- Associated Press - Friday, July 11, 2014

EBARB, La. (AP) - For the first time in six years, the Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb will have someone other than Chief Johnny Procell as its leader.

The Times reports (https://bit.ly/1q3ss3J ) elections for the chief and other tribal leadership positions take place on a three-year cycle. But Procell’s name is not on the ballot because he stepped down in February due to health problems.

Jason Rivers was tapped as interim chief. He and tribal council member Tom Rivers are in the running for the chief’s title.

Elections in a Native American tribe are similar to any other government body. Candidates announced their intentions. Ballots were prepared and mailed. And now those eligible members who are officially enrolled with the tribe are filling out ballots and returning them by mail or in person.

Over 3,900 ballots have been mailed. Ballots are due Aug. 1 in the office or postmarked by the same date if returned by mail.

Sabine Parish elections commissioners will count the ballots Aug. 9 at the tribal office and announce the winner.

Campaigning between the two chief candidates is amicable, carried out mostly through word of mouth, Facebook postings and signs dotting the community. Both are in agreement that moving the tribe forward and ramping up efforts to gain federal recognition are at the top of their list.

“It’s a major hurdle for us but it will help a lot. It would open the door for funding, economic development for the tribe and the community. It would not only help Ebarb and Zwolle but Sabine Parish and the entire state,” Jake Rivers said. “I’ve always said I don’t care about having a casino, but I would like for some type of industry to provide for some type of jobs for our people. I also would like to initiate programs for our elderly and children. Without our children, that’s the future, and without our elderly, we don’t know what went on before us.”

Tom Rivers has witnessed the tribe become more active in the past six years under Procell’s leadership, but particularly the last three years, in pushing for federal status.

“I want to keep that going. I want to get more tribal involvement within our own tribe; to get renewed interest,” said Tom Rivers, who last year spearheaded the committee that developed the tribe’s new pow wow grounds. The 12 acres leased from the Sabine River Authority allows the tribe to return to its roots from the former swampy river bottom began in the 1700s.


Information from: The Times, https://www.shreveporttimes.com

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