New partnership energizes collaborations between UL Lafayette, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

A partnership between the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will empower the state’s green energy landscape.

The focus on strengthening Louisiana’s renewable and traditional energy sectors is among a host of areas the new partnership will address. Other areas will include economic, workforce and community development, public health, and computing and information technology.

The partnership will advance the Tribe and UL Lafayette’s shared mission of improving Louisiana; it will also provide crucial resources for the Tribe’s 1,500 citizens and their families, both in Louisiana and around the country.

Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president, and Marshall Pierite, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe chairman, formalized the partnership during a signing ceremony on Tuesday. The event was held at the LITE Center in UL Lafayette’s Research Park.

“Collaborations such as these are essential to our state. By aligning resources toward a common mission, this partnership between the University and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe will strengthen the state’s economic landscape today and nurture future economic growth,” Savoie said.

“This collaboration is good for the University and for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Ultimately, it’s the people of Louisiana who will benefit.”

Pierite said that “this mutually-beneficial partnership will not only open doors for our Tribe, but allow us to make an impact on the development of our state and region.”

“From public health to energy and more, we are working together to address some of the most critical topics in our region. We are extremely grateful to UL Lafayette for their collaboration and look forward to seeing what we can accomplish together,” Pierite added.

The memorandum of understanding signed Tuesday “creates an environment of mutual support” that advances economic development for the Tribe through the University’s applied research and workforce development programs, said Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette’s vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development.

“We are a public university, and the work being done here is for the public good. This partnership is an opportunity to translate our research and intellectual capacity into tangible outcomes that will benefit society,” he explained.

The partnership includes research collaborations, technical assistance, consultation, training and workforce development in a number of economic areas and industries, including traditional and sustainable energy resources.

“One of the focal areas of this partnership will capitalize on the University’s longstanding role as a leader in energy research to assist the Tribe as it explores both conventional and alternative energy sources,” Kolluru said.

Additional collaborations will focus on economic and community development through entrepreneurship, business cultivation, financial literacy and hospitality management. The partnership will also foster collaboration in the fields of public, mental and behavioral health and other life sciences, and through information technology, including broadband applications such as telehealth and e-learning.

The agreement also seeks to enhance support for traditional students and continuing education and lifelong learning opportunities for adult learners of the Tribe.

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has more than 1,500 citizens and their families throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. With deep ties to Central Louisiana, the Tribe is dedicated to the prosperity and growth of the region. The Tribe received federal recognition in 1981 and owns and operates Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville, the largest employer in Central Louisiana.

UL Lafayette is the largest institution in the nine-member University of Louisiana System. It is one of two universities in the state designated by the Carnegie Foundation as Doctoral Universities with Higher Research Activity. UL Lafayette’s research and development expenditures topped $144 million in 2019.

Photo caption: The University of Louisiana at Lafayette and the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will collaborate in a host of areas, including renewable and traditional energy, as part of a partnership signed Tuesday. Seated, from left, are: Marshall Pierite, Tunica-Biloxi Tribe chairman and Dr. Joseph Savoie, UL Lafayette president. Standing, from left, are: Roy Holleman, Tunica-Biloxi Economic Development Authority CEO; Wayne Elmore, immediate past chairman of the UL Lafayette Foundation Board of Trustees; Dr. Jaimie Hebert, UL Lafayette provost and vice president for Academic Affairs; and Dr. Ramesh Kolluru, UL Lafayette vice president for Research, Innovation and Economic Development. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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University of Louisiana at Lafayette, the largest campus of the University of Louisiana System, offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The University has a total enrollment over 19,000 students. Within the Carnegie classification, the University is designated as a Research University with High Research Activity. The University is dedicated to achieving excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, in research, and in public service.

Upcoming Virtual Language Classes

Upcoming Virtual Language Classes: (Classes are via Zoom) 

April 1 – 29  and May 3 – 6 

For continuing and interested students

Contact Jessica Barbry – 318-240-6469 – jabarbary@tunica.org

For a downloadable language class flyer, click here

TBED Kick-Off Workshop: Education & Student Leadership

Education and Student Leadership: Choices, Challenges, Changes Workshop Agenda (1 hour)

Opening (5 mins)

TBED Overview (10 mins)

Workshop (45 mins)

  • Introduction
  • Brain Train Activity
  • Topic Instruction or Activity
  • Discussion and Application
  • Session Evaluation
  • Conclusion

Materials Needed

  • Markers
  • Paper
  • Pens / Pencils

Workshops Details:

Kick-Off Workshop 1

Saturday, April 24th

Grades 7 – 12

Time: 10 a.m. CST

Zoom Link: Click to Join

Kick-Off Workshop 2

Saturday, April 24th

Grades 3 – 6

Time: 11:15 a.m. CST

Zoom Link: Click to Join

Kick-Off Workshop 3

Saturday, April 24th

Grades K – 2

Time: 12:45 p.m. CST

Zoom Link: Click to Join

For an event flyer, click here.

Postponed: March 27 Tribal Council Virtual Meeting

Dear Tribal Citizens, 

Due to the passing of one of our Tribe’s beloved elders, we have made the decision to postpone the Tunica-Biloxi Virtual Tribal Council Meeting, which was set to take place this Saturday, March 27, out of respect for this individual, their family and the rest of our Tribal community. 

We are working through logistics and will follow-up with the rescheduled date and time as soon as possible. 

Thank you to all who submitted questions through our public commend card. We will address those questions at a later date.

We appreciate your understanding and look forward to meeting soon. If you have any immediate needs, please reach out to Beverly Rachal at Brachal@tunica.org.

Sincerely,
Chairman Marshall Pierite

Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow 2021 Postponed

Out of an abundance of caution, the Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow Committee has decided to postpone our 25th Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow until May 21-22, 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Pow Wow is an opportunity for our Tribe as well as other Native Americans to come together as a community and celebrate our heritage, and out of concern for the health and well being of our members we believe it is best to reschedule for a time when we feel it is safe to reconvene as a tribe of many.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. We look forward to gathering with you next year!

Tunica-Biloxi 2021 Special Election Results

The following is a message from Tunica-Biloxi Election Committee Chairman, Robert A. Johnson, Sr. regarding the results of the 2021 special election:

Dear Chairman Pierite,   

In accordance with Election Committee regulations, I hereby certify the following:

  • There are 889 enrolled Tribal members who are eligible to vote in this election
  • There were a total of 1,000 ballots printed
  • All absentee ballot requests received up to and including March 7, 2021, were mailed ballots, along with a return envelope addressed to Teamwork Solutions Group
  • All absentee ballot requests and in-person requests were verified that each voter received only 1(one) ballot
  • Records were maintained of all absentee ballots and in-person ballots given
  • There were a total of 302 absentee ballots sent, and 224 total received back by 4:00pm CST, 3/13/21
  • There were a total of 67 ballots voted at the on-site polling location on 3/14/21
  • There was 1 spoiled ballot
  • There were 16 ballots received by mail AFTER 3/14/21 that were spoiled
  • The final election count/results are as follows:
    Martin Joseph “Marty” Johnson – Total Votes: 28
    David Rivas Jr. – Total Votes: 127
    Rudolph Henry “Rudy” Wambsgans III – Total Votes: 135
  • The Election Committee certifies that Rudolph “Rudy” Wambsgans is declared the winner of the 2021 Special Election to fill the vacated Council Member at Large position.

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and Paragon Casino Resort Donate $10,000 to the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Foundation for COVID-19 Response Efforts

Donation used to buy four ventilators for CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital’s COVID-19 Unit

Marksville, LA. – (March 17, 2021) The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and Paragon Casino Resort recently made a $10,000 donation to the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Foundation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The donation was used to purchase an additional four ventilators for those in critical care at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital in Rapides Parish.

Ventilators are life-saving pieces of equipment used to keep patients alive by supporting breathing. They have been vital throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in helping patients to survive. Due to the increased demand, many healthcare facilities around the world have run into shortages of this essential equipment.

“This donation from the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and Paragon Casino Resort couldn’t have come at a more perfect time as were still seeing a surge of COVID cases here in Central Louisiana at the beginning of the year,” said Ashley Walker, executive director of development for the CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Foundation. “Our hospital was immediately able to order additional ventilators to meet the demand, ensuring that we continue to have the ability to serve any and every person in need of care in our area.”

This donation is just one of the ways that the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe has worked to assist the community and their tribal citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely challenging, especially here in Avoyelles Parish and in order to do our part in this fight, we are honored to donate $10,000 to CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Health System to treat those in need of critical care,” said Marshall Ray Sampson Sr., vice-chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and assistant general manager of Paragon Casino Resort. “This donation has covered the cost of ventilators in order to treat those in need of critical care. We are grateful to be partners with Cabrini and hope this donation helps to save lives and continue the fight against COVID-19.”

In order to do their part in the fight against COVID-19, the Tribe provided free housing for tribal citizens who tested positive for COVID-19, personal protective equipment (PPE) and an Emergency COVID Assistance Program (E-COVID). The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe also offered a free testing site for the Avoyelles community in June and instituted regulations and safety protocol to keep patrons of Paragon Casino Resort safe.

For more information on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, click here. For more information on CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Foundation, 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.tunicabiloxi.org and “like” us on Facebook

About Paragon Casino Resort:

Since opening its doors in 1994, Paragon Casino Resort has strived to become the most entertaining gaming destination in the South. Following its recent refresh, now is the time to take another look at the Paragon.

The facilities features an impressive lineup of luxury amenities and attractions, including 1,300 Las Vegas-style slot machines on a 64,000-square-foot gaming floor; hotel with more than 500 rooms; full-service spa and salon; 18-hole golf course with a fully stocked pro-shop and grillroom; indoor tropical pool with a swim-up bar; a soaring retail atrium with “living” bayou and alligator encounters; a three-screen cinema; Atrium Bar with an ice bar; seven restaurants; daiquiri bar; full-service RV resort with 205 slips and 30 cabins; Kids Quest child care activity center; Cyber Quest arcade; over 75,000 square feet of meeting space and three retail shops.

Over the years, Paragon facilities have made a significant economic impact on central Louisiana. Currently, the Paragon employs over 1,100 associates. In addition, six percent of its net gaming revenue is given to local municipalities. Since 2016, The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA), operator of Mohegan Sun properties throughout the United States, partnered with Paragon Casino Resort and now serves as gaming, hospitality and entertainment consultants for the Marksville, Louisiana casino and resort.

For more information, please visit https://www.paragoncasinoresort.com/ and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s 2021 Special Election

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s 2021 Special Election will take place this Sunday, March 14, 2021, with polls open in the CERC building from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. CST. Due to COVID-19, and out of an abundance of caution, only one candidate or representative will be allowed in the room while ballots are being cast. 

The vote count and announcement will be livestreamed via Zoom from 2- 5 p.m. CST. To join, click here.

COVID-19 Vaccines Now Available at Tunica Health Center

COVID-19 vaccines are now available for all enrolled Tribal Citizens and their spouses at the Tunica Health Center in Marksville. If you are interested in receiving the vaccine, you can schedule an appointment by calling (318) 240-6438 or emailing hfontenot@tunica.org.

Off-territory, enrolled citizens and their spouses are eligible as well, but need to follow the quarantine and/or travel protocol in order to get vaccinated.

Travel and quarantine protocols:

  • Travel must be by personal vehicle; No air or other public travel allowed
  • Quarantine for 14 days and arrive to the appointment with a negative COVID-19 test dated within the previous two (2) days

-OR-

  • Arrive on territory and get a negative COVID1-9 test at the Tunica Health Center and quarantine for three (3) days prior to receiving the vaccine

As supplies become available, vaccine availability will be opened to household members, so documenting their interest is important.

Tunica-Biloxi to Hold Special Election to Fill Council Seat

Dear Tribal Members,

Due to the unusual weather situation in the Marksville area and the Committee’s concern that all potential candidates will have ample time to file, the Elections Committee has voted to extend the filing deadline to 4:00pm CST, 02/22/2021.

Additionally, the deadline for absentee ballots to be received has been extended to 4:00pm CST, 03/13/2021.

This Notice supersedes the filing dates and Absentee ballot receipt dates in any prior Notice of Elections .

Please contact any Elections Committee member if you have any questions or concerns.

Thank you,

Robert Johnson, Chairman,  Election Committee 2021


Click here to read the full letter to Tribal Citizens regarding this election and how to participate.