Chief-Elect Anderson Addresses Media

By: Nick Adam Email
By: Nick Adam Email

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has a new chief-elect.

For the second time in as many months, Phyliss Anderson has been elected to the office of chief.

The first time, the results were thrown out over voting discrepancies. But a new election produced the same results.
In fact, this time the vote margin was wider for Anderson.

She inherits a job that has been mired in controversy for months. There have been questions about finances, an FBI investigation, as well as the election controversy.

But Anderson says she's up to the task, and is ready to being serving her people.

As of Wednesday afternoon, chief-elect Phyliss Anderson said she had yet to hear from incumbent Beasley Denson, but she says she does not expect any controversy over the results of this election.

But there are still controversial issues for Anderson to start tackling.

"The most important thing I have to do is to make sure that we are financially sound as a tribe," Anderson said.

Some of the tribe's bonds were downgraded to junk status this summer, and the FBI probe on the Pearl River Resort continues, though Anderson says she still does not know what the federal government was seeking.

"I do not know why they were here, but as I have said, for the sake of the tribe I hope there was no wrongdoing to be found," said Anderson. "But if there is any wrongdoing, then the tribe needs to know."

Anderson went as far as to suggest that there could be some sweeping personnel changes at the resort following her inauguration. She was asked if she would fire the company currently running the casinos.

"I'm going to work with the board of directors and we are going to see what is in the best interest of the tribe," said the chief-elect. "That is what we're looking for, and if that's what it takes, then, yes, that is what is going to happen."

The race between Anderson and Denson caused some division between tribal members.

Denson could not be reached Wednesday, but Anderson supporters say they think the tribe can start moving forward together.

"We are all ready to get started to move together and help one another the way it was supposed to be," said Rhonda Bell, an Anderson supporter.

Anderson says that one of the biggest changes in her administration will be making the Choctaw government more transparent. That process will officially begin when she is sworn in Oct. 11, becoming the first female Choctaw chief.

Anderson has 25 years of experience with the Choctaw tribal government, including serving two terms on the tribal council, representing the Red Water community. During her time on the council, she served on numerous committees, including secretary-treasurer for the council.

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