Tunica-Biloxi Tribe Distributes PPE to Tribal Elders Across the Country

Donation was made possible with the help of Procter & Gamble’s Alexandria Plant, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and FEMA

(L-R) Kevin Fuqua (P&G), Brandon Vanderberg (P&G), Tunica-Biloxi Council Member Harold Pierite, Vice Chairman Marshall R. Sampson Sr., Council Member Bobby Pierite, 7 Generation Youth Council Vice Chairman Marshall R. Sampson Jr. and P&G Staff Member Mike Wehrle convene at the Tunica-Biloxi Police Headquarters for P&G staff to donate protective masks to the Tribe.

Recently, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana was able to donate protective face masks to Tribal elders across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This distribution was made possible thanks to the support of Procter & Gamble’s Alexandria Plant, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and FEMA.

“We’re so appreciative of these entities for this donation and for their continued partnership and support of the Tribe,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. “Due to shortages across the country, many of our Tribal elders do not have access to supplies that will keep them safe. We’re grateful to be able to ease this burden for our Tribal elders thanks to their generosity.”

As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Native Americans, like other minority groups and those in lower-income communities, are among those most impacted by this virus. For this reason, Native American tribes have a responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens. These donations have allowed Tunica-Biloxi to go above and beyond in protecting their most vulnerable members.

“This project means a lot for so many families in our community,” said Tunica-Biloxi Council Member Jeremy Zahn. “Let’s continue to protect our elders at all costs who carry the stories of our sacred history and culture.”

In particular, the Tribe has a long-standing partnership with Proctor & Gamble’s Alexandria Plant. This is just one of the many ways that Tunica-Biloxi and P&G have worked together over the years. In addition to P&G employees assisting at Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wows in the past, members of the Tunica-Biloxi Language and Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) have visited P&G’s Alexandria plant and educated staff on Native American culture through Diversity and Inclusion Workshops.

“The partnership between the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and the P&G NAI Team is remarkable,” said Brandon Vanderberg, P&G employee and leader of the Alexandria Plant’s Native American Network. “We are grateful for what they bring to our community which is why it was our honor to be able to assist them during the pandemic. We hope to continue building this relationship for many years to come.”

For other updates on Tunica-Biloxi and COVID-19, click here.

Paragon Casino Resort Reopens Following Temporary Closure Due to COVID-19

Paragon Casino Resort has officially reopened its doors today, May 20, 2020, following a temporary closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Paragon opened to the public-at-large at noon today. Paragon Casino Resort joins a number of businesses re-opening in Louisiana following Governor John Bel Edwards’ announcement lifting the stay-at-home mandate on May 15. Paragon officials carefully evaluated the recommendations from the statewide Phase 1 plan and developed a comprehensive health and sanitation plan that prioritizes both guest and associate safety.

“This has been a difficult time for our associates, our patrons and the community as a whole,” said Paragon General Manager Jody Madigan. “We are excited to be opening our doors once again to our friends and guests and look forward to safely and strategically bringing our neighbors and community back to a sense of normalcy. We look forward to seeing you again at Paragon.”

Areas and facilities that were opened today include:

  • Gaming floor (slots and tables)
  • MarketPlace Buffet
  • Gator Coffee
  • Cinema
  • Retail spaces
  • Hotel and hotel lobby
  • Tamahka Trails Golf Course
  • RV Park

The remaining restaurants are not open but will come on-line as Paragon is able to open them. At this time, Kids Quest and the Cyber Quest Arcade will remain closed.

In an effort to keep all patrons and associates healthy, Paragon is limiting points of entry to allow the security team to conduct non-invasive temperature checks utilizing thermal cameras. Additionally, guests are advised to practice physical distancing by standing at least six feet away from groups of people not traveling with them.

“The health of our guests and associates is of the utmost importance,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, which owns Paragon Casino Resort. “This is why we’ve been working diligently and consulting with professionals from the best institutions throughout the country to create a comprehensive plan that entails extensive procedures and protocols to keep everyone safe.”

Protective protocols throughout the space have been put into action. Guests are asked to adhere to the physical distancing protocols on the gaming floor. Dining areas have reduced seating capacities to allow for a minimum of six feet between parties. Retail spaces also have limited occupancy.

Areas where guests or associates queue are clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing. Hand sanitizer dispensers have been placed in key areas and there are health and hygiene reminders throughout the property. Paragon has also installed sneeze guards where possible to protect both guests and associates. Associates are required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment throughout the property.

Cleaning regimens have substantially increased throughout the property utilizing cleaning products and protocols which meet EPA guidelines and are approved for use and effective against viruses, bacteria and other airborne and blood-borne pathogens. Paragon officials are working with vendors, distribution partners and suppliers to ensure an uninterrupted supply of these cleaning supplies and the necessary PPE so everyone on the property may remain safe at all times.

Paragon’s leaders have been on daily calls with various leaders in the industry and are well versed in the process of incremental reopening. Paragon Casino Resort is continuing to closely monitor government policy changes, Centers for Disease Control guidelines, governmental mandates and public health advancements. The Paragon leadership team, together with the leaders of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, will continue to make changes as necessary or appropriate to all protocols and procedures.

As community members, Paragon officials ask that guests be respectful of physical distancing from other parties when visiting the casino resort. A list of Frequently Asked Questions has been posted to the website and guests are encouraged to check it out for more information on protocols and procedures prior to their visit. Together, we can keep everyone safe and healthy while enjoying all that Paragon has to offer.

To learn more about the casino resort and to experience all that the Paragon has to offer, visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To book a stay at the Paragon Resort or learn more about its amenities, call (318) 253-1946 or 1-800-946-1946.

Paragon Casino Resort Announces Reopening Date of May 20th

Paragon Casino Resort has announced it will officially reopen its doors on May 20, 2020, following a temporary closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Paragon will be open to the public-at-large starting at noon on May 20th. Paragon Casino Resort joins a number of businesses re-opening in Louisiana following Governor John Bel Edwards’ announcement lifting the stay-at-home mandate on May 15. Paragon officials carefully evaluated the recommendations from the statewide Phase 1 plan and developed a comprehensive health and sanitation plan that prioritizes both guest and associate safety.

“This has been a difficult time for our associates, our patrons and the community as a whole,” said Paragon General Manager Jody Madigan. “We are excited to be opening our doors once again to our friends and guests and look forward to safely and strategically bringing our neighbors and community back to a sense of normalcy. We look forward to seeing you again at Paragon.”

Areas and facilities that will be open include:

  • gaming floor (slots and tables)
  • MarketPlace Buffet
  • Gator Coffee
  • cinema
  • retail spaces
  • hotel and hotel lobby
  • Tamahka Trails Golf Course
  • RV Park

Initially, the remaining restaurants will not be open but will come on-line as Paragon is able to open them. At this time, Kids Quest and the Cyber Quest Arcade will remain closed.

In an effort to keep all patrons and associates healthy, Paragon will limit points of entry to allow the security team to conduct non-invasive temperature checks utilizing thermal cameras. Additionally, guests will be advised to practice physical distancing by standing at least six feet away from groups of people not traveling with them.

“The health of our guests and associates is of the utmost importance,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, which owns Paragon Casino Resort. “This is why we’ve been working diligently and consulting with professionals from the best institutions throughout the country to create a comprehensive plan that entails extensive procedures and protocols to keep everyone safe.”

Protective protocols throughout the space are being put into action. Guests will be asked to adhere to the physical distancing protocols on the gaming floor. Dining areas will reduce seating capacities to allow for a minimum of six feet between parties. Retail spaces will be limited occupancy.

Areas where guests or associates queue will be clearly marked for appropriate physical distancing. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be placed in key areas and there will be health and hygiene reminders throughout the property. Paragon has also installed sneeze guards where possible to protect both guests and associates.  Associates will be required to wear appropriate personal protective equipment throughout the property.

Cleaning regimens will be substantially increased throughout the property utilizing cleaning products and protocols which meet EPA guidelines and are approved for use and effective against viruses, bacteria and other airborne and blood-borne pathogens. Paragon officials are working with vendors, distribution partners and suppliers to ensure an uninterrupted supply of these cleaning supplies and the necessary PPE so everyone on the property may remain safe at all times.

Paragon’s leaders have been on daily calls with various leaders in the industry and are well versed in the process of incremental reopening. Paragon Casino Resort is closely monitoring government policy changes, Centers for Disease Control guidelines, governmental mandates and public health advancements. The Paragon leadership team, together with the leaders of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, will continue to make changes as necessary or appropriate to all protocols and procedures.

As community members, Paragon officials ask that guests be respectful of physical distancing from other parties when visiting the casino resort. A list of Frequently Asked Questions has been posted to the website and guests are encouraged to check it out for more information on protocols and procedures prior to their visit. Together, we can keep everyone safe and healthy while enjoying all that Paragon has to offer.

To learn more about the casino resort and to experience all that the Paragon has to offer, visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. To book a stay at the Paragon Resort or learn more about its amenities, call (318) 253-1946 or 1-800-946-1946.

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to Distribute Sustaining Meals to Tribal Elders

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is shipping healthy meals to their most vulnerable in Louisiana, Texas, Illinois and across nation

MARSKVILLE, LA – (April 16, 2020) – Today, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and its members are proud to announce that tribal elders across the county will be receiving packages of healthy meals which will sustain them for the next 4-5 weeks during the COVID-19 pandemic. The shipments are designed to assure the Tribe’s elders remain safe and fed no matter where they are located. As the elder population is one of the most vulnerable to the virus, the Tribal Council felt it was important to facilitate an easy meal distribution to its citizens living away from the Tribe’s reservation, many of them without access to federal services or in areas under curfew which restrict their access to grocery stores nearby. 

“We must continue to do all that we can to support our elders and keep them healthy and safe,” said Tunica-Biloxi Vice Chairman Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr. “As a Tribe, we honor our elders in all that we do. They are our forbearers who have paved the way for our continued success as a people. I am grateful to the Tribal Council for working together with key staff members to make this feeding effort so effective so quickly.”

The 200+ meals are being sent out via FedEx as one-time shipments of 16 pre-packaged meals to all tribal elders in tribal areas in Marksville, LA; Chicago, IL; and Houston, TX. Additionally, some meals were also shipped to elder tribal members living as far as California, Michigan and Idaho as well as some additional areas throughout the nation. 

The meals, which have been prepared fresh and frozen, are friendly to those with diabetes and other health considerations. Each includes a starch, vegetable and a protein. Several meal options include Creole Blackened Chicken, Meatloaf, Chicken Piccata, BBQ Turkey Burgers, Farmhouse Pork Tenderloin, Bean Chili and breakfast options as well. 

“Many of our elders have been unable to leave their homes on the reservation and across the country. We must do everything we can to ensure that we are caring for those in need, no matter where they currently reside,” said Council Member Jeremy Zahn, who introduced the program due to the nationwide impact of COVID-19. “We are committed to continuing this program, and the Tribe urges each of our members to contact us for assistance as we weather this pandemic.”

The measure to fund the meal distribution was passed with a unanimous vote of approval from the Tribal Council on April 2. The Tribal Council is continuing to work with Nikki McDonald, Director of the American Indian Center of Houston, and Tunica-Biloxi families throughout the country to assess continuing needs for its members. 

“This is an important effort to keep our treasured Tribal elders safe and healthy,” said McDonald. “We are grateful and proud that we could get this program coordinated so quickly. It will have a huge impact in bettering the lives of our members in this trying time.” 

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About the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana: 

The Tunica-Biloxi people first appeared in the Mississippi Valley. In the late 1700s, they settled near Marksville, where they were skilled traders and entrepreneurs. Today, the Tribe has more than 1,200 members throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe received federal recognition in 1981 for its reservation within the boundaries of Louisiana. The tribe owns and operates the Paragon Casino Resort, the largest employer in Central Louisiana. Through its compact, negotiated by the late Tribal Chairman Earl J. Barbry Sr. and the State of Louisiana, the Tribe has assisted local governments in the area with its quarterly distribution of funds, totaling more than $40 million over two decades. For more information about the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, visit www.tunica.org and “like” us on Facebook

Three Elected to Serve on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and its members are proud to announce the re-election of Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr. as Vice-Chairman and Harold Pierite, Sr. as a council member, in addition to the election of James Craig, III as a council member.

“We’re excited to have all three of these men serving on our Tribal Council,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “I am confident that Marshall Ray and Harold will continue to serve the Tribe well, just as they have always done, and I am eager to see the fresh perspective James will bring to our council.”

Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr. has served on the Tribal Council as a Council Member-at-Large since the spring of 1997 and most recently, as Vice-Chairman. Over the years he has worked on budgeting, educational development, political development, community development and has experience in marketing, operations, budgeting, employee training, business development, community relations and expense control. Sampson has more than 23 years of experience in Tribal Government Operations, Gaming, Information Systems, Marketing and Hospitality Administration. He has also served on numerous community and pan-Native American boards on local and regional levels. An employee of the Paragon Casino since 1995, Sampson now holds the position of Assistant General Manager of Operations.

Harold Pierite, Sr. was also re-elected as a Council Member-at-Large. Pierite serves as board member of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and has been a member of the tribal council for more than 15 years. Currently serving as the chief of police for the Tunica-Biloxi Police Department for more than 20 years, Pierite also sits on the board of directors for Mobiloans, LLC. In 2017 and again in 2020, he was appointed to the Louisiana State Police Commission, representing the State’s 5th Congressional District.

James Craig, III, who is from Chicago, IL, is the newly elected council member. Before Craig was elected, he was a Relationship Manager at Bank of America, where he helped low income and high-income clients by educating them on day to day personal finances, established new relationships with high clientele and created business relationships with business owners. Craig holds the rank of Staff Sergeant in the Illinois National Guard. His Military Occupation Specialty is Interrogation Operations Sergeant, where he oversees a special team of soldiers that conducts interrogations for international matters. During his tenure with the military, he has deployed two times to Iraq and once to Afghanistan, leading soldiers at the front lines. He has previously worked for MB Financial, Fifth Third Bank and Harley Davidson.

Paragon Casino Resort Update

Tribal Members,

As you all know, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council declared a state of emergency on March 12, 2020 in response to the spread of COVID-19. Due to continued safety concerns, the Tribal Council has made the decision to temporarily close Paragon Casino Resort beginning at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 17.

While Paragon serves as an essential economic driver for Marksville, LA and the surrounding area, safety and health are top priorities for our community at large and our Tribe. We believe it is in the best interest of Paragon’s employees, patrons and Tribal members, to close Paragon facilities out of an abundance of caution.

Additionally, the Tunica-Biloxi reservation will remain open, but only essential Tribal employees will be working on the reservation. In the interim, we are still available to assist with any needs you and your family might have. We urge you to communicate with the Tribe and Tribal Council accordingly.

As mentioned in previous updates, the Tribal Council is continuing to coordinate with local, state and federal agencies including the Federal Center for Disease Control and the Louisiana Governor’s Office to address ongoing concerns, especially those of our Tunica-Biloxi families. To view our previous update on the Tribe’s response to COVID-19, click here.

For updates and announcements from the Tribe, please visit our website and official Facebook page. Additionally, for the latest information on COVID-19, visit the Louisiana Department of Health website and the Center for Disease Control website.

Sincerely,
Your Tribal Council

Coronavirus Update

March 12, 2020

Dear Tribal Members,

On March 12, 2020, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Tribal Council declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. Out of an abundance of caution, the general membership meeting scheduled for Saturday, March 14 has been officially postponed until further notice.

In an effort to prevent potential spread of the virus, a travel ban has also been issued for all employees of the Tribal Government. The Tribe is currently coordinating with local, state, and federal agencies including the Federal Center for Disease Control and the Louisiana Governor’s Office to address ongoing concerns of Tunica-Biloxi families. 

The Tribe encourages members to follow official updates from the Federal Center for Disease Control to prevent the spread of the virus, including, but not limited to: following strict handwashing procedures, performing routine environmental cleaning, and covering your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

Our priority is ensuring the health and well-being of our Tribal members. We also ask that you take a moment to check on all of our families, especially Tribal Elders and our most vulnerable. In the interim, please communicate with the Tribe and the Tribal Council if there is anything that may be needed.

For updates and announcements from the Tribe, please follow our official website and Facebook page. Additionally, for the latest information on COVID-19, visit the LDH website and the CDC website.

Sincerely,

Your Tribal Council

Three Tribal Members Receive Scholarships to Attend the 2020 Institute on Collaborative Language Research

Congratulations to Juston Broussard, Teyanna Pierite Simon, and Ryan Lopez for receiving scholarships to attend the 2020 Institute on Collaborative Language Research (CoLang 2020) at the University of Montana. The scholarships cover tuition, meals, housing and travel costs for the 2-week institute.

CoLang is an international institute for language activists, teachers, linguists and students from language communities and academia to obtain hands-on skills in language documentation and revitalization as practiced in collaborative contexts as well as in technology and basic linguistics in community-based research contexts. The Institute creates multi-dimensional networks among community language workers, teachers, researchers, and students. CoLang 2020 will be hosted by the University of Montana in collaboration with Chief Dull Knife College.

Third Annual New Orleans Center for the Gulf South Indigenous Symposium

For the third year, Tulane University will host the New Orleans Center for the Gulf South Indigenous Symposium. This year’s symposium is titled “Being Native Today: Indigenous Identities in the Gulf South” and will be held on March 20, 2020 at 8:30 am – 5:30 pm in the Kendall Cram Lecture Hall in the Lavin-Bernick Center on Tulane University’s Uptown Campus.

Through dialogues with different members of Tribal Nations, this symposium seeks to address the dynamic components of Indian identity and open a conversation about the variety of ways in which diverse Native peoples understand what it means to be Indigenous today.

For more information on the event visit: indigenoussymposium.tulane.edu

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana To Host Sixth Annual Stickball Clinic and Exhibition

The Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) will host its sixth Annual Stickball Clinic & Exhibition, for children ages 11-16, as a way of preserving the ancient sport of Stickball. The event will take place on Saturday, Feb. 8, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Chief Joseph A. Pierite Pow Wow Grounds on the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation in Marksville.

Visiting players from the Alabama-Coushatta Stickball team of Livingston, TX will lead a clinic on basic skills, rules and safety of the game. Afterwards, the Alabama-Coushatta team will play an exhibition game and then support workshop participants in scrimmage games. Participants will be grouped by size for the scrimmage games.

Participation in the workshop is open to the public for a $10 fee. Tunica-Biloxi tribal children may register free of charge. Participants must pre-register by Monday, Feb. 3. The public is also welcome to view the exhibition free of charge.

Following the event, LCRP will host a cookout for participants. Space is limited. Parent(s) must accompany children to the clinic.

To view the event on Facebook, visit – https://www.facebook.com/events/494725191163004/. Please contact Jessica Barbry at jabarbry@tunica.org or (318) 240-6469 to register.

Background

Native American stickball is considered to be one of the oldest team sports in North America. Stickball and lacrosse are similar to one another, the game of lacrosse being a tradition belonging to tribes of the Northern United States and Canada; stickball, on the other hand, continues in Oklahoma and parts of Southeastern U.S., where the game originated. Although the first recorded writing on the topic of stickball was not until the mid-17th century, there is evidence that the game had been developed and played hundreds of years before that.

Stickball was especially popular among Southeastern Indian tribes, including the Tunica-Biloxi. Stickball was played by tribal members regularly through the mid-20th century and gradually disappeared. Choctaw communities in Mississippi, Coushatta in Louisiana and the Alabama-Coushatta of Texas still have active stickball programs. Players and coaches from the Alabama-Coushatta community will lead a stickball clinic and exhibition on the Tunica-Biloxi reservation.

More than just a game, stickball builds body and spirit through exercise when played by all age groups—children, youth and adults. Many games have roots in ancestral tests of strength and sport that reinforced group cooperation and sharpened survival skills in often hostile environments. For warriors, the games helped maintain their readiness and combat skills between times of war. The gradual shift to a more sedentary lifestyle has highlighted the need to reawaken interest in physical activity, especially among Native youth. Promoting stickball could, once again, become an important part of improving the health and well-being of the Tunica-Biloxi people.

As the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe strives to preserve and revitalize traditional lifeways, it is necessary to provide community educational forums that will perpetuate knowledge and usage of these cultural elements. The Stickball Clinic & Exhibition provides an opportunity to explore traditions that are both unique and shared by neighboring indigenous communities.