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In Numbers 7, we are told about the special offerings the princes of the Tribes brought to the Tabernacle. This is not the only time we hear of this position. Princes are present in Joshua 9 also, for example.

How were princes of the tribes chosen? Was it hereditary or an election process. This answer suggests it might have been put to a consensus of some sort.

Please source you answers!

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The first set seemed to be the ones who were the taskmasters who took beatings in Egypt in order to protect the people.

This site discusses the Rashi which cites the medrash to this effect.

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