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.

The Tunica-Biloxi Language and Culture Revitalization Program Hosts the 3rd Annual Basketry Summit

See KALB coverage of the Basketry Summit. See more photos from the Summit here.

On Saturday, Oct. 27, the Tunica-Biloxi Language and Culture Revitalization Program hosted the 3rd Annual Basketry Summit. Weavers from regional American Indian communities demonstrated southeast basket traditions using long leaf pine needle, river cane and palmetto. The Summit was an informal forum allowing weavers to talk about their own technique and elements of their culture represented in the craft. The Summit also included a presentation from guest speaker Dustin Fuqua, Chief of Resource Management at Cane River Creole National Historical Park.

Heart of Louisiana: Tunica Language

View WVUE coverage about the Tunica language. Also covered by WAFB.

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – It’s been more than a half century since anyone could speak the language of Louisiana’s Tunica-Biloxi tribe. But thanks to the notes and recordings of early linguists, the tribal leaders are now teaching their language in hopes of bringing it back to life.

After a full day in school, these young members of the Tunica-Biloxi tribe in Marksville are trying to learn a second language. A language that was once spoken fluently by their great, great ancestors

“We come to work you know every day planning lessons creating new materials in order to teach and to share with our tribal community,” said Elizabeth Mora.

Mora and her mother are helping to guide the re-introduction of the Tunica language, which was helped by an old text and dictionary, created by a linguist in the 1930s and saved by a grandfather of Donna Pierite’s husband.

“We’ve been chosen to do this. It is a gift a spiritual gift that’s been passed on,” Pierite said.

Linguists, including a team from Tulane University, have helped to modernize the Tunica language. They use old Tunica words and imagine how those might have evolved throughout the centuries.

“So for example, pahita is the word for lightning,” said Tyler Whitaker. “We’re also using it for electricity and for anything that’s digital. And the word for to think is niyu. And so we have pahita niyu is an electric thinker or a computer.”

The last known fluent speaker of the Tunica language was a tribal chief named Sesostrie Youchigant. He was recorded in the 1930s singing one of the tribal songs. This and other old wax recordings and linguists’ notes are the holy grail of reconstructing the language.

“It uncovers things about our culture that we would never know if we didn’t know the Tunica language,” said John Barbry.

Beyond the class, lessons are being taken online. And videos – like this Halloween favorite – are helping to stir interest with today’s youth.

“It’ll probably be for a long time us just knowing phrases and greetings and learning how to apply the language in everyday life. And for some of us that are older, we may never be fluent, but we’ll have a knowledge of the language and we’ll have a knowledge of our culture,” Barbry said.

The creativity and dedication of linguists, teachers and these students will determine if their ancestors’ language will ever be spoken again by Tunica-Biloxi families.

You can learn more about the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana at the tribes cultural center and museum in Marksville.

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and Mohegan Gaming and Entertainment Announce Operational Partnership for Paragon Casino Resort

Marksville, La. – (Oct. 24, 2018) – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has announced that it has formalized an agreement with a subsidiary of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE), owned by the Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, to serve as the operational partner for Paragon Casino Resort located in Marksville, La. The five-year contract will enable MGE to take a larger role in the operations and management of Paragon.

The relationship with MGE began as a consulting agreement with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe in May 2016. Since then, the Connecticut-based organization has provided gaming, hospitality and entertainment consulting services to Paragon and assisted with a full refresh of the brand and facilities. Improvements included new, Mississippi River themed carpet throughout the gaming floor, additional slot machines, re-designed billboards, updated collateral and more. With the newly-signed agreement MGE’s subsidiary will manage all gaming, entertainment and hospitality of the casino resort.

“Paragon is a driving force in the local community and surrounding region, “said Tunica Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite. “We are confident that our agreement with representatives of Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment will enable us to be a significant economic engine for the community and the Tunica Biloxi Nation for generations to come.”

“Soon after our Federal Recognition, we were motivated by Senators McCain and Inouye of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to ‘pay it forward’, and to use our good fortune to assist our brother and sister tribes across Indian Country,” said Kevin Brown “Red Eagle,” Chairman of the Mohegan Tribe. “This management agreement is us making good on the promise to do just that, and is an example of how we can work together to sustain our good fortune as we exercise our sovereignty. We are excited and honored to partner with the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, and we are thankful to the NIGC for their favorable receipt of our proposal to manage the Paragon Casino in the Mohegan Way.”

“Paragon has been an economic driver in Avoyelles Parish for 24 years, providing jobs and entertainment to the community,” said Tunica-Biloxi Vice Chairman Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr. “We’re looking forward to expanding that reach and impact to our community.”

“Through our extended partnership with MGE, we hope to continue to enhance the Paragon experience for visitors and guests,” said Jody Madigan, General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort. “MGE has already assisted Paragon greatly over the past two years and we look forward to a bright future with their increased involvement.”

Opened in 1994, the Paragon has both adult and family-friendly entertainment options with an impressive lineup of luxury amenities and attractions including a 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 three shops, a “living” bayou and alligator encounters in the lobby and a three-screen cinema. Additionally, Paragon’s Atrium Bar is the region’s only ice bar and the resort boasts seven restaurants, a daiquiri bar and a full-service RV resort with 205 slips and 30 cabins. Entertainment is hosted weekly in its Mari Showroom and the facility offers over 75,000 square feet of meeting space for large events and groups.

MGE is the owner, developer and/or manager of integrated resorts throughout the United States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania and Northern Asia. Paragon Casino Resort is the first facility in Louisiana to be managed by MGE.

To learn more about Paragon Casino Resort, visit www.paragoncasinoresort.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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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 24 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.

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.

About Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment
Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment (MGE) is a commercial gaming company headquartered in Uncasville, Connecticut at the home of its flagship property, Mohegan Sun. MGE is owner, developer, and/or manager of integrated resorts throughout the United States, including Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Pennsylvania, and Northern Asia. MGE owns and operates Connecticut Sun, a professional basketball team in the WNBA and New England Black Wolves, a professional lacrosse team in the National Lacrosse League. For more information on MGE and our properties, visit www.mohegangaming.com.

Rudy Wambsgans III Receives Recognition for Outstanding Leaders and Advocates of the Tribal Government Gaming Industry

On Tuesday, October 9, the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) hosted a tribal leader’s reception at the 2018 Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas, Nevada. The theme of the reception was honoring the outstanding leaders and advocates of the tribal government gaming industry. Among those being honored was Commissioner Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe Gaming Commission, Rudy Wambsgans III.

“The fact that Indian gaming by many metrics has eclipsed commercial gaming in its share of the gaming landscape is significant and due to the regulation and innovation of Indian country,” said Jonodev Chaudhuri, Chairman of National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC). “It took leadership and warriors for many, many decades to make that possible.”

The National Indian Gaming Association is an inter-tribal association of federally recognized Indian Tribes united with the mission of protecting and preserving tribal sovereignty and the ability of Tribes to attain economic self-sufficiency through gaming and other forms of economic development.