DURANT, Okla. – A long-time Oklahoma tribal leader is stepping down.
On Monday during his 65th birthday celebration, Choctaw Nation Principal Chief Gregory Pyle announced his resignation, effective April 28. Since taking office in 1997, Pyle ran unopposed for re-election in 2003, 2007 and 2011. Prior to his tenure as principal chief, Pyle was assistant chief for 13 years and served in different appointed capacities within the tribe dating back to 1975.
“I have enjoyed working with the council and staff on the many tribal projects and programs,” he said. “My future is going to be exciting in a whole new way! My wife, Pat and I have plans that include traveling and spoiling our grandchildren, spending many years building memories during our retirement.”
As per the terms of the tribe’s constitution and election code, Gary Batton, the tribe’s assistant principal chief, will automatically become chief for the remaining 16 months of Pyle’s four-year term. The office of principal chief will next be up for election in summer 2015 with the winner scheduled to be sworn in on Sept. 7, 2015.
A former director of the Choctaw Nation’s health department and deputy director of its housing authority, Batton was appointed assistant chief in 2007 after working for the tribe for almost 20 years. He and his wife live in Clayton, Okla.
Headquartered in Durant, Okla., the Choctaw Nation has 223,279 enrolled citizens, with less than half living within the tribe’s 13-county jurisdictional area in southeastern Oklahoma.