Editorial: Mississippi Choctaws head to the polls

"For the first time in almost three decades, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Chief Phillip Martin faces a competitive challenge in his re-election bid as leader of the state's largest Native American tribe.

The run-off election for chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will be conducted tomorrow in the reservation's eight communities.

Six candidates ran for chief in the June 12 primary election. The top two candidates were former vice chief Beasley Denson and Martin. Denson, 57, had a small lead but neither candidate got at least a majority, making the run-off necessary.

Denson's showing in the primary indicates that many Choctaws have concerns about the Abramoff issue, about claims of secrecy in tribal affairs and economic policies, about fiscal management and about the decision to try to move the tribe's gaming interests to the Gulf Coast.

Martin has claimed that the current Gulf Coast casino industry is backing Denson's campaign in an effort to control Choctaw gaming expansion. The Denson-Martin race has become a heated political contest.

Tomorrow, Mississippi Choctaws will decide who will lead them for the next four years. While Choctaw politics has its own nuances, the notion that all politics are local holds true on the reservation, as well.

The economic impact of the tribe is such that tomorrow's election will be watched from Washington to Jackson down to tribal communities like Standing Pine, Red Water, Tucker and Pearl River.

Clearly, this is the first major election in the state this summer."

Get the Story:
Editorial: Choctaw election: Tribe faces historic choice (The Jackson Clarion-Ledger 7/2)

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

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