Opinion: Mississippi Choctaws at historic juncture

"As the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians approaches what promises to be a historic election of its chief, it brings to mind the history of the Choctaw generally regarded as the greatest of his tribe - Pushmataha.

By 1800, his skill as a warrior and a negotiator had made him an almost mythic figure among Choctaws and Americans alike. He earned the friendship of Gen. Andrew Jackson when he led the Choctaws against the Creek Indians in Alabama after the Fort Mims massacre in 1813.

Is it accurate to mention current Choctaw Chief Phillip Martin's name with those of Pushmataha and former Chief Emmett York, linked by over a century of incredible struggle and unimaginable progress? Without a doubt, yes.

Can Martin's current challenger Beasley Denson rise to that level? Obviously many Choctaws believe he can. Choctaw voters will decide on July 3 in the runoff election.

But Mississippi Choctaws have survived only through stubborn persistence and strong leadership. Those who believe the Choctaw to be led by a ceremonial figure should learn the stories of Pushmataha, York and Martin - chiefs who pushed toward "self-determination" while pushing back against the federal government."

Get the Story:
Sid Salter: Choctaws at historic juncture as runoff near (The Jackson Clarion-Ledger 6/24)

Relevant Links:
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians - http://www.choctaw.org

Related Stories:
Choctaw chief strikes out at leading opponent (6/21)
Run-off set for Mississippi Choctaw chief (6/14)
Mississippi Choctaw chief trailing in early count (6/13)
Mississippi Choctaw voters headed to polls (6/12)
Mississippi Choctaw Chief Martin seeks 8th term (1/31)
Mississippi Choctaws open culinary arts school (10/12)
Abramoff lobbied White House on behalf of tribes (10/02)
Mississippi Choctaw funds helped Alabama governor (08/15)
Republican lawmaker falls to Abramoff scandal (08/08)
Tribal lobbying spending falls in wake of Abramoff (08/07)
Mississippi Choctaws kick off 57th annual fair (07/13)
Editorial: Investigate Choctaws and $13M in Alabama (07/03)
Mississippi Choctaws deny $13M spent in Alabama (06/30)
Mississippi Choctaws, MSU team up to offer classes (06/29)
Abramoff boasted of Choctaw's $13M in Alabama (06/28)
Choctaws used Ralph Reed to fight gaming efforts (6/26)
Abramoff won't lead to reforms from McCain's committee (6/23)
Choctaws were first to donate to 'Family' group (03/27)
Mississippi Choctaws reach out to high-tech industry (02/02)
Mississippi Band teams up with college to offer degree (5/10)
Mississippi Choctaws to hold technology conference (04/28)
Mississippi Choctaws enter into medical tech deal (03/17)
FEC ruling clears tribal political donations (3/14)
Mississippi Choctaws opening manufacturing plant (02/24)
Mississippi Choctaws launch advertising campaign (2/15)