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.

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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Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and American Philosophical Society Partner on New Project Aimed at Enhancing the Field of Linguistics

Project will utilize Tunica-Biloxi manuscripts to develop a pilot example of a new digital archiving platform

Pictured: Sesostrie Youchigant the last known fluent speaker of Tunica and the third of Tunica’s 14 notebooks that this project will be based off of.

Marskville, LA The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Language and Cultural Revitalization Program (LCRP) has begun working with The American Philosophical Society (APS) on their newly-launched Indigenous Language Manuscript Interface (ILMI) project. The project was made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and will contribute new solutions to the widespread issues found in linguistics and archiving.

“Part of the challenge when exploring Indigenous languages is having access to existing resources and information,’” said Brian Carpenter, Curator of Native American Materials for the APS Center for Native American and Indigenous Research. “We have worked with Tunica-Biloxi since 2014 through their incredible journey of revitalizing the Tunica language from ‘dormant’ to ‘reawakened.’ Because of the Tribe’s extensive archives and years of research, we knew that they would be the best partner for us in showcasing the capabilities of this new platform. We hope that this project opens doors for both Tunica-Biloxi and other Tribes interested in exploring their native languages.”

Through the project, Tunica-Biloxi will partner with APS, which houses the oldest archive of Indigenous languages, cultures and histories in the United States. Together, the Tribe and APS will create a new addition to archives-based, open-source platforms, allowing researchers to navigate and view digitized original pages of manuscripts written in endangered languages in new, enhanced ways. The platform will also house data about the original text and information added by linguists and community language experts. The goal of this platform is to make all resources readily available to larger audiences thus encouraging the exploration of Indigenous languages.

“We are very proud of all that we have accomplished in our journey of revitalizing the Tunica language and thrilled for the opportunity to make language exploration more accessible for others,” said John Barbry, Director of Development and Programing for the Tunica-Biloxi Language and Culture Revitalization Program. “There is so much that can be learned about a tribe’s culture and history by understanding their language. We hope that through this project we can encourage other Tribes to embark on their own linguistic journey.”

This partnership will focus on the 1930s Tunica language notebooks of Mary Haas and the last known fluent Tunica speaker, Sesostrie Youchigant. The Tribe’s language experts and apprentices will produce transcripts, transliterations and additional information, which will integrate community expertise into the project and provide opportunities for language apprentices to expand their training.

The finished product will be a full Tunica language portal hosted by the APS which will be shared with researchers and used as a model for how other linguists can utilize the capabilities of this platform to enhance the usability of their manuscripts.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this project and grateful for the opportunity to serve as an example for other Tribes that are interested in learning more about their language and culture,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “Thank you to APS and the National Science Foundation for your commitment to supporting us and other Tribes in our mission of uncovering our past.”

For more information on the project, click here.  

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About the American Philosophical Society

The American Philosophical Society, established in 1743 by Benjamin Franklin for the purpose of “promoting useful knowledge,” is the nation’s oldest learned society. An intellectual bedrock of the early United States, the APS counts nearly all of the nation’s founders as Members of the Society. Election to Membership honors those who have made exceptionally significant contributions to science, the arts and humanities, and public life. The Society promotes scholarly research through its Library, including 40 fellowships each year, and through its research grant program. The Society sustains an informed citizenry through twice-yearly meetings and topical conferences and symposia. Public programs and museum exhibitions, which often draw close to 200,000 visitors annually, are inspired by the APS Library & Museum collections, which include 14 million pages of manuscripts, 275,000 books, and approximately 3,000 artifacts and fine art objects. The collection is strongest in early American history, Native American history and culture, and the history of science. APS publications are dedicated to publishing research that reflects a broad range of useful knowledge and is the oldest continuously operating scholarly press in the country.

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

Tunica-Biloxi Participates in American Philosophical Society Panel on Language Revitalization

Our very own Elisabeth Pierite Mora and Patricia Anderson will be participating in a virtual panel on Wednesday, Sept. 23 from 2-3 p.m. (central) for the American Philosophical Society‘s conference “Relationships, Reciprocity, and Responsibilities: Indigenous Studies in Archives and Beyond.” The panel will cover Community-Based Language Revitalization.

To register for the panel, click here – https://us02web.zoom.us/…/reg…/WN_bxHUAPBKRgiEGyKYGHNwLg

Tunica-Biloxi Providing Laptop Computers to Tribal Students

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe has access to federal funding through the Cares Act to provide tribal families with a computer device for Tunica-Biloxi students who will be doing virtual instruction online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As most school districts are providing devices, the Tribe will only provide a laptop if the family’s homeschool service provider or their school district has exhausted their inventory. Many school districts are requiring a device loan agreement. We will verify if there is device availability with the school district or homeschool service provider before issuing a computer. If you have not already done so, reach out to your child’s school or homeschool provider to inquire about receiving a computer.

To receive a computer through the Tribe, you may request an application from the following individuals.

John Barbry
Director of Development & Programming
jdbarbry@tunica.org

Jessica Barbry
Administrative Coordinator
jabarbry@tunica.org

NOTE:

Approval notification will be made within 5-10 business days. Shipment and delivery information is currently being finalized. If you have any questions, please contact the individuals listed above.

American Indian Center of Houston Encourages Voter Registration

The American Indian Center of Houston has received a grant from the National Urban Indian Family Coalition (NUIFC) to encourage voter registration. Alongside “When We All Vote,” our Tribe is able to monitor the number of registered voters.

Did you know that our democracy in the United States is modeled after the Iroquois governance structure? This structure was the oldest participating democracy on earth and their constitution included many ideas that inspired the current US constitution, which is why it’s so disappointing that American Indians are often left invisible within our own country and why this effort is so urgent. The NUIFC and partners span across 18 different states and feature 24 different urban Indian centers, tied to together by an understanding that ‘Democracy is Indigenous’.

From local elections to Presidential elections, it’s important to vote in every election. It takes just a few minutes to register. Visit www.whenweallvote.org/nuifc to register to vote online and to make sure your voice and your vote is heard.

Seventh Generation Council’s Virtual Youth Summer Camp

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The Seventh Generation Youth Council hosted it’s first Virtual Youth Summer Camp July 27-31 for the youth of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. The camp immersed Tribal youth, ages 5-17, in all aspects of our culture through a series of virtual workshops.

Workshops covered topics such as traditional Tunica-Biloxi dress, language revitalization, traditional song and dance, Tribal history, Pow Wow importance, handling finances, slime making and more. There were 3-4 workshops every day with each workshop lasting around 20 minutes. Be sure to check out the photos from the camp!

To learn more about the Seventh Generation Youth Council, click here.

James “Tim” Martin Hired as New Tribal Administrator

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council is excited to announce the hiring of James T. Martin (“Tim”) as the Tribe’s new Tribal Administrator.

In this role, Tim will work with the Tribal Council to manage the administrative affairs of the Tribe and lead the development and execution of both long and short-term strategies in support of the tribal government’s mission and strategic plan. He will implement policies, orders and resolutions approved by the Tribal Council.  Additionally, he will provide direction and insight for Tribal operations and departments, manage Tribal data, report on operational and financial status of Tribe, oversee personnel, work to diversify investments and funding and will ensure Tribal compliance with various federal laws.

Tim has worked with several Native American tribes in the course of his career assisting the as a Tribal Administrator for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and then served in leadership positions with the United South and Eastern Tribes, Inc. and the Creek Indian Enterprises Development Authority, Inc. Tim received his bachelor’s degree in Science with a focus on Business Administration from Troy State University and is a committee member of several groups, including the BIA/Tribal Budget Advisory Council. Most notably, Tim served as a committee member of the Strengthening America’s Communities Advisory Committee to President George W. Bush.

Tim is experienced and dedicated to his work with a proven record of success in negotiation, mediation, marketing and budgeting. We look forward to seeing all that Tim accomplishes in his new role.

Please join us as we welcome Tim as our Tribal Administrator!

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana Orders Mask Mandate, Following Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Statewide Mandate

Face Coverings will now be required on all Tribal grounds and for all visitors to Paragon Casino Resort

Due to health and safety concerns surrounding the spread of COVID-19, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana’s Tribal Council has announced a mask mandate, starting at 5 p.m. on July 14, for Tribal grounds and Paragon Casino Resort in accordance with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ recent mask mandate for the State of Louisiana. Though Gov. Edwards’ mandate covers the State of Louisiana, it does not include Native American tribes; however, as a sovereign nation, the Tunica-Biloxi leaders have acted in the best interest of the Tribal members and the community at large by adopting the mandate. 

Per a revised Phase Two proclamation signed by Gov. Edwards, the Tribe’s order requires face coverings for everyone ages eight and older with the exception of anyone who has a medical condition that prevents the wearing of a face covering, anyone who is consuming a drink or food, anyone who is trying to communicate with a person who is hearing impaired, anyone who is giving a speech for broadcast or to an audience, anyone temporarily removing his or her face covering for identification purposes and anyone who is a resident of a parish without a high COVID-19 incidence that has opted out of the masking mandate. Masks are still strongly recommended for children ages two to seven years old.

“Out of an abundance of caution, as a Tribal Council, we have decided to implement a mask mandate for the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana that is in keeping with the statewide mandate,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe. “The health of our Tribal members remains a top priority and we will continue to encourage members to wear coverings and to practice social distancing in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19.”

As the Tribe requires all Tribal members to follow the mandate, Paragon Casino Resort will also now require all guests, above the age of eight years old, to wear face coverings while at Paragon. Masks may only be removed while consuming food or beverages, in the privacy of a guest’s hotel room or an employee’s office and while smoking in a designated smoking area. Paragon’s designated smoking area will be across from the buffet and guests may smoke in the privacy of their hotel room. Until further notice, these are the only locations that smoking can occur on the premises.

The only guests exempt from this are those with a medical condition preventing them from wearing a mask, those who are communicating with someone who is hearing impaired, those who are giving a speech to an audience of less than fifty and those who are asked by security or the Tribal police to remove their masks for identification purposes.

Additionally, the bars operating at Legends Steakhouse and the Atrium Bar at Paragon and the CyberQuest arcade have been ordered to close and Paragon will not hold any events, gatherings or conferences with more than fifty attendees.

Paragon staff members have been required to wear a face covering since its reopening on May 20 following Louisiana’s Phase 1 reopening plan. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, Paragon leaders have been closely monitoring government policy changes, Center for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, government mandates and public health advancements and have continued to adjust strategies to protect guests and employees.

“Throughout this difficult time, we are doing everything that we can to ensure the health and safety of our Paragon family and patrons, as well as our Tribal members,” said Marshall Ray Sampson, Vice-Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. “We feel as though requiring masks for all Paragon visitors is in the best interest of our guests, employees and the residents of Marksville.”  

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Council and Paragon leaders are continuing to stay in contact with local, state and federal leaders surrounding COVID-19. Both leadership teams are continuing to monitor the situation and will respond accordingly. For continued updates, visit our website or follow the Tribe on Facebook

Tunica-Biloxi Tribe Distributes PPE to Tribal Elders Across the Country

Donation was made possible with the help of Procter & Gamble’s Alexandria Plant, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and FEMA

(L-R) Kevin Fuqua (P&G), Brandon Vanderberg (P&G), Tunica-Biloxi Council Member Harold Pierite, Vice Chairman Marshall R. Sampson Sr., Council Member Bobby Pierite, 7 Generation Youth Council Vice Chairman Marshall R. Sampson Jr. and P&G Staff Member Mike Wehrle convene at the Tunica-Biloxi Police Headquarters for P&G staff to donate protective masks to the Tribe.

Recently, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana was able to donate protective face masks to Tribal elders across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This distribution was made possible thanks to the support of Procter & Gamble’s Alexandria Plant, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and FEMA.

“We’re so appreciative of these entities for this donation and for their continued partnership and support of the Tribe,” said Marshall Pierite, Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana. “Due to shortages across the country, many of our Tribal elders do not have access to supplies that will keep them safe. We’re grateful to be able to ease this burden for our Tribal elders thanks to their generosity.”

As the world continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, Native Americans, like other minority groups and those in lower-income communities, are among those most impacted by this virus. For this reason, Native American tribes have a responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of their citizens. These donations have allowed Tunica-Biloxi to go above and beyond in protecting their most vulnerable members.

“This project means a lot for so many families in our community,” said Tunica-Biloxi Council Member Jeremy Zahn. “Let’s continue to protect our elders at all costs who carry the stories of our sacred history and culture.”

In particular, the Tribe has a long-standing partnership with Proctor & Gamble’s Alexandria Plant. This is just one of the many ways that Tunica-Biloxi and P&G have worked together over the years. In addition to P&G employees assisting at Tunica-Biloxi Pow Wows in the past, members of the Tunica-Biloxi Language and Culture Revitalization Program (LCRP) have visited P&G’s Alexandria plant and educated staff on Native American culture through Diversity and Inclusion Workshops.

“The partnership between the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and the P&G NAI Team is remarkable,” said Brandon Vanderberg, P&G employee and leader of the Alexandria Plant’s Native American Network. “We are grateful for what they bring to our community which is why it was our honor to be able to assist them during the pandemic. We hope to continue building this relationship for many years to come.”

For other updates on Tunica-Biloxi and COVID-19, click here.