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July 10, 2007

Miko Beasley Denson takes over Choctaws

New chief says change on the horizon for tribe

One of the major issues Beasley Denson campaigned on during his successful bid to unseat former Chief Phillip Martin was how he would change the face of the Choctaw tribe in Mississippi. Those were words that excited many who supported him.

“The times, they are changing,” said Steven Dennis as he left the Silver Star Convention Center Tuesday afternoon after attending Denson’s inauguration ceremony. “The Choctaw people are ready for a change. We’re excited about this.”

Denson officially became chief, miko, of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) during the hour-long ceremony that included speeches and Native American dance. The convention hall, filled with more than 1,500 supporters and friends, were on hand to show their support as Denson took the stage.

The Honorable Henderson Williams swore in Denson who was flanked by his wife, Lena. After that formality, Denson reiterated many of the promises he made to the Choctaw people as he ran against Martin who for 28 years had led the MBCI to unprecedented success.

Calling Martin a warrior, Denson called for tribal unity and recognized Martin for his leadership and years of service adding, “I am grateful to be a part of the new generation of leaders in Indian Country. The outside world is watching us. Indian Country watches us. We must all work together to make our Tribe even stronger, even better, and even more successful.”

Among the top priorities Denson has set for himself is the advancement of jobs for Choctaws, housing for families, education opportunities for Choctaw children and business opportunities for Choctaws and from other outside businesses.

The MBCI, with an enrolled membership of 9,660, is the only federally recognized tribe in the State of Mississippi. The Tribe provides a range of government services for its members including schools, a hospital, medical clinics, police and fire protection, courts, an elderly care center and many others.

Dr. Ken York, the ceremonies welcoming speaker, said the MBCI is entering a new era.

“With a great deal of hope from our people, I think we will be able to accomplish many good things,” said York.

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