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Chief Phillip Martin

Chief Phillip MartinPhillip Martin (March 13, 1926 - Feb. 4, 2010) was the democratically elected Tribal Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw  Indians, a federally recognized American Indian tribe of 10,000 enrolled members living on reservation land in east central Mississippi. Martin has a 50 year record of service to the Tribal government, including more than 25 years as the Tribe's principal elected official. Martin served seven consecutive four-year terms as Tribal Chief before retiring in 2007.

Chief Martin is known for the counsel he has provided to non-Indian community leaders throughout east central Mississippi. His efforts to develop the reservation had an enormous spin-off effect on the economic development of the cities and towns in the region.  In December 1997, the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Chamber of Commerce named Chief Martin Man of the Year.
In September 2008 Chief Martin received the Eugene Crawford Memorial Peace Pipe Award given by the Americans for Indian Opportunity for lifetime achievement, particularly his dedication and contributions to Native America and ensuring future opportunity for Indigenous peoples. Nationally, Martin has served as president of the National Tribal Chairmen's Association, and the first president of United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. (USET), an association of the 26 federally recognized tribes in the eastern portion of the United States . He was the first president of the Board of Regents of Haskell Indian Junior College , between 1970 and 1976 (now Haskell Indian Nations University). In that period, Martin worked with other tribal leaders to acquire and maintain accreditation for Haskell, and to improve campus facilities, including construction of dormitories, a cafeteria, resource center, and field house. In 1992, Martin founded the United South and Eastern Tribes Gaming Association.

Chief Martin provided the leadership to create thousands of jobs on the reservation in tribally-owned factories and resort properties. The list of companies he partnered with includes Ford, General Motors, Westinghouse, Navistar, American Greetings and Boyd Gaming.

Chief Martinís greatest legacy may be the tribal scholarship program established in 1995 with revenues from tribal businesses which allows any tribal member to attend any college or university of their choice.  Currently, over 1,200 Choctaw students are enrolled in vocational and technical training programs and higher academic education programs on both part-time and full-time schedules, with more than 400 enrolled in full-time programs leading to a four-year college degree.

Chief Martin and his wife Bonnie were married in 1955. They have two daughters, Deborah and Patricia, and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

CHIEF: The Autobiography of Chief Phillip Martin
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Autobiography of Chief Phillip Martin, Longtime Tribal Leader, Mississippi  Band of Choctaw Indians more info