Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Receives $748,200 Grant to Assist with Revitalization of Tunica Language

Funds from the Administration for Native Americans will enable increased training and fluency.

MARKSVILLE, La. –  (Aug 13, 2018) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council recently announced that the Tribe has been awarded a $748,200 grant from the Administration for Native Americans (ANA). These funds will be dispensed over a three-year period and will support the Language and Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) in training language apprentices to become fluent speakers and instructors of the Tunica language.

 “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Tribe, our people and our rich culture,” said John Barbry, director of development and programming for the program. “In 2017, the Tunica language was recognized as ‘reawakening’ following years of hard work by our people and linguistic partners. We are extremely grateful to ANA for the support in continuing these efforts.”

Council member Brenda Lintinger reached out to Tulane University’s Linguistics Department, specifically to Dr. Judith Maxwell, back in 2010, to gauge the university’s interest in assisting the tribe to gather decades old research materials and documents.  Lintinger’s theory was that if the materials could be updated and reformatted to make them more easily accessible to tribal members, it would facilitate the rebirth of the Tunica language which had not been spoken fluently since before the death of Sesostrie Youchigant, the last noted speaker of Tunica in the mid-20th century.

“This is a dream transformed into a profound reality,” acknowledged Council Member Lintinger.  “To hear our children speaking Tunica during weekly classes and the summer language camp is something we never thought to experience.  This whole process, working with Tulane and Dr. Maxwell’s team and witnessing our children speak the words of our ancestors, continues to inspire all of us with Kuhpani Yoyani Luhchi Yoroni, the Tunica Language Working Group!  The ANA grant will help us to further the objectives of the project, to bring the Tunica language into the homes of all our tribal families.”

There is still a long road ahead to meet the goals of their 15-year master plan for the language. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe currently has 50 speakers but none that are fluent in the language. The grant will enable training of additional, higher-level speakers and will help to expand their language education efforts into a sustainable program which will focus on tribal youth.

“We believe that in order to build for our future, we must cherish our past,” said Tunica Biloxi Chairman, Marshall Pierite. “By educating Tribal youth on the importance of our traditions, we can bridge the gap between generations and sustain our culture for years to come.”

Tunica language apprentices will participate in language classes, one-on-one instruction, independent study, cultural life-ways workshops, language camps and outreach events in order to earn their certification at the end of the three-year period. Instructors will conduct Tunica language classes for Tribal youth as a way to strengthen their sense of identity and community, generate knowledge of the language and lower the extreme risk factors that affect them.

Paragon Casino Resort Donates $50,000 to Avoyelles Parish Police Jury on Behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

MARKSVILLE, LA. – On Tuesday, Sept. 11, Paragon Casino Resort will present a donation of $50,000 to the Avoyelles Parish Police Jury on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The presentation will take place at Avoyelles Parish Courthouse at 6 p.m. Funds from the donation will be used to support the Police Jury’s efforts to improve the welfare and quality of life of Avoyelles Parish citizens.

“We are thankful for the dedication of our local Police Jury and hope that this donation enables them to continue their good work in on our community,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite.

The Avoyelles Parish Police Jury serves as the foundation for the parish’s local government by consistently striving to make Avoyelles a better and safer place to live. It serves as a behind-the-scenes mechanism to maintain the way of life of community residents.  In addition, the Police Jury is responsible for maintaining parish infrastructure, enforcing parish ordinances and providing a host of other local services.​

“The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has been a godsend for the Police Jury and we look forward to our continued relationship,” said Colonel Charles B. Jones. “These funds will be used to support our efforts in meeting the needs of the parish.”

In addition to the Police Jury donation, Paragon Casino Resort made a donation to the Avoyelles Parish Justice Center and the Avoyelles Parish School Board on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Altogether, Paragon and the Tribe will donate $150,000 to Avoyelles Parish entities.

The Police Jury is an essential part of our community and we are honored to partner with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to support their efforts,” said General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort Jody Madigan. “We continuously strive to give back to Avoyelles Parish and this is an excellent opportunity to support the safety and upkeep of our local community.”

 

Tunica-Biloxi tribe receives grant for language preservation

View KALB coverage of the grant for language preservation.

MARKSVILLE, La. (KALB) – The sounds of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe have been preserved for hundreds of years and are now slipping through the cracks with each generation.

The Marksville-based Native American tribe has spent decades creating and providing resources and programs to help keep their language and culture alive.

Before partnering with Tulane University in 2010, the language was passed down by Tunica families. But now, the tribe is in need of some help.

After applying for a grant from the federally-funded Administration for Native Americans several times in the past, the tribe finally received some good news.

“We applied for it several times and this time we were awarded the grant,” said John Barbry, Director of Development & Programming for Tunica-Biloxi Tribe’s Language & Culture Revitalization Program. “Basically the grant is funding five full-time adult students; we’re calling them apprentices.”

Nearly $750 thousand are now available for the revitalization efforts of the Tunica. Five people will be trained to write and speak the Tunica language.

This also provides a way for the tribal base in Marksville to make sure the language is being spread to members in other states like Texas and Illinois.

“By training new instructors, hopefully from those outer communities, they’re able to go back to their community after the three-year grant and create a language nest and teach,” said Barbry. “They’ll be a local resource for learning the Tunica language and culture.”

It’s a language that is more than just a skill to the Tunica people. Language instructor Donna Pierite said that it is “a gift.”

Paragon Casino Resort Donates $50,000 Check to Avoyelles Parish School Board on Behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

Funds will be used to assist in summer reading program to reduce summer learning loss

MARKSVILLE, LA. –  (Sept. 4, 2018) – On Tuesday, Sept. 4, Paragon Casino Resort will present a donation of $50,000 to the Avoyelles Parish School Board, on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The presentation will take place at the School Board Office (221 Tunica Dr. West in Marksville, LA) at 5 p.m. The donation will be issued to the School Board for their summer reading program, “Every Student Succeeds When Every Student Reads.”

“We are proud to support the Avoyelles Parish School Board in their efforts aimed at improving literacy for students in Kindergarten through 2nd grade,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “Early education is a critical time for cognitive development in students. This contribution will not only help the children in our community but will enable us to reinvest in the future of our Parish.

The Avoyelles Parish School Board is working to improve the literacy skills of low income K-2 students.  In order to give students the quality literacy development they deserve, the district focuses on four components with a summer reading program being one of them. The program will prevent or slow elementary students’ decline in performance over the summer.  Through research conducted by the RAND Corporation, it has been revealed that elementary students’ performance falls by about a month during the summer, but the decline is far worse for lower-income students. In addition, summer learning programs have the potential to reverse these losses by engaging students in hands-on, exciting ways.

The district will offer a three-week summer reading camp beginning with the lowest performing elementary school and plans to expand in the future. For the remainder of the summer, the school board will partner with public libraries to allow students to check out books once a week and participate in the library’s summer reading initiative. Funds will be utilized to cover teacher salaries for the camp and to cover bus transportation.

“Thank you to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and Paragon Casino Resort for this generous donation” said Superintendent of Avoyelles Parish School Board Blaine Dauzat. “These funds are essential for the continued development of our program which will equip students with the tools they need for successful futures.”

In addition to the School Board donation, Paragon Casino Resort made a donation to the Avoyelles Parish Justice Center and will also make a donation to the Avoyelles Parish Police Jury on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Altogether, Paragon and the Tribe will donate $150,000 to Avoyelles Parish entities.

“We are grateful and honored to partner with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to support education in Avoyelles,” said General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort Jody Madigan. “We continuously strive to give back to our local community and this is an excellent opportunity to offer our support.”

Paragon Casino Resort Donates $50,000 Check to Avoyelles Parish Justice Center on Behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

 

View KALB coverage of the check presentation here. 

Funds will be used to assist in building new facility that will better serve public needs

MARKSVILLE, LA. –  (Aug. 24, 2018)– On Monday, Aug. 27,Paragon Casino Resort will present a donation of $50,000 to the Avoyelles Parish Justice Center, on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The presentation will take place at Paragon Casino Resort (711 Paragon Place in Marksville, LA) at 3 p.m. The donation will be issued to the Justice Center Committee for a project to build new courtrooms.

“We are proud to assist the Avoyelles Parish Justice Center. It has always been a mission of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to be a good community partner,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “As the Parish’s largest employer, we are happy to assist in donating to worthy causes that directly benefit everyone in our community.”

Due to the conditions of the current courthouse built in 1927, Avoyelles Parish Judges KerrySpruilland William J. Bennett are developing a plan to build a courtroom facility. This building will be accessible to citizens and will include spacious courtrooms, more restrooms, attorney-client meeting rooms, judges’ offices and more. Funds from the donation will be used to obtain the services of a public relations expert and an architect to assist in guiding the Committee along in the project.

“We are closer to seeing this project become a realitythanks to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe,”said Judge Bennett. “The Justice Center is necessary for the safety and comfort of the people of Avoyelles Parish and we cannot thank the Tribe enough for their support.”

“We look forward to the development of the new Justice Center facility,” said Judge Spruill. “Thank you very much to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and Paragon Casino Resort. We are extremely grateful for this donation and all that you do to serve our community.”

In addition to the Justice Center donation, Paragon Casino Resort will also make donations to the Avoyelles Parish Police Jury and the Avoyelles Parish School Board on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Altogether, Paragon and the Tribe and Paragon will donate $150,000 to Avoyelles Parish entities.

“We are continuously grateful for our relationship with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and excited for this opportunity to give back to the community,” said General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort Jody Madigan. “Paragon has deep roots in Avoyelles Parish and we are thrilled to be able to assist with this important parish project.”

Paragon Casino Resort Makes $150,000 in Donations to Avoyelles Parish Agencies on Behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana

 

Donations of $50,000 will be awarded to School Board, Policy Jury and

Avoyelles Parish Justice Center

 

MARKSVILLE, LA. –  (Aug 21, 2018) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council recently announced that Paragon Casino Resort has funded requests from Avoyelles Parish public entities totaling $150,000 on behalf of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. Donations of $50,000 each will be allocated to the Avoyelles Parish School Board, the Avoyelles Parish Police Jury and the Avoyelles Parish Justice Center.

Tribal Chairman Marshall Pierite said the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe takes great pride in its partnerships with the Parish. “We thrive in Avoyelles Parish, and we appreciate the cooperation we receive from these important offices of parish government. These grants will help fund programs that are needed to improve conditions for parish residents and help us all in the future.”

The school board grant will help fund a summer reading program. The program, dubbed Every Student Succeeds When Every Student Reads, is designed to help the district meet its goals for academic achievement by improving the literacy skills of all students, but specifically those in grades K-2.

The judicial grant will be used for the Avoyelles Parish Justice Center. Judge William J. Bennett of the Justice Center, called the grant vital to the Court’s future planning and praised the history of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe for its commitment to the Parish.

The Avoyelles Parish Police Jury expressed its appreciation for the grant which will be used to supplement parish government operations that would not otherwise be possible. In a letter to the Tribe the Police Jury said the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has been a “Godsend” and said they are looking forward to a continuing relationship.

 

 

 

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Raises Minimum Wage to $8.50 for Its Enterprises

 

Today, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council announced that it has authorized a 17 percent raise in the minimum wage for employees in tribal enterprises and Paragon Casino Resort bringing it to $8.50 per hour. The state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. The raise, which applies to all non-tip employees, will affect approximately a quarter of all employees of tribal enterprises in Avoyelles Parish. It will go into effect Monday, August 6, 2018.

Tunica Biloxi Tribal Chairman Marshall Pierite said raising the minimum wage was a top priority of the Tribal Council. “We recognize the value of all of our employees,” said Pierite. “Raising the minimum wage to $8.50 per hour for all enterprises, including Paragon Casino Resort, will be good for our employees, for the Tribe and for the local community, which is important to us.”

The Chairman also stressed that clients and guests compliment the employees they encounter in tribal enterprises often. “Our employees’ motivation and performance are a great representation of Tribal enterprises, and we want to be able to show the confidence we have in their abilities,” said Pierite.

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.

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Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Names Jody Madigan as General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort in Marksville

Marksville, La. (July 23, 2018) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has announced the appointment of Jody Madigan as General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort. His appointment will take effect immediately.

Madigan comes to Paragon after nearly two years as the Corporate Vice President of Strategy and Business Development with Seneca Gaming in Niagara Falls, New York. He holds a master’s degree in management and a BS in accounting from the University of Southern Mississippi.

Prior to his service with Seneca, Madigan gained experience in the gaming industry, serving as a general manager, assistant general manager and chief financial officer at several facilities over nearly two decades.

He said he is eager to return to the South and lead the team at Paragon Casino Resort. “This is an outstanding facility with a fine record of customer service and wonderful entertainment,” said Madigan.

Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite said that he is pleased to have someone with Madigan’s experience and enthusiasm in charge of Paragon. “Mr. Madigan comes to us with a fine record of achievement,” said Pierite. “His background in this region, along with his ability to provide leadership, will help Paragon improve across the board while maintaining our reputation for excellence. He will be welcomed by our team members and guests.”

 

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About Paragon Casino Resort

Since opening its doors in 1994, Paragon has strived to provide the most entertaining gaming destination in the south. Over the past 20 years, Paragon’s amenities and services have been expanded to create the ultimate gaming experience. The best is yet to come.

Paragon features an impressive lineup of luxury amenities and attractions, including a 531-room hotel; 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 live alligators; 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.

With more than 1,600 Las Vegas-style slot machines and over 64,000 square feet of gaming action, Paragon also features over 44 table games, including Craps, Blackjack, Roulette and an eight-table poker room. Paragon also has a free player’s club membership program.

Announced in April of 2016, The Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority (MTGA), operator of Mohegan Sun properties throughout the United States, partnered with Paragon Casino Resorts and now serves as gaming, hospitality and entertainment consultants for the Marksville, La resort.

Paragon Casino Resort is owned and operated by the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. For more information, please visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com and follow Paragon Casino Resort on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

23rd Annual Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow Brings Family-Fun and Tradition To Avoyelles Parish

Marskville, LA – (May 23, 2017) – On Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana hosted its 23rd Annual Pow Wow at the Chief Joseph Alcide Pierite, Sr. Pow Wow Grounds on the Tunica-Biloxi reservation. An annual festivity in Marksville, the Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow serves as a social gathering for tribal members and is open to the public.

“While this event serves as a homecoming for Tunica-Biloxi Tribal members throughout the nation, it also serves as an opportunity for fellowship with other Native American Tribes and an educational opportunity for members of our community,” said Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “Thank you to everyone who came out to the Pow Wow this year and a special thanks to all of our vendors, sponsors, donors, participants, volunteers and community partners.”

Attendees experienced the history and traditions of tribal culture through a variety of interactive events and live performances all weekend long. The Tunica-Biloxi Annual Pow Wow affirms the endurance of indigenous culture every year through vibrant craft displays, music performances, dance presentations and cultural exhibits.

“We are grateful for another successful Pow Wow and plan to continue this expression of Native American culture for years to come,” said Pow Wow Chairman and Tunica-Biloxi Language and Culture Revitalization Program Director John Barbry. “As a tradition in Avoyelles Parish for 23 years now, the Pow Wow represents an enduring presence of indigenous culture in the local community.”

Featured performances and events included the Tunica-Biloxi Singers and Legend Keepers, various Native American Dance Competitions and Drum (Singing) Contests in both Northern and Southern categories. The event also featured over 40 food and craft vendors.

In addition to the Pow Wow, the Tribe also hosted an Education Day on Friday, May 18 at the Chief Joseph Alcide Pierite Pow Wow Grounds to teach area children and school groups about the diverse and vibrant traditions of Native Americans ahead of the Pow Wow. The event included dance demonstrations, opportunities to use traditional tools and toys as well as learn about basketry, clothing and jewelry of tribes of various regions.

For more information on the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, visit – https://www.tunicabiloxi.org/.

To view the Facebook album, visit: https://bit.ly/2s6JCSB

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About the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe

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.

Vice Chairman Marshall Ray Sampson Recognized As Hometown Hero

Click here to view interview with Marshall Ray Sampson

MARKSVILLE, La. (WNTZ) – Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr., vice chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, is awarded the March 2018 Hometown Heroes award by WNTZ FOX 48 and Jarryd Raynes, marketing director of Vaughn Automotive.

Previously, Sampson served on the Tribal Council as a Council Member-at-Large since the spring of 1997. An employee of Paragon Casino since its opening in June 1994, Sampson now holds the position of Assistant General Manager of Operations. He insures that the Tribal Council holds its obligation of preserving the integrity and fiscal responsibility to tribal members with utmost importance.

“The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe is a sovereign nation. We are a government within a government,” Sampson said. The tribe functions as a first nations government unit in order to provide self-governance, education, social services and healthcare to tribe members across the United States. “We have our own laws that allows us to manage our people, manage our departments and to protect our sovereignty for the purpose of our people, to maintain and grow as individuals.”

One major event for the tribe is the Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wow, held annually in May.  Sampson is heavily involved, which brings tribes from many first nations across the country to Marksville for the multi-day event.  “We got a beautiful Pow Wow,” he said. “The Pow Wow is a mixed celebration as we celebrate our culture. It has great food, great dancing, and it has got a lot of competition (events).”

A native of Avoyelles Parish, he has served on numerous community and Native American boards on local and regional levels. Sampson lives in Marksville and has three sons, Marshall Sampson, Jr., Deaontrae Sampson and Dayton Sampson.

To view full article, click here.