Phillip Martin, the former longtime chief of the Choctaw Indians in Mississippi has died in a Jackson hospital. He suffered a massive stroke Monday. He was 83 years old.
Martin served 32 years as chief of the Choctaws. His tenure ended in 2007 when he was defeated in an election by Miko Beasley Denson.
He is credited with vastly improving the economic standing of his tribe by bringing businesses to the 30,000 acre reservation in Neshoba County including a $750 million dollar resort with two casinos on tribal land.
He also brought many other businesses ranging from wiring harness factories to plastic molding enterprises. The Choctaws are also in the printing, direct mail and construction businesses.
Martin also built the world class Dancing Rabbit Golf Course and Hilton Hotels has a Hilton Garden Inn adjacent to it.
WLBT News interviewed Chief Martin many times over the years.
"This is an economic development venture, where jobs can be created. There will be over 900 jobs that will be available. We ought to be able to do 60 to 100 million dollars a year here" Martin said in a 1993 interview.
Martin had 40 plus year record of service to the Choctaw tribe, which saw their lot improve dramatically with a complete infrastructure built on tribal lands, along with many new homes and businesses to serve the day to day needs of the tribe.
Martin seem to be in good health as recently as the day before he was hospitalized. Earl Jackson, who operates the Edinburg One Stop in Leake County, said Martin has visited his business at mid day Monday.
"He spoke good, bought a couple of drinks a couple of packs of nabs and a paper" said Jackson.
Martin leaves a legacy of having the Choctaws make more than they had ever had in their lives, along with businesses from wiring harnesses to plastic molding. That legacy includes a 28 story hotel with 500 rooms and a casino.
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