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First Female Choctaw Chief Takes Over

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Oct 2011 05:06pm | comments
Chief Anderson

The newest chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is taking over a tribe that is facing a host of problems. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that some Choctaw tribe members are expressing hope for the first female chief.

Thousands gathered at the tribal reservation in Neshoba County to celebrate the inauguration of Phyliss Anderson as the new tribal chief.

A parade, drums, Singing, and dancing welcome the first female Choctaw Chief....but so does a number of troubles facing the tribe.

Anderson won two contentious run-off elections, the tribe's casino is under investigation by the FBI, and 200-million dollars in bonds were recently downgraded to junk status.

During her inauguration speech, Anderson acknowledged the struggles facing the tribe and calls for unity.

"For we shall come together as we  meet the major challenges that we face in our tribe today and in the future. As chief of the people, I ask for your full support. Whether you voted for me or not, I ask for your prayers. So we can move forward in these uncertain times," Anderson said.

Many of the Choctaw tribe members at the festival say they are happy that Anderson is taking the reins.

Standing in near the parade with her three daughters, Cynthia Bell says she trust Anderson to improve the direction the tribe.

"I think she is going to do better than what we have had in the best. I am just hoping for a better future for our tribe," Bell said.

Paula Covarrubias thinks the multiple election wins prove the tribe is ready for new leadership.

"You have to get everybody to unite inorder to get a person that is going to be leadership quality. And I guess her going through the election these three times, that proves that we were ready for a change," Covarrubias said.

Anderson got 56 percent of the vote but Harold Stoliby says he is worried that she will have a hard time winning over disaffected members of the tribe who did not vote for her.

"I hope so. (reporter: You hope so but do you think so?). I am not sure...but I hope so," Stoliby said.

The theme of yesterday's inauguration was "our moment in History"...but for Anderson and the rest of the tribe the bigger question could be about their future.



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