Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Receives $979,000 Grant from U.S. Department of Justice to Enhance Tribal Police Department

Funds will expand Tribe’s police station and court to enhance operations

For a high-resolution photo of the Tribe’s Police Department, click here.

Marksville, LA – (Oct. 27, 2020) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Police Department has been selected to receive the Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) Grant from the United States Department of Justice. The grant is valued at $979,000 and will be used to renovate and expand the Tribe’s police station by approximately 4,100 square feet as well as expand the court which includes the addition of a law library and conference room, and a larger file room with public access. Both the Police Station and Tribal Court are located on the Tribal reservation in Marksville, Louisiana.

“We are honored to be recognized by the United States Department of Justice and to receive this generous grant to renovate our Tribe’s police station and court,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “Our Tribal Police Department is a vital part of our community, as they help ensure a safe environment for our citizens. This expansion of their facilities will help the department to improve operations.”

The project will begin in the first quarter of 2021 and is expected to last ten months.

“The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Police Department will be able to protect our community better than ever before through the support of this grant,” said Tunica-Biloxi Police Chief Harold Pierite. “The renovation of our police department and court will be transformational for our Tribal Police and will vastly improve our day-to-day operations. We are thrilled to be able to enhance the quality of safety in our community and to better protect our beloved citizens.”

The mission of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Police Department is to enhance the quality of life on the reservation by providing professional police services to the public, maintain order, protect life and property, prevent crime, apprehend criminals, reduce fear and manage a safe environment by enforcing the laws of the United States Constitution, the state of Louisiana, the Parish of Avoyelles and The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana.

The primary function of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Court is to uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana by applying the Code of Civil Procedure. The Tribal Court provides services to all tribal citizens living on and off the reservation as well as Paragon’s employees and guests.

To learn more about the United States Department of Justice’s Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS) Grant, click here.

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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

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Hosts 5th Annual Intertribal Basketry Summit Virtually to Celebrate Native Traditions Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

For photos of last year’s basketry summit, click here.
For a photo of special guest, Nan MacDonald, click here
For a video from the 1st Annual Basketry Summit,
click here.

Marksville, LA – (Oct. 26, 2020) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Language and Cultural Revitalization Program (LCRP) will host its 5th Annual Intertribal Basketry Summit on Saturday, Oct. 31 via Zoom from 10a.m. to 12 p.m.

The LCRP aims to keep Tribal citizens connected with traditional artisans and the community, which is why the 5th Annual Basketry Summit will be hosted as a two-hour virtual weaving session. The goal of the Summit is to educate the community and younger generations on the history and culture of the Tribe through interactive, live demonstrations showcasing the unique designs the tribes are known for in an effort to keep the ancient art of basket weaving alive.

“Even though the COVID-19 pandemic won’t allow us to gather in-person for this special annual event, we are still excited to gather virtually to learn from our neighbors and come together as a community,” said John Barbry, Director of the Language and Culture Revitalization Program within the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “There is so much to be learned about our unique Native American culture and this event is the perfect way to celebrate our shared heritage to ensure the traditions and craft of basketry lives on for generations.”

Tunica-Biloxi Tribal citizens, as well as weavers from neighboring American Indian communities will demonstrate southeast basket traditions using long leaf pine needles, river cane and palmetto. Nan MacDonald, master weaver and cultural consultant working with the Coquille Indian Tribe on the southern Oregon coast, will be the guest presenter. Nan will be joined by Mr. Kent Rilatos, a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians and board member of the Siletz Tribal Museum, for the presentation. Together, the two will present about Bear Grass to explain it’s vital role in Pacific Northwest Culture and how it has been gathered and used for generations for making patterns on fine basketry, adornment on ceremonial regalia, necklaces and bandoliers.

Basketry is an enduring and distinguishing indigenous art form. For years, many Tunica and Biloxi weavers made baskets from local plants, such as dyed river cane, and sold the baskets, or lƆhka (in Tunica), for income. Each element of the weave and design are steeped in the history and heritage of the Tribe. The Annual Basketry Summit is just one of the many ways that the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe works to preserve its culture.

The event is free and open to the public. Participants are responsible for sourcing their own basket making materials which can be found here. All weavers and observers must have their own computer device with a camera and microphone to participant and are encouraged to register in advance by contacting Jessica Barbry, jabarbry@tunica.org, (318) 240-6469.

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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

In case you missed it! Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is Now Using AlertMedia to Communicate with Citizens

One of the most critical issues for the entire tribal membership, particularly for elder community members, is timely communications from tribal government offices. As a way to remain transparent and communicate in a timely manner, The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is now using AlertMedia, a mass notification system, to communicate with Tribal citizens during emergency situations and to give a fast and simple way to stay safe and connected.

With the AlertMedia system, Tribal citizens will receive notifications and updates from the Tribal and Elder Councils via email, text, voice call and push notifications. Citizens can also reply to any notifications with questions or feedback, or by calling the inbound emergency phone number.

How to sign up:
Signing up for AlertMedia is easy! Follow these steps to sign up and get connected today.

  1. Look for the introductory email/text message from the AlertMedia system.
  2. Save the phone number associated with the introductory text message.
  3. Download the ‘AlertMedia Pro’ app for your iPhone or Android.

This system was implemented by the Tribe’s Tribal Council and Elder’s Council as a way to keep citizens safe and updated on all Tribal resources and happenings. For assistance signing up or with any questions, please reach out to Karen Pierite Dorsey at HR@tunica.org.

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Receives Grant to Enhance Academic Resources for Tribal Youth from U. S. Department of Education

Funds will provide increased educational support services and programming

Marksville, LA – (Oct. 8, 2020) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Education Program (TBEP) has been selected to receive a grant from the United States Department of Education’s Indian Education Discretionary Grant Program to enhance the Tribe’s existing education efforts for its tribal children across the United States.

The grant will allow the Tribe to provide increased support services and enhanced programs to help improve the education outcomes among tribal youth. Specifically, it will allow the Tribe to continue and expand services to tribal youth in grades K-12 and provide in-person and online tutoring services, home school support resources, education counseling and mentorship, ACT/SAT prep, supplemental learning centers, additional language classes and cultural workshops, special education services and support for tribal students with disabilities.

“We are incredibly honored to have been selected to receive this grant by the Indian Education Discretionary Grant Program,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “The education and success of our tribal youth is imperative to the prosperity of our community and we are hopeful this much needed support will result in higher scholastic achievements for our youth for years to come.”

While the Tribe already provides a number of educational services free of charge to Tribal citizens, such as tutoring, mentoring, college and career planning and other services, it is critical for the future of the Tribe to increase the educational resources offered to their youth.

An assessment by the Tunica-Biloxi Education Department in 2019 found that the Tunica-Biloxi tribal youth are performing one to two grade levels below their non-tribal counterparts on average. Additionally, many begin experiencing academic difficulty early in their education which can continue to high school. Through the grant, the Tribe will increase educational resources by expanding to grades k-5 and making support available to all Tunica-Biloxi students regardless of residence, providing the appropriate services as well as fund the providers needed to enact those services.

“We strive to support our tribal youth consistently and want to help them succeed academically and prepare for college or vocational training when they graduate from high school,” said John Barbry, Director of Development & Programing for the Tunica-Biloxi Education Program.  “This is why we have worked so hard to design a plan which we know will take our youth’s education to the next level. This grant will help us to put our plans into action.”

For more information on the Tunica Biloxi Education Program (TBEP), visit – https://www.tunicabiloxi.org/programs-services/tunica-biloxi-education-program/.

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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

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Hires Chief Medical Officer To Provide Enhanced Medical Treatment for Tribal Citizens

Role has been filled by seasoned physician and expert in public health, Dr. Arthur Webb, MD

For a high-resolution photo of Dr. Webb, click here.

Marksville, La. – (Oct. 6, 2020) – In order to expand the Tribe’s medical services, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has created the role of Chief Medical Officer (CMO) which has been filled by Dr. Arthur Webb, MD. Dr. Webb joins the Tribe’s staff with more than 20 years of experience as a practicing physician and is committed to enhancing and expanding the Tribe’s healthcare services for its citizens. Through this role, he will ensure that Tribal citizens have access to a full scope of medical treatment as well as preventative care.

“While the health and wellbeing of our citizens has always been top priority, it has become especially important over the past several months as we have worked to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “Dr. Webb has so much compassion for his patients, understands Native American culture and has a wealth of experience in public health, which is why we’re confident that he will be an excellent fit for this role. We’re excited to see the good that Dr. Webb is able to do for our citizens.”

In his most recent role, Dr. Webb explored his passion for public health by assisting various Native American tribes across the country as a physician for Indian Health Services (IHS) over the past eight years. He also served as the medical director for the U.S Secret Service under the Obama Administration, Clinical Director for the United States Department of JusticeandEmergency Medicine Physician at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD.

Dr. Webb received his doctorate from Georgetown University School of Medicine, master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University and bachelor’s degree from Penn State. Additionally, he published his research in a peer review journal.

“My greatest passion as a physician is finding ways to help those that need it most and not just meeting their immediate needs, but providing them with preventative care,” said Dr. Arthur Webb, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. “For this reason, I am extremely committed to working with Tribal leadership to bring complete wrap-around medical services to Tunica-Biloxi citizens across the country.”

Dr. Webb will work to create full-service medical clinics on the Tunica-Biloxi reservation in Marksville and at its center in Houston. His goal is to provide everything from dental care to podiatry and beyond to Tribal citizens through clinics and to pay particular attention to screenings and preventative care.

Additionally, as a part of the Tribe’s commitment to provide benefits to all Tribal members, regardless of location, Dr. Webb and the Tribal Council are working to provide telehealth services by way of virtual appointments.

“With Tribal members across the country, the Tribal Council expressed that it was particularly important to meet all Tunica-Biloxi citizens’ needs, not just those that live close to the reservation,” said Dr. Webb. “By providing all of these new resources, we hope to educate Tribal citizens on the importance of being proactive when it comes to their health.”

For updates and information on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and its healthcare services, visit – https://www.tunicabiloxi.org/.

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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

American Indian Center of Houston Encourages Voter Registration

The American Indian Center of Houston has received a grant from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) to encourage voter registration. Alongside “When We All Vote,” our Tribe is able to monitor the number of registered voters.

Did you know that our democracy in the United States is modeled after the Iroquois governance structure? This structure was the oldest participating democracy on earth and their constitution included many ideas that inspired the current US constitution, which is why it’s so disappointing that American Indians are often left invisible within our own country and why this effort is so urgent. The NUIFC and partners span across 18 different states and feature 24 different urban Indian centers, tied to together by an understanding that ‘Democracy is Indigenous’.

From local elections to Presidential elections, it’s important to vote in every election. It takes just a few minutes to register. Visit www.whenweallvote.org/nuifc to register to vote online and to make sure your voice and your vote is heard.

Seventh Generation Council’s Virtual Youth Summer Camp

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The Seventh Generation Youth Council hosted it’s first Virtual Youth Summer Camp July 27-31 for the youth of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The camp immersed Tribal youth, ages 5-17, in all aspects of our culture through a series of virtual workshops.

Workshops covered topics such as traditional Tunica-Biloxi dress, language revitalization, traditional song and dance, Tribal history, Pow Wow importance, handling finances, slime making and more. There were 3-4 workshops every day with each workshop lasting around 20 minutes. Be sure to check out the photos from the camp!

To learn more about the Seventh Generation Youth Council, click here.

James “Tim” Martin Hired as New Tribal Administrator

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council is excited to announce the hiring of James T. Martin (“Tim”) as the Tribe’s new Tribal Administrator.

In this role, Tim will work with the Tribal Council to manage the administrative affairs of the Tribe and lead the development and execution of both long and short-term strategies in support of the tribal government’s mission and strategic plan. He will implement policies, orders and resolutions approved by the Tribal Council.  Additionally, he will provide direction and insight for Tribal operations and departments, manage Tribal data, report on operational and financial status of Tribe, oversee personnel, work to diversify investments and funding and will ensure Tribal compliance with various federal laws.

Tim has worked with several Native American tribes in the course of his career assisting the as a Tribal Administrator for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and then served in leadership positions with the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. and the Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, Inc. Tim received his bachelor’s degree in Science with a focus on Business Administration from Troy State University and is a committee member of several groups, including the BIA/Tribal Budget Advisory Council. Most notably, Tim served as a committee member of the Strengthening America’s Communities Advisory Committee to President George W. Bush.

Tim is experienced and dedicated to his work with a proven record of success in negotiation, mediation, marketing and budgeting. We look forward to seeing all that Tim accomplishes in his new role.

Please join us as we welcome Tim as our Tribal Administrator!

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Orders Mask Mandate, Following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Statewide Mandate

Face Coverings will now be required on all Tribal grounds and for all visitors to Paragon Casino Resort

Due to health and safety concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Tribal Council has announced a mask mandate, starting at 5 p.m. on July 14, for Tribal grounds and Paragon Casino Resort in accordance with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ recent mask mandate for the State of Louisiana. Though Gov. Edwards’ mandate covers the State of Louisiana, it does not include Native American tribes; however, as a sovereign nation, the Tunica-Biloxi leaders have acted in the best interest of the Tribal members and the community at large by adopting the mandate. 

Per a revised Phase Two proclamation signed by Gov. Edwards, the Tribe’s order requires face coverings for everyone ages eight and older with the exception of anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering, anyone who is consuming a drink or food, anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired, anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience, anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes and anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID-19 incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate. Masks are still strongly recommended for children ages two to seven years old.

“Out of an abundance of caution, as a Tribal Council, we have decided to implement a mask mandate for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana that is in keeping with the statewide mandate,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “The health of our Tribal members remains a top priority and we will continue to encourage members to wear coverings and to practice social distancing in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

As the Tribe requires all Tribal members to follow the mandate, Paragon Casino Resort will also now require all guests, above the age of eight years old, to wear face coverings while at Paragon. Masks may only be removed while consuming food or beverages, in the privacy of a guest’s hotel room or an employee’s office and while smoking in a designated smoking area. Paragon’s designated smoking area will be across from the buffet and guests may smoke in the privacy of their hotel room. Until further notice, these are the only locations that smoking can occur on the premises.

The only guests exempt from this are those with a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask, those who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, those who are giving a speech to an audience of less than fifty and those who are asked by security or the Tribal police to remove their masks for identification purposes.

Additionally, the bars operating at Legends Steakhouse and the Atrium Bar at Paragon and the CyberQuest arcade have been ordered to close and Paragon will not hold any events, gatherings or conferences with more than fifty attendees.

Paragon staff members have been required to wear a face covering since its reopening on May 20 following Louisiana’s Phase 1 reopening plan. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, Paragon leaders have been closely monitoring government policy changes, Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, government mandates and public health advancements and have continued to adjust strategies to protect guests and employees.

“Throughout this difficult time, we are doing everything that we can to ensure the health and safety of our Paragon family and patrons, as well as our Tribal members,” said Marshall Ray Sampson, Vice-Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. “We feel as though requiring masks for all Paragon visitors is in the best interest of our guests, employees and the residents of Marksville.”  

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council and Paragon leaders are continuing to stay in contact with local, state and federal leaders surrounding COVID-19. Both leadership teams are continuing to monitor the situation and will respond accordingly. For continued updates, visit our website or follow the Tribe on Facebook