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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 21, 2004 - Issue 107


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Martin to be inducted into MCC Hall of Fame

by special to The Meridan (MS) Star
credits: photo: Chief Phillip Martin

Chief Phillip MartinMeridian Community College will honor one of its most famous alumni Thursday when Chief Phillip Martin is inducted into MCC's Highest Flying Eagle Hall of Fame.

Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians since 1979, Martin was a student studying business at MCC in 1967. He will become the fifth individual inducted into MCC's Hall of Fame since its inception three years ago.

"It's going to be an exciting day at MCC," said MCC President Scott Elliott. "Chief Martin has been one of the most extraordinarily successful economic developers in the history of our state. His association with MCC is something of which everyone at our college is very proud."

Martin's induction will highlight MCC's annual alumni reception at which members of the school's homecoming court will be introduced and 30-year employees will be recognized. The reception will begin at 5 p.m. in the Dulaney Room at the rear of Webb Hall. The public is invited to attend.

The annual homecoming basketball games against Gulf Coast Community College will immediately follow at the Ivy Sports Center. MCC's homecoming queen will be crowned during halftime of the men's game.

"Chief Martin is an unparalleled success story," Elliott said. "Under his leadership, the Tribe has become an international conglomerate, headquartered in East Central Mississippi and directly employing 9,000 individuals. Chief Martin's astute leadership has positively impacted untold lives."

According to the Mississippi Business Journal, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is the third-largest employer in Mississippi. Tribal enterprises earn more than $500 million annually. Last year alone, net revenues for the Choctaw Resort Development Enterprise increased by $50.1 million.

"Now, that's what you call economic development," Elliott said. "At a time when the national and state economies have suffered, the CRDE showed a $50 million-plus increase. There's obviously somebody very smart steering the ship, and that somebody is Chief Phillip Martin."

The longtime Choctaw leader has been an ardent proponent of education. Martin was the first chairman of the Board of Regents of Haskell Indian Nations University. Moreover, he has created an extensive scholarship program for tribal students, enabling countless young people to attend colleges who might not have otherwise gotten the opportunity.

"I enjoyed my days at Meridian Community College," Martin said. "Through my association as a student at MCC I was exposed to new, diverse cultures. That foundation helped me when I went on from MCC to embark on my working career, and I have been blessed to be involved in a lot of exciting ventures over the years."

Among those ventures are the Golden Moon and Silver Star casinos, Geyser Falls Water Theme Park, Applied Geo Technologies, Choctaw Hospitality Institute, Choctaw Geo Imaging Enterprise, Chahta Enterprises, and First American Plastic Molding Enterprise.

In addition, Martin established Dancing Rabbit Golf Club, which has been ranked by Golf Digest as one of the Top 100 courses in America. He was also responsible for developing an 80-acre industrial park, and has started businesses in seven different U.S. states and Mexico. The Tribe's client list includes such recognized Fortune 500 Companies as McDonald's, Pepsi, NASA, and the Ford Motor Company.

While Martin is a strong advocate for education, he also believes there is no substitute for hard work.

"A college degree will open doors, but it will not guarantee success," Martin said. "It takes a lot of hard work and determination. When you get knocked down, you have to get back up and do it again."

President of the National Tribal Chairmen's Association, Martin has been the recipient of numerous honors in his career, including three Hammer Awards presented to him by Vice President Al Gore.

Past inductees into MCC's Hall of Fame are:

  • Dr. William F. "Bill" Scaggs, MCC President Emeritus and an icon among educational leaders in the state.
  • Tommy Dulaney, owner of Structural Steel Services and longtime Meridian civic leader.
  • Lou Weddington Hart, the most prolific female golfer in Mississippi history with six state amateur titles and six runner-up finishes to her credit.
  • Ronald R. "Ronnie" Miller, longtime MCC theater and speech instructor and one of the community's foremost leaders in the fine arts for the past 35 years.

The public is invited to attend all of the MCC homecoming activities.

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