Choctaws name new assistant chief 6-2-07

DURANT, Okla. (AP) - The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has named a new assistant chief after the tribe's former person in that position suddenly resigned.

Mike Bailey, 48, had worked for the tribe the last 23 years - the last 10 as assistant chief - before resigning Friday. His letter of resignation did not give any reasons why he made the decision to step down, tribal spokeswoman Judy Allen said.

Choctaw Chief Greg Pyle appointed Gary Batton to fill the vacancy, and tribal council members unanimously approved the appointment Friday. Batton has worked for the Durant-based tribe since 1987.

“Gary Batton is a young man of impeccable morals and ethics,” Pyle said. “He is one of the finest and brightest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I am sure that this is the best choice for the Choctaw Nation.”

During his time with the tribe, Batton has served as deputy director of the Choctaw Housing Authority and executive director of the Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority.

Barton also is a board member for the Clayton Public Schools, the Sunday school superintendent for First Baptist Church in Clayton and a member of the Eastern Oklahoma State College Foundation.

“It is an extreme honor to serve on behalf of the Chief and the Choctaw people,” Batton said. “I am very optimistic about the future of the Choctaw Nation.”

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma has about 200,000 members.