In an effort to meet the needs of the large Native American population in the Houston area and their respective Tribal members, The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana based out of Marksville, LA and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas based out of Livingston, TX are opening the American Indian Center of Houston. The grand opening of this center, which will be located at 2000 S. Dairy Ashford, Suite 550, Houston, TX 77077, will take place on Saturday, Feb. 29 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 12 p.m.
To oversee its operations, Sam Houston State University graduate and Tunica-Biloxi Tribal member, Nikki Barbre-McDonald has been hired as the Director of the American Indian Center of Houston.
“I am honored to be a part of the opening of the American Indian Center of Houston. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe saw a need in the greater Houston area for not only our members, but for all Native Americans,” said Nikki McDonald, Director of the American Indian Center.
Through the Center, both tribes will provide a variety of services for Native Americans in the area including Alabama-Coushatta’s Employment and Training Program, which provides employment and training services to Native Americans/American Indians, Native Hawaiians and Native Alaskans that reside within the 121 county of the State of Texas.
“I am confident that the Center will be impactful for not only our Tribal members but for all Native Americans in the Houston area,” said Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Marshall Pierite. “We’re grateful that Alabama-Coushatta is joining us in this endeavor. Together, we can achieve our shared mission of improving the lives of Native Americans throughout the country on enhanced capacity.”
Due to the growing population of Native Americans in Harris and surrounding counties, the two Tribes are striving to become more accessible to families in these areas. According to Jeremy Zahn, Tunica-Biloxi Council Member, there are an estimated 70,000 Native Americans residing in the southeast Texas region today.
“We are exploring options for a variety of federal grants, partnerships with other tribes, and working with local non-profits to assist in meeting the needs of our underserved communities,” said McDonald.
The center hopes to obtain federal grants to promote easier access to federal services that are often unavailable to Native American families living away from the 326 Indian reservations scattered throughout the United States. Until then, the center will offer educational workshops and health fairs to promote the well-being of the Native American community.”
In the future, Tunica-Biloxi elder, Anna Farris, believes the center will become a breakthrough for the Houston community. “We are helping our youth move forward for our future, while our past is still being taught and not forgotten.”
For more information on the American Indian Center of Houston, contact Nikki McDonald at (346)374-8516 or NMcDonald@tunica.org.