Another Reflection on Chief Phillip Martin

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

There are many ways people describe Chief Phillip Martin in regards to him as a leader and simply as a human being.

"Very prominent, very powerful, very personable individual who made ya laugh, but who also was very seriousness about the business of his people and making this area prosperous," remembers Philadelphia Mayor James Young.

His accomplishments as Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians are countless. James Young, the Mayor of Philadelphia, considers Martin's accomplishments not just countless, but also admirable.

"I think of progressive innovator. One who has taken the rural area and did some things that people didn't think could be done in this part of the state," says Mayor Young.

Philadelphia is a neighboring city of the reservation. As mayor of the city, Young has seen Martin's work throughout the reservation spread beyond its boundaries.

"The industry, the casinos, the thousands of people that were employed by his vision and his hard work fed a lot of people in this county and city."

And it's Martin's hard work that stands out for so many. Cyrus Ben is a Pearl River Tribal Council Representative. Through the eyes of a young tribal member, he says Martin's dedication is what led him to accomplishing so -called impossible goals.

"I believe he was a very determined guy. When he set goals, he worked hard and did whatever it took to obtain those goals," remembers Representative Ben.

Those goals go back many years. Chief Martin led years of economic development within the tribe and is credited for much of the economic success that followed. Representative Ben took note of the changes that have been made over time throughout the reservation.

"Just watching the steps of thirty years of progress that was made. I think it's hard to sum up in a few words, but he goes back into the founding fathers of Native America such as Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Chief Red Cloud, Geronimo, and then the likes of presidential leadership of JFK."

Like Representative Ben and so many others would say, Chief Martin was a man rich in history.

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