old Mississippi flag

JACKSON, Miss. — Chief Cyrus Ben of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians will be part of a nine-member flag commission that will determine the design of a new state flag that does not contain the Confederate battle emblem.

Chief Cyrus BenChief Cyrus BenIn late June, the Mississippi state legislature passed legislation to retire the state flag because of its Confederacy emblem. Mississippi was the last state in the United States to still contain the divisive emblem. The momentum to retire what many call a symbol of racism intensified after the death of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police on Memorial Day. The bill was signed into law by Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves.

On Friday, Reeves appointed Chief Ben, who is currently serving his first term, to the Mississippi Flag Commission. Ben is the only American Indian on the nine-member commission. Friday’s announcement only included the names of three commission members that represent Mississippi’s Department of Archives and History, Economic Council and Arts Commission. Ben will represent the Economic Council on the commission.

"I am grateful to represent the first people of the state of Mississippi on the recently formed Mississippi Flag Commission, and I thank Governor Tate Reeves and the Mississippi Economic Council for the opportunity to serve. I look forward to working with the Commission to honor our history and represent our state proudly on behalf of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians,” Chief Ben said.

According to a press release from the Mississippi’s Governor’s Office, “Chief Ben is guided in his leadership and service to the Choctaw people by five key initiatives: respect of others, fairness and equality to all, accountability in all areas, efficiency in practices in addition to the support and appreciation of all employees and tribal members.”

The Flag Commission is charged with designing a new flag that cannot include any reference to the Confederacy and must contain the words “In God We Trust” on it. A design rendering must be done in time for Mississippi citizens to vote on it during the 2020 general election on Nov. 3, 2020.

Ben is the fifth elected chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He was sworn in as chief on July 9, 2019. At 41, he was the youngest chief ever elected to office for Mississippi’s only federally recognized tribe. 

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians have more than 11,000 tribal citizens. The tribal lands encompass about 35,000 acres in ten different counties and the tribe is one of the largest employers in the state, with more than 5,000 permanent and full-time jobs. 

More Stories Like This

Native News Weekly (October 1, 2023): D.C. Briefs
Geoffrey Blackwell Named NCAI's General Council and Chief of Staff
Assemblymember James C. Ramos Remembers Sen. Feinstein's Commitment to Sacred Sites
Federal Shutdown Averted Through a Stopgap Bill
Orange Shirt Day Observed on Friday on the Grounds of Closed Tomah Indian Industrial School

Stand with us in championing Indigenous journalism that makes a difference. Your support matters.

Support our Indigenous-led newsroom as we shed light on critical issues, such as the painful history of Indian Boarding Schools. To date, we've published nearly 200 stories dedicated to this important topic, providing insights and awareness to a global audience. Our news is freely accessible to all, but its production demands resources. That's why we're reaching out to you this month for your generous contribution.

For those who commit to a recurring donation of $12 per month or more, or make a one-time donation of $150 or greater, we're excited to offer you a copy of our upcoming Indian Boarding School publication. Additionally, you will be added to our Founder's Circle. Together, we can ensure that these vital stories continue to be told, shared, and remembered.

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].