Campaign signs for Melissa Darden.
Law | Politics

Chitimacha Tribe replaces embattled ex-chairman with first female leader

The Chitimacha Tribe has a new leader.

Melissa Darden is the first woman elected as chairman of the tribe. She was sworn into office on Tuesday.

“I will effectively integrate tribal efforts, balance priorities, and ensure the best possible application of resources to ensure the continued success of our people,” Darden, who will serve a two-year term, said in a press release posted by KADN.

Darden succeeds Joseph O’Neil Darden Jr., who ran for the chair's post again despite being indicted in Louisiana state court. He was accused of stealing from the tribe but offered a detailed defense on his campaign website.

"The site is dedicated to informing you the tribal membership about the senseless and tragic situation that has plagued me and my family, the families of fellow tribal members and you the general membership for the last year," Darden wrote, a reference to his arrest in June 2016.

Darden was scheduled to go to trial on May 1, according to his site, but no further updates have been provided. A search of court records in St. Mary's Parish, where he had been indicted, did not turn up any recent documents.

Read More on the Story:
Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana’s first elected female chairman takes oath of office (KADN 8/1)

Related Stories:
Ex-casino manager for Chitimacha Tribe admits giving bonus to chairman (October 5, 2016)
Chairman of Chitimacha Tribe accused of stealing casino bonus (June 20, 2016)

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