Miccosukee Tribe Chairman Colley Billie won re-election as head of the tribe Sunday, according to Houston Cypress, a producer for film, television and video for the tribe. Billie beat his predecessor Billy Cypress, who had returned to run for the top spot again.
Houston Cypress said that just under 300 members turned out to vote in elections that are held every four years for five positions. Officially, the tribe has 598 members, many too young to vote.
Asked what issues the new administration will face, Houston Cypress said, "I think it's just an ongoing matter of asserting, of maintaining, and protecting our sovereignty. Whether it's environmental protection or cultural preservation -- sovereignty is the foundation for our work. That's true for tribes across Native American cultures. Once that foundation is in place, we can focus on language, education, land and water issues -- but sovereignty is always the basis. There are a lot of threats from it."
For instance, "in the Everglades," Cypress said, the U.S. government has " a responsibility to maintain its promises to us -- that often gets overlooked, whether its the Miccosukees' view at the science table, or the Tamiami Trail bridging -- laws were changed to get that project going."
Cypress noted that the current council will serve until the end of the year; a new council will be inaugurated at the beginning of the year.
Here are the election winners:
Chairman -- (incumbent) Collie Billie Assistant Chairman -- Roy Cypress Jr. Secretary -- Gabriel Osceola Treasurer -- (incumbent) Lucky Jerry Cypress Lawmaker -- (incumbent) William McKinley Osceola the Fourth
The IRS is currently battling the tribe, claiming it owes millions in back taxes generated by money from the Miccosukee Casino. Last week, Colley Billie was refusing to turn over documents related to Billy Cypress's income, and a U.S. judge was threatening him with fines.