FOCUS: #MSWelfare Scandal • Jackson WaterAbortion2022 Elections • Race & Racism • PolicingIncarceration • UM Emails • JFP Acquisition

Choctaw Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben Positive for COVID-19

Chief Cyrus Ben - Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians - Mississippi Free Press
Choctaw Chief Cyrus Ben announced Saturday, April 18, on Facebook that he is positive for COVID-19. Photo courtesy Cyrus Ben via Facebook.
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Chief Cyrus Ben announces on April 18 he has COVID-19.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Tribal Chief Cyrus Ben just announced in an emotional video on Facebook that he tested positive for the coronavirus and is now in quarantine at home. He is not showing symptoms, yet, he said.

Ben, the fifth democratically elected chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and a lifelong resident of Neshoba County, took office on June 9, 2019.

The chief used the video to call for vigilance on the part of tribal members to take the COVID-19 risk seriously and to stay inside and follow all precautions. He wants tribal members to take control of their own safety, he said.

“Every one of you is at risk. Do not think you’re immune,” Cyrus told the Choctaw community.

“Yet I sit here today exposed and now, unfortunately, a positive case.” He called on every person to “please do your part” and stay home.

Chief Ben speaks in Choctaw in the second half of the Facebook video.

Ben and his wife, TaRita, and their children Brodie, Eden and Selah live in the Pearl River community of Neshoba County.

The tribe released additional safety precautions on its Facebook page Friday. Also yesterday, the same day that Gov.  Tate Reeves started easing some shelter-in-place restrictions, the chief wrote a letter to tribal government heads asking them to revisit employees deemed critical to “determine if any additional employees could be relieved of their duties.

Due to COVID-19, the tribe closed its casinos weeks ago and already faces restrictions on sacred traditions such as funeral and wakes, including shared meals.

Comments

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

 The Mississippi Free Press is nonprofit, solutions journalism for Mississippians and others who care about the state. 

Our newsroom runs on donations from people who care about Mississippi and this reporting. We thank you for reading and ask for your financial support.

Click the Support button below or at the very top of the site. Your donation will be made through the Community Foundation for Mississippi, our fiscal agent. Thank you!

Can you support the Mississippi Free Press?

 The Mississippi Free Press is nonprofit, solutions-driven journalism for Mississippians and others who care about the state. 

With your help, we can do even more important stories like this one.