County. Official results posted on Friday showed that the project was rejected by an overwhelming margin. The turnout also met -- just barely -- the threshold required for a referendum to be considered valid under tribal law.

"There are no words to express our appreciation and gratitude for your support," a group called Chahta for Better Government, which opposed the casino, wrote on Facebook.

The offending headline in the November 16, 2017, edition of The Carthaginian, a newspaper in Mississippi.

Chief Phyliss J. Anderson supported the casino, arguing it would create more jobs and generate more revenue for the tribe. But she accepted defeat in a statement sent to the local media. She also addressed the headline controversy.

"Moving forward, it is my hope that we create a healthier discussion and higher awareness about our culture and people," Anderson said in a statement posted on Facebook. She said the paper employed a "derogatory tone and word" in the headline.

The tribe's flagship gaming facility is the Pearl River Resort, which consists of two separate casinos. It's about 30 miles from the proposed Red Water site.

The tribe also operates the Bok Homa Casino in a satellite community about 100 miles away. Plans called for Red Water to be about the same size as that facility.

Read More on the Story:
Newspaper headline offensive to Choctaws (Mississippi News Now November 17, 2017)

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