Tunica-Biloxi Veterans Memorial Survey

Greetings Tribal Families,

The Tribe is quite excited to announce the Museum Project Uplift for 2022-23.  It is a positive indication that we are ready to place the last three years of the pandemic in our rearview mirror for good, as we look to the future and moving the tribe forward.  The facelift will include:

·       Updates to the “Memorial Wall” and “Tribal Council Wall” exhibits. 

·       Two new exhibits, featuring “Our Tribal Base Roll” and the “Native American Warrior Wall” will create a beacon of light.  The exhibits recognized those that were instrumental in gaining federal recognition, as well as honoring our native warriors for their unwavering service, as exemplary members and representatives for Indian Country and to all Americans. 

We are aiming for an early 2023 unveiling.  The new exhibits will add an innovative touch and a much-needed improvement, with an emphasis on our Native American culture, leaders and our people.  The museum gift shop is scheduling to open simultaneously and will feature a new online store option.

We are asking our families to help us identify our military warriors, by completing the attached form and submit by November 28th.  List name, military branch, whether active, retired, or deceased, and the time served.  The names and information will appear under the appropriate branch.  For any questions, please email Elder Council Chairwoman, Joanie Arteta, at jarteta@tunica.org.

Many thanks,

Elders Council and Museum Committee

Take the Survey

USDA Takes Steps to Support Food Sovereignty with the Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

WASHINGTON, Nov. 10, 2022 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced it has signed a cooperative agreement with the Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana under the Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program (LFPA). Through LFPA, the tribe seeks to purchase and distribute locally grown, produced, and processed food from underserved producers.

“USDA is excited to partner with the Tunica Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana to promote economic opportunities for farmers and producers and to increase access to locally sourced, fresh, healthy, and nutritious food in underserved communities,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “The Local Food Purchase Cooperative Agreement Program will improve food and agricultural supply-chain resiliency and increase local food consumption around the country.”

Through the LFPA funds, the tribe will work with tribal government units such as the Social Services Department, Education Department, Health Department, Housing Department, the Tribal Criminal Justice system, and collaborate with state and local agencies to identify underserved farmers and food producers to procure from and distribute the purchased foods to tribal families facing food insecurities.

“Our local farmers and ranchers are proud nutrition providers and critical to our local economy,” said Chairman Marshall Pierite. “We are blessed to announce this government-to-government agreement between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to provide quality local food to those who need it.  Our goal is to bring food sovereignty to those who suffer from food insecurity.”

USDA’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program provides up to $900 million through non-competitive cooperative agreements to enable state, territory, and tribal governments to support local, regional and underserved producers, and maintain or improve food and agricultural supply chain resiliency through the purchase of food produced within the state or within 400 miles of delivery destination. Funding for the program comes from the American Rescue Plan and the Commodity Credit Corporation.

AMS looks forward to continuing to sign agreements under this innovative program that allows state and tribal governments to procure and distribute local and regional foods and beverages that are healthy, nutritious, and unique to their geographic area.

More information about the program is available on AMS’s Local Food Purchase Assistance Cooperative Agreement Program webpage.

Chairman Discusses Historic Land Swap

Chairman Marshall Pierite discussed the historic land swap of the Historic Marksville Park on Indian Country Today. Pierite discussed the Tribe’s plans for the 42 acres of land the Tribe recently regained ownership of and the value of their ancestral lands.

Regaining ownership of the park allows Tunica-Biloxi tribal citizens to reconnect with their roots and celebrate culture on the same land their ancestors inhabited.

The journey to obtain this land spans decades, and Chairman Pierite expresses his gratitude that years of hard work finally paid off.

Check out the whole interview here.

Traditional Weaver Shares her Story

Tunica-Biloxi tribal citizen and traditional weaver, Elizabeth Pierite Mora, was interviewed by Karl Lengal on WWNO 89.9 to discuss this year’s Basketry Summit. Pierite Mora highlighted the cultural significance of basket weaving and gave further insight into the traditional tribal craft, including how Tunica-Biloxi basket weaving differs from other tribal weaving.

Listeners learned that baskets from the Tunica-Biloxi tribe are traditionally made from long-leaf pine needles. Although other tribes might use similar materials for basket weaving, tribal basketry is distinguishable by style and technique.

Mora encouraged the public to join the Tunica-Biloxi basket weaving summit to learn through hands-on practice. Tunica-Biloxi encourages indigenous people, youth and the local community to learn about cultural awareness and appreciation. The summit will include a beginner’s class to long-leaf pine needle weaving for those who are just beginning their journey in the craft.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to Host Special, Free Screening

Marksville, Louisiana, October 25, 2022 – On April 26, the state of Israel will be celebrating its 75th birthday. As a leadup to the anniversary, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe will sponsor a free screening of Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin on November 1 at Paragon Cinema in Marksville, Louisiana. Organized by David Sickey of Sickey Global Strategies, an advisor on issues affecting Native Americans, Upheaval tells the story of Menachem Begin, the sixth prime minister of Israel and one of the country’s founders, as well as the history of the nascent nation.

In 2008, when Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its birth as a modern nation-state, David

Sickey took note, moved by the young nation’s story of struggle and hard-won independence. Then vice chairman of the Sovereign Nation of Coushatta of Louisiana, one of four federally recognized Native American tribes in Louisiana, Sickey extended a hand to Israel. “The idea came to me how can we come together and celebrate independence, sovereignty, self-determination and a shared spirit of endurance,” said Sickey, who later rose to the chairmanship of the Coushatta, an office he held until last year.

Later that year, in an affirmation ceremony on tribal grounds in Elton, La., he pledged friendship to Israel on behalf of the Coushattas, the first Native American tribe to so honor the young nation. Sickey saw the parallels, he said, in the experiences of Native Americans and those of the Jews who found refuge in Israel under British rule and who later fought for statehood, turning the ancient home of their people into an independent and thriving nation. Like the Israelis, “we have managed to preserve our identity and the language of our ancestors despite challenges and external influences,” he said. “Even though we might not be Jewish or Israeli, we understand what they’ve been through, and we wanted to send a message that we are here to support them.”

Upheaval includes Begin’s meeting in Jerusalem in 1977 with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and, later, the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. A turning point for the Jewish state, the treaty was an act of unprecedented courage at a time when Israel was surrounded by countries that wished only for its demise. It was in acts like this, Sickey said, that he found inspiration, calling Begin’s courage and determination a role model for humanity. “He helped create a nation out of wilderness and paved the way for Israel’s founding.”

And soon, on November 1, another outgrowth of the Coushatta-Israel friendship will take shape

at Paragon Cinema at the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe’s Paragon Casino Resort. When thinking about where to host the screening, Sickey turned to the leadership of the of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, a generous partner that shares its resources and goodwill across the state of Louisiana. “Part of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe’s mission is to educate others on our rich history and the trials we’ve faced on our journey,” Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr., Vice Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort said. “When the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and Paragon Casino Resort are able to assist in telling the stories of others, it is a win for everyone.”

Upheaval doesn’t gloss over the contradictions in Begin’s character or whitewash the controversies that surrounded him, but the message of the film is one of courage, leadership and the lasting impact Begin had on a controversial piece of land less than 20% the size of Louisiana. The screening is being held on November 1 at 7:00 pm at Paragon Cinema in Marksville, Louisiana. Admission is free of charge; registration is required. To register, visit: https://bit.ly/3yt7tyK.

Secretarial Election FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions Relating to the Upcoming Secretarial Election

Why is this upcoming election being called? 

The upcoming election is a Secretarial Election that is being called for the purpose of amending Article V, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The election was requested by the Tribal Council.

What is a Secretarial Election?

A Secretarial Election is a Federal election conducted by the Secretary of Interior under a Federal statute or tribal governing document, such as the Constitution of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana.  See 25 CFR § 81.4.

Why is the Department of the Interior running the election?

Article XVII, Section 1 of the Constitution of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana states:

This Constitution may be amended by a majority of the enrolled, qualified voters of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, voting in an election authorized for that purpose by the Secretary of the Interior or his authorized representative, provided that at least thirty percent (30%) of those entitled to vote shall cast ballots in such election. No amendment shall become effective until it is approved by the Secretary of the Interior. Such election shall be conducted pursuant to the Secretary’s regulations.

Accordingly, in order to amend the Constitution, an election authorized by the Secretary of Interior and conducted pursuant to the Secretary’s regulations must take place.

How is the Secretarial Election being funded?

Secretarial Elections are Federal elections and are federally funded.  See 25 C.F.R. § 81.16(a).

What happens if the constitutional amendment is approved? 

If a majority of enrolled, qualified voters vote to adopt the proposed constitutional amendment, the Secretary will approve the amendment within forty-five days after the Secretarial Election, at which point the amended language will take effect.  See 25 U.S.C. § 5123(d).

What happens if the constitutional amendment is denied? 

The current language in Article V, Section 2, of the Constitution of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will remain unchanged.

Will members of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana be disenrolled if the constitutional amendment is adopted or denied?  

The Council has not taken a position on that question as they must wait for the outcome of the Secretarial Election to evaluate all available options in the best interest of the tribe.

How will votes be counted?

The Secretarial Election will be carried out by the Secretarial Election Board, composed of a Bureau of Indian Affairs employee and, at least, two tribal members.  See 25 C.F.R. § 81.19(c).  Secretarial Elections are conducted entirely by mailout ballots.  See 25 C.F.R. § 81.35.  All enrolled, qualified voters will receive a packet containing registration instructions and relevant information regarding the Secretarial Election.  See 25 C.F.R § 81.23, 81.35.  Eligible voters must register for the Secretarial Election in order to be able to vote.  See 25 C.F.R. § 81.27.  All registered voters will then receive a mailout ballot, which will need to be sent and received by the deadline established by the Board.  After the deadline, the ballots will be counted under the supervision of the Board, both to determine the results of the vote and to determine whether total voter turnout was sufficient to meet the required 30% standard specified under the Constitution and Federal law.  See 25 C.F.R. § 81.38.  The Board must then certify the results with all members of the Board present.  See 25 C.F.R. § 81.41.

Please feel free to contact a member of the Secretarial Election Committee if you have additional

questions.

Sincerely,

Secretarial Election Committee

Robert Johnson Sr.                                                                  

(318) 308-6593                                                                         

avorxj@paragoncasinoresort.com       

Elyse Lopez

(318) 500-1783

elopez@tunica.org

Tony Pierite                                                                              

(318) 481-3390                                                                         

avotpp@paragoncasinoresort.com

Patrick Lopez

(773) 242-0635

plopez358@gmail.com

Babette Bordelon                                                                    

(318) 240-0946                                                                         

bbordelon@tunica.org 

Richella Malveaux

(318) 359-1373

rmalveaux@mobiloansllc.com

An Update on HR 4913

Tunica-Biloxi Applauds the Introduction of HR 4913 by Congresswoman Julia Letlow (R-Louisiana)

The Tribal Council of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana wishes to thank Congresswoman Iulia Letlow for introducing HR 4913 on behalf of the Tribe. HR 4913 is also sponsored by Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee (D-Texas). HR 4913 would expand the service area of the Tribe to include Harris and Brazoria Counties in Texas to enable to the Tribe to be able to use its purchase/referred care funds from the Indian Health Service to be able to help to provide healthcare to the Tribe’s citizens living in the Houston, Texas area. It is vital that the Tribe be able to do this during a global pandemic. Chairman Marshall Pierite said “Tunica-Biloxi has worked tirelessly to forge strong relationships with members of Congress and the introduction of this legislation shows that our hard work has paid off. Myself and the Tribal Council are dedicated to seeing this legislation pass and are excited to be able to help our citizens in Texas be able to access the healthcare that they need.” The Tribal Council looks forward to a hearing being held for HR 4913 and being able to participate for the passage of this legislation.

The Tribal Council remains dedicated to working to provide access to healthcare to all Tribal members both on and off the reservation.

Paragon Casino Resort and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana sponsor 2021 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics Louisiana

Paragon Casino Resort and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana sponsored the 2021 Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics last week. The Tunica-Biloxi police department escorted Tyler Couvillion on his way to Covington, LA for this year’s games. Tyler even took a break at Paragon Casino Resort. Congrats to Tyler and this year’s athletes!

Read more here.

Chairman Marshall Pierite Greets President Biden

Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite welcomed President Joe Biden on his visit to Louisiana on May 6th. Chairman and President Biden discussed the future of southern Louisiana and its rural and native communities. Both the Chairman and President Biden were optimistic about the outlook and the continued investment in these areas.