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 firstname.lastname@example.org.