They celebrated with prayers and by singing to the beat of a drum and when they finished the Mashantucket Pequots had a new tribal chairman, Michael J. Thomas.
It was Thomas who beat out two other candidates to succeed Kenneth Reels, who stepped down after four years as head of tribal matters including the running of one of the most successful casinos in the world, Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.
Thomas, 34, was tribal treasurer during Reels’ reign, so he was no stranger to tribal members. His biggest challenge came from Skip Hayward, the former tribal chairman who has held the post of vice-chairman in recent years.
One of the goals expressed by Thomas was to establish unity within the tribe. "We can no longer afford to allow disagreements within our community or between our community and other communities, to cripple progress and allow opportunity to pass us by," he said.
Separating the two candidates for the top job were there philosophies: Thomas emphasized greater concern for the welfare of tribal members while Hayward felt the tribe needed to expand its horizons with new developments.
Also being expressed by some members of the tribe was a greater involvement by tribal members into the operation of Foxwoods that has been run by gambling professionals who developed their expertise in gaming meccas such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.