Chief Philip Martin

Born in 1926, Phillip Martin was elected chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians in 1979. He would serve seven consecutive four-year terms under the Choctaw democratic constitution. Martin transformed the prospects of Mississippi’s Choctaws from extensive poverty to economic self-sufficiency through extensive business development, creating jobs for thousands of people living on the reservation as well as throughout east-central Mississippi. Profits from the businesses were reinvested in education, housing, and health care for the Choctaw people, reducing their reliance on federal government support. In 1994, Chief Martin led in the establishment of the first tribal gaming operations, with casino, hotel, golf course, and resort properties in Philadelphia. Martin has been widely recognized for his leadership, especially in education and economic development, and served as president of both the National Tribal Chairmen’s Association and the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc., an association of the 23 federally-recognized tribes in the eastern United States. Martin was succeeded as Choctaw chief in 2007 by Beasley Denson.

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