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

Tunica-Biloxi Offers Flu Vaccines to Tribal Citizens, Employees, and More

Flu Vaccines will be available to tribal members, their families, Mobiloans and Tunica-Biloxi employees on Friday, October 23 and Monday, October 26 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Tunica-Biloxi Health Department.

Vaccines will be administered at the back of the Health Department building. No appointment necessary. 

For more information please call Tashina Pierite at (318) 240-6438 or 240-6435.

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

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Announces Appointment of Elders Council and Programs To Benefit Senior Tribal Members

Several member of the Tunica-Biloxi Elder Council with Chairman Marshall Pierite

The Tribal Council of the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Tribe has recently announced the appointment of 10 members to its Elders Council.  Serving as officers of the group of elder wisdom keepers are Joanie Arteta, Chairperson, from Wake Forest, NC, Vice-Chairperson Brenda Lintinger, Covington, LA, Secretary Anna Farris, Houston, TX, Kathleen Ubnoske and Pamela Oglesby, Stephenville, TX and Marksville, LA, respectively as Co-Treasurers, Michelle Richardson , San Dimas, CA, David Jackson of Pineville, LA, Raymond Bertalotto, Sr. of Hamburg, LA, Joe Barbry and Rudy Wambsgans, III, both of Marksville, LA.

The group began laying the foundation for its existence and operations in early May 2020.  The Tribal Council, the tribe’s governing body, approved the final version of organizational documents drafted by the tribe’s elders the first week of September 2020.  During the previous four months, the Elders Council started planning programs that would benefit community elders and others.

“Our elders are vital to carrying the culture and traditions of our Tribe into the next generation,” said Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, Marshall Pierite. “The Elders Council will work diligently to show our elders how appreciated they truly are, meet their needs and spread their wisdom throughout the Tribe. We’re confident that this group of Tribal citizens will effectively achieve this mission.”

In mid-September, the Elders Council created Elder Care Packages that were mailed out to all tribal elders and included personal hygiene and self-health monitoring items. Several Elders Council members gathered on the reservation in Marksville, to sort and organize the care packages as a way to send a clear message to senior members of the Tribe that they are being thought of and that their potential needs were being addressed amid the COVID-19 pandemic and hurricane season. For photos of this effort, click here.

In addition to the elder packages, ‘goodie bag—back to school backpacks’ are being prepared by the Tunica-Biloxi 7th Generation Youth Council for all school-aged tribal children.  The Elders and Youth Councils and the Tribal Task Force are coordinating member service efforts to reduce shipping costs.  Each package will contain some of the latest updates to services and programs important and available to our elders and all the members of the tribal community.

Another positive for tribal elders will be an offer from AARP for a one-year membership to the company’s services and benefits for all tribal elders.  This initiative is a collaborative effort between the Elders Council, the Tribal Council and Mobiloans to cover the cost of access to AARP’s membership.  EC Chairperson Joanie Arteta has been negotiating with the corporate offices of AARP to secure this opportunity for tribal elders. For those elders who already possess a membership with AARP, they should be able to apply the tribe’s contribution to their existing enrollment with the program.  More information will be forthcoming. “It is really so important for our elders to know that we are thinking about them and that we care about the challenges they are facing.  We want to communicate with them and all of our members, to let them know what programs and services are offered by the tribal government,” Chairwoman Joanie Arteta stated.

One of the most critical issues for the entire tribal membership, particularly for elder community members is timely communications from tribal government offices.  An exciting new program for tribal members’ benefit will be the implementation of Alert Media, a communication software that keeps members up to date on live messages through mass notifications from the tribal government offices.  The tribe’s Human Resources office will be sharing how members can sign up for this program.  This will come in handy especially during times of crisis.  Other services offered by AlertMedia include monitoring of Loneworker Safety, Wellness checks, Emergency Services, and Local Threat Monitoring, to name just a few of the advantages of www.AlertMedia.com

Currently under development is an Elder Relief Fund program that will support training and vo-tech opportunities for tribal elders, rental and mortgage assistance, and supplemental meal programs (this program has been operative since the early days of the nationwide COVID crisis).  The Tunica-Biloxi Elders Council is pushing aggressively to provide valuable services to elder members by offering an additional level of vocal influence with elected officials.  In the midst of so much upheaval as has been witnessed with the health pandemic and the regional weather threats, Elders Council members lobby continuously with the Tribal Council so that the needs of tribal elders are ever at the forefront.

The underlying theme and focus for the Tunica-Biloxi Elders Council will be working cooperatively with other tribal groups and government departments to raise the level of awareness of the needs of our elder members and tribal members overall.  Meeting some of those issues whenever possible will be a primary objective for this very special group of tribal leaders.  Excitement is at an all-time high with the anticipation of future programs targeting the special demands of our elder members.

For more information on the Tunica Biloxi Elder Council and the services and resources that it is providing, click here. Those interested in learning more can also contact Joanie Arteta at jarteta55@gmail.com.


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Elder Care Packages

In September 2020, Tribal citizens came together to put together Elder Care Packages. This was just one of the Elders Council’s many initiatives to better serve our citizens.

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Register for LCRP Virtual Language Class

LCRP is accepting applications for virtual language classes for all ages through Thursday, Oct. 29. Class time will be set based off of interest and availability. These classes are a fun way to learn the Tunica language!

If you are interested, we ask that you download and fill out a registration form below and return it to Jessica Barbry.

For questions, please contact Jessica Barbry for more information at 318-240-6469 or email jabarbry@tunica.org.

Tunica-Biloxi: COVID-19 Tribal Member Assessment

Tribal citizens,

Over the weekend, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council released a survey in order to gain insight in how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our citizens. The purpose of the survey is to help the Tribe to develop future programming to assist our citizens in the best possible way. Due to the ongoing impact of the pandemic, we have authorized a COVID-19 relief assistance payment to each adult citizen by June 30, 2020.

Rest assured that by submitting your information through this survey, it will remain completely confidential. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana has hired a third-party, HIPAA-certified consulting firm, Yona Consulting Services, as a way to safeguard our citizen’s personal information. Yona will confidentially review the data that you provide through this survey and send the Tribal Council and Tribal Administrator a comprehensive report. We will then review this report and determine how we can best assist our tribal citizens with their respective needs.

Additionally, The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana will not share your data with any entity other than a government agency that requests the use of this data for reporting and demographic purposes. The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana respects the privacy of its citizens and strictly adheres to HIPAA, and all other federal data privacy laws.

This COVID-19 relief payment with be made through the Tribe’s Health and Housing Assistance Program (“HHA”) which provides Tunica-Biloxi citizens with financial support to meet their basic living needs, such as safe and habitable housing, assistance with meals and home care, and assistance with medical expenses and non-prescription medications.

We care deeply for the health and well-being of our citizens and encourage each and every one of you to respond to this survey so we can better support you during this difficult time. We hope that by utilizing the information that you provide that we can continue to offer and expand meaningful support for Tribal citizens.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to myself and the rest of your Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council. To access and fill out the survey, please click here.

Sincerely,

Chairman Marshall Pierite


CHATS WITH CHAIRMAN: COVID-19 RESPONSE EFFORTS