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.

Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture in the Classroom at Tulane University

Saturday, January 25, 2020
9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture in the Classroom

This collaborative workshop is designed for middle to high school Social Studies educators to enhance the teaching of the Tunica community while highlighting this group as part of a series of ancient civilizations currently taught at the K-12 level. This workshop is the first one in the series aimed at increasing and extending the current teaching of ancient civilizations in the Americas. The local focus on Louisiana indigenous people and culture will enable educators to create deeper connections when teaching about indigenous identity across the Americas such as the Maya, the Aztec and the Inca.

This workshop will introduce participants with little or no prior knowledge to ancient Tunica history, art, and language, with special focus on the role of food and native foods of this region. Language Instructors Donna Pierite and Elisabeth Pierite Mora of the Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) will share the history of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe beginning in 1541 up to the 1700s when the tribes reached the Avoyelles Prairie. Through story, song and dance they will share the Tunica language and Tunica-Biloxi culture. They will highlight the cultural educational initiatives of LCRP, and provide a list of online resources and samples of pedagogical materials for attendees.

Sponsored by the Middle American Research Institute, S.S. NOLA, and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies.

For more information, visit: https://stonecenter.tulane.edu/articles/detail/3048/Tunica-Biloxi-Language-Culture-in-the-Classroom.

Louisiana Rural Economic (LaRuE) Development Summit

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is partnering with the Southern University Law Center (SULC) and the Southern University College of Business University Center for Economic Development to co-host the first Louisiana Rural and Economic (LaRuE) Development Summit. The goal of the summit is to connect rural communities with local, state and national leaders as well as Native American Country and improving life in rural areas by helping future generations develop an entrepreneurial mindset while providing them the tools to succeed.

At the summit, the following topics will be discussed by panels of three to five people:

•             Workforce Development

•             Community Development in Rural America

•             5G Expansion/Broadband Opportunities

•             Healthcare Access in Rural Communities

•             Innovation and Entrepreneurship

•             New Marketing Opportunities in Agriculture

•             Financial Services

•             Small Business Opportunities

•             Creating and Improving Economic and Business Relationships with Tribal Governments

•             Business Development Opportunities with LA Tribes

Location: Paragon Casino Resort 711 Paragon Place, Marksville, LA 71351

Dates: Sunday, July 7 – Tuesday, July 9

Tickets: Click here to register

The summit will feature Governor John Bel Edwards at a special breakfast on July 9th. Local and nationally-recognized scholars and community leaders will share their expertise on the summit topics.

Tribal Council Announces Open Meetings

In order to remain transparent and available to all members, the Tribal Council will now keep some council meetings open. Tribe members can watch the meetings online here or on Facebook through Facebook live.

The Tribal Council open meeting schedule will be as follows:
All meetings will be held on Thursdays at 4:30 p.m., except the meeting on May 18th, at the Council’s Chamber in the Cultural and Educational Resources Center (CERC) at 150 Melacon Road, Marksville, LA.

May 9th & 23rd
May 18th (Pow Wow Day) at 9:00 a.m.
June 9th & 20th
July 18th
August 1st, 15th & 29th
September 12th & 26th 
October 10th & 25th
November 14th & 28th
December 12th 

Robert Anderson Retires from Tunica-Biloxi Tribe After Almost 25 Years

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council and Tribal Gaming Commission would like everyone to join us in extending a deep appreciation for his service and acknowledgement on the retirement of Mr. Robert Anderson, Gaming Agent.  Mr. Anderson joined the Commission in May 1994, and has served the Commission and Tribe faithfully with a dedicated commitment to professionalism for almost 25 years.  He started his career with the Tribe as a Gaming Inspector, monitoring and regulating the daily affairs of the operation, at that time ‘Grand Casino Avoyelles’.  His commitment and professional approach to the effective regulation of the Tribe’s Gaming Operation earned him the recognition of his peers and colleagues alike.  As a result, the Commission determined that Mr. Anderson’s work ethic proved to be, and would be more useful to the Commission’s Investigative Division.  Subsequently, Mr. Anderson was promoted to the position of Gaming Agent, where he served in that capacity successfully until his retirement.

The Tribe and the Commission gratefully acknowledges his commitment, dedication and service; whereas, he provided for the effective regulation of tribal gaming with the highest level of honesty and integrity.  On February 25, 2019, Chairman Marshall Pierite, Vice-Chairman Marshall Ray Sampson, and Commissioners Rudy Wambsgans, Catherine Farbe and Bobby Pierite Sr, as well as, the entire Gaming Commission recognized him for his service, congratulated him, and extended our best and warmest wishes for his retirement.

Mr. Anderson will have plenty of time to create his wooden bowls now, and if anyone hasn’t seen his passion for this, needs to check out his Facebook page.  His work is beautiful and well worth obtaining one of the bowls.  We will miss him at the Commission and his “Good Morning’s”.  Thank you Robert and good luck in your future endeavors, it was a pleasure working with you.”

Thank you Robert!

Sincerely,

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and Tribal Gaming Commission

Tunica-Biloxi Education Program Hosts Community Emergency Response Team Training

From February 11-13, the Tunica-Biloxi Education Program (TBEP) hosted a 3-day train-the-trainer course on how to develop a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).

Tikahch to Gary Ragen, Homeland Security Program Coordinator from the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, for facilitating the training. We are also grateful to Bill Bischof of FEMA for his support in coordinating this event and the Marksville Fire Department for participating.