Mikko Skalaaba — better known as Herbert “Chief” Johnson to the Jacksonville College family — was honored on Saturday (homecoming) as JC's Distinguished Alumnus for 2020.
The celebration was highlighted by Jacksonville mayor Randy Gorham, who was on hand at the Curtis Carroll Fieldhouse to read a special proclamation which made Saturday “Chief Herbert Johnson Day” in Jacksonville and to present Johnson with honorary street signs, made in the JC colors of purple and white.
Although Johnson has affectionately been called “Chief” for decades in Jaguar Country, this was his first time back to JC actually being a bona fide principal chief of the 1,500-member Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, whose home region is located just outside of Livingston.
After serving 26 years as the tribe's Second Chief, Johnson was elected First Chief on Jan. 1, 2020.
“I had been retired for about a year and when an opening came up for chief a (tribe) member asked me if I would be interested in it and I said that, yes I would,” Johnson told the crowd on Saturday.
Johnson has long been a JC basketball legend.
Standing only 5'-6”, although he, laughing, said that he was still 5'-7” on Saturday, Johnson earned All-American status in 1963 when he set the then all-time national record of pumping in 67 points in a single game. He went on to average 33.5 points a game for the season in an era that did not feature a 3-point shot.
Johnson, with many of his family members in attendance to share his special day, received a standing ovation and a loud round of applause from the large crowd.