Chief Cyrus Ben of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians is one of eight other Mississippians tapped to help design a new flag for the state of Mississippi. 

Chief Ben was selected by Gov. Tate Reeves on Friday to serve as one of his three appointments to the nine-member state flag commission created by the legislature last month.

Mississippi legislators voted in late June to retire the last state flag in the U.S. with the rebel emblem. The change came after national protests over racial injustice sparked new debates about the public display of Confederate symbols.

Ben responded to his appointment: “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.”

The commission must design a new Mississippi flag that cannot include the Confederate emblem and must have the phrase, “In God We Trust.”

Commissioners were supposed to be appointed by July 15, but Reeves said he missed the deadline because he has been busy with response to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to Ben, the appointees Reeves announced Friday are Betsey Hamilton of New Albany and Frank Bordeaux of Gulfport.

Six commissioners appointed by the House speaker and the lieutenant governor held their first meeting last Wednesday. 

Speaker Gunn appointed Oxford Mayor Robyn Tannehill, Dr. Mary Graham, president of Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, and TJ Taylor of Madison. 

Hosemann appointed former Justice Reuben Anderson of Jackson, J. Mack Varner of Vicksburg, and Sherri Carr Bevis of Gulfport.

They are collecting flag proposals from the general public until early August and will set a design by early September.

The lone design will go on the Nov. 3 ballot. If a majority of voters say yes, that design will become the new flag. If voters reject it, the commission will draw a new design and that will go on the ballot later.

The commissioners and Mississippi Department of Archives and History staff plan to sort through the existing submissions in the coming days. They likely will weed out many that do not meet criteria including the "In God We Trust" language, or other basic flag design, or vexillology, standards. The commission plans to meet with a vexillology expert on Tuesday, with additional meetings to select a final design set for Aug. 19 and Sept. 2. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.