Chief Ben named Citizen of the Year

Chief Ben named Citizen of the Year


Chief Cyrus Ben compared the community to the Tribe’s ornate woven baskets as he was named Citizen of the Year at the Community Development Partnership’s annual banquet Monday night.

“Many baskets are made, many sizes, many colors and designs,” he said. “That’s like us in the community as business leaders, business owners, employees and educators. You could have picked any of those baskets to be the best but it’s us, it’s a community…working together to make this little town in central Mississippi on red clay hills as great as it is.”

The CDP held its first banquet since the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined the event in 2020 and 2021.

Ben, who is serving his first term as Tribal Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indian, was emotional throughout his speech Monday night as he praised the community for perseverance in trying times. 

“In life, challenges will continue,” he said after mentioning overcoming COVID as a community. “The ultimate goal is for the betterment of this community and each and every one of us are citizens of this community. I’m very humbled, honored and blessed.”

Ben was introduced by his wife, TaRita, who gave a glimpse into the man, her husband, who has done everything from coach kids on the ball fields to running a sovereign nation, she said. 

“I know some of you may know Cyrus Ben in many different capacities,” she said. “Some as a coach, a small business owner, entrepreneur, volunteer, friend or as Chief. But to me, he is my husband and my partner for the past almost 20 years.  

“I have witnessed first-hand the selflessness that he puts into his day-to-day activities and decision making,” she continued. “Whether it be for the Tribe and its organizations, on the ball field coaching kids, volunteering his time with various organizations or even within our family, he is there to do whatever is best for everyone.”

She explained that his values came from his parents. 

“The values of being a good citizen, not just of the Tribe, but our community, our county, our state and our nation, were instilled in him long ago by the hard work he witnessed at home by his mom and dad, Karen and Jimmy Ben,” TaRita Ben said. “He continues the installation of these values within our children to this day.”

The Chief went on to give credit to the others in the room for their part in making the best for the community. 

“It’s you, it’s the community that makes Philadelphia and Neshoba County great,” he said. “There are many communities out there that would love to have what we have here. There’s always room for improvement. We ought to be very faithful for this community.

He added, “Each and every one of us sitting here tonight writes history daily and I’m very grateful I can be a part of such a community that can write history that generations to come can enjoy,” he continued.”

Ben is the fifth democratically-elected Chief of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. He was sworn into office on July 9, 2019. 

In 2020, he was appointed to serve on the Mississippi Flag Commission, which later recommended the current flag that features a fold five-point star to reflect the state’s indigenous tribes.

On Monday night, the CDP presented The Neshoba County Fair with the Large Business of the Year Award. The Clothesline was presented with the Small Business of the Year Award. 

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