Opinion: The fall of Mississippi Choctaw Chief Martin

"Battles over issues of blood quantum, federal recognition, cultural & language retention, historical alliances and of course gaming, have caused lines of division not unlike those faced by communities across Indian Country. The architect of many of these divisions, Mississippi Choctaw Chief Phillip Martin watched his meteoric rise and pronouncement as an economic powerhouse crumble in recent days due to his close association with non-Indian lobbyists, politicians and anthropologists who reeked havoc on neighboring Choctaw communities by overturning federal recognition petitions and postponing land in to trust applications.

So last Friday, on the day he conceded victory to his challenger Beasley Denson, we watched the opening rounds of the annual stickball tournament across the street from the tribal complex and office where he led his tribe for 7 terms. While standing there, numerous community members approached me with outstretched hands and words of greetings and thanks in our Choctaw language. Many people in the Mississippi Choctaw & MOWA Choctaw communities, as well as numerous Indian people from various tribes across the nation, had spent a great deal of time over the past few years, advocating for the rights of the Mississippi Choctaw people and exposing the fraud committed against the MOWA Choctaw community 120 miles to the southeast who were thought to be possible competition in the gaming industry. For years, the same tactics were played against the now federally recognized Jena Band of Choctaw Indians in Louisiana. Twelve years after their federal recognition, they are just now being able to take land into trust for the purposes of economically and socially growing their community.

While Jack Abramoff, J. Steven Griles and a host of others associated with Chief Phillip Martin’s administration are now serving jail terms or awaiting trial, Mr. Martin has been able to use the tribe’s federal immunities to ward off investigations into his role in the matter. Of course, little of this matters now as power has been rested from his hands."

Get the Story:
Cedric Sunray: Will The Choctaw Nation Please Stand Up (The Native American Times 7/26)

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

Related Stories:
New Mississippi Choctaw chief takes office (7/10)
Mississippi Choctaw Chief Martin concedes election (7/6)
Mississippi Choctaw Chief Martin loses election (7/5)
Choctaw chief boosts campaign with outside consultants (7/2)
Opinion: Mississippi Choctaws at historic juncture (6/25)
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)
Advertisement
Tags
Trending in News
More Headlines