Alabama-Coushatta Tribe mourns loss of history-making female chief

Mikko Istimatokla, Millie Thompson Williams

Millie Thompson Williams, the second chief of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas and the first woman ever to be elected as a chief for the Tribe, has died. She was 67.

Williams, known within the Tribe as the Mikko Istimatokla, had served only eight months as second chief. Williams, along with Mikko Kanicu Donnis Battise (principal chief), was inaugurated in a sacred ceremony on Jan. 1, 2023.

Williams was a member of the Bear Clan. She held an associates degree in child and family development from Angelina College, and worked as the health and mental health manager for the Alabama-Coushatta Tribal Head Start program.

A member of Indian Village Assembly of God Church, she taught Adult Sunday School in her native Alabama language.

During a luncheon held in May 2023 in recognition of International Women’s Day, an event hosted by the Greater Cleveland Chamber of Commerce, Williams was an honored guest and spoke about her ascension into tribal leadership and how she wanted to be a leader for future generations of women.

“Never did I think I would be a second-chief. I want to help my people. I want the younger generation of girls coming up to know that they can be what they want to be … I want to encourage them to live up to the standards of living the right way. We, as ladies, need to encourage them and let them know we support them,” Williams said.

The funeral service for Williams will be held at 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation Multi-Events Center in Livingston. Interment will follow at the Alabama-Coushatta Reservation Cemetery. Visitation will be held on Monday, Aug. 28, starting at 6 p.m., at Cochran Funeral Home, 406 Yaupon, Livingston.

About the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas’ chiefs

While the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe also is governed by a Tribal Council, Chiefs are charged with upholding the customs, traditions and heritage of the Tribe. There are 11 clans that make up the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas.

In the Tribe’s history, only 16 chiefs have served: Long King, Colita, Ben-Ash, Tempe, Long Tom, John Scott, John Walker, Charles Martin Thompson, Bronson Cooper Sylestine, Kina Robert Fulton Battise, Colabe Atokla Emmett Battise, Oscola Clayton Marion Sylestine, Colabe III Clem Fain Sylestine, Skalaaba Herbert Johnson Sr., Donnis Battise and Millie Thompson Williams.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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