Ben Dwight 1929 - 1937
Ben H. Dwight was born near Mayhew, Indian Territory, November 24, 1890. He was the son of Simon Timothy Dwight, a full blood Choctaw, and Mary Jane Hunter. Ben’s father, Supervisor of Public Instruction for the Choctaws, instilled in his son the need for an education. Therefore, Ben became the best educated of any of the chiefs.
He attended Jones Academy, Armstrong Academy, Caddo Public Schools, and graduated with honors from Honey Grove, Texas High School in 1908. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University in 1913. His postgraduate work was at the University of Michigan and the University of Oklahoma. He completed his education at Leland Stanford University located at Palo Alto, California. He graduated with a Bachelor of Law Degree. His final act in his search for knowledge was to earn the coveted Doctor of Jurisprudence title.
Chief Dwight began his public career in Bryan County as an Attorney at Law. He also served as Durant City Attorney and Assistant District Attorney for Bryan County. He married Eileen Perkins, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Perkins, in Durant, Oklahoma, on December 29, 1916. During World War I, Ben volunteered his services to the United States Army. He was accepted and assigned to the Intelligence Department at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. When the war ended Dwight engaged in several endeavors. He was an automobile distributor, in the furniture business for a time and worked in the production department at a movie studio in Hollywood. He was into oil and gas exploration and marketing when he got the appointment as Chief.
Ben H. Dwight was the first Chief of the Choctaw Nation to be appointed by the President of the United States and elected by the Choctaw Tribe. During his tenure he represented the tribe in Washington, D. C. on many occasions. His two main concerns were to protect the property rights of his people and to ensure that the policies formulated in Congress would alleviate the social welfare problem of the Choctaws. After his term as Chief was over Dwight became an Attorney for the Choctaw Nation.
Another service he performed for his tribe was to become the publisher of the Tushkahoman, an Indian Newspaper. In 1942 he was selected as Administrative Assistant to Governor Robert S. Kerr. When Kerr was elected United States Senator Chief Dwight went to our Nation’s Capitol with Mr. Kerr remaining in Washington, D. C. until shortly before his death. Ben H. Dwight passed away July 18, 1953 in Oklahoma. He is buried in Memorial Cemetery, Oklahoma City. His picture hangs in the Oklahoma Hall of Fame Gallery at the Historical Building in Oklahoma City.