The chief (“Ogima” in Algonquin) was not elected, but rather he inherited the title from his father. In the case where a man had no son, the title was transferred to his first son in-law.
It is also important to note that the chief was in fact more of a spokesperson than a decision maker. Indeed, the decision process was very democratic because every member, men and women, had the freedom to express themselves. The final decision was taken by consensus. In addition, the Chief’s authority was mainly moral in the sense that the members of the clan were not necessarily required to follow his will. The Chief had to be persuasive and a great speaker so that his choices and authority would be respected and he could to lead the clan or nation.