Tunica-Biloxi Tribe to Host Special, Free Screening

Marksville, Louisiana, October 25, 2022 – On April 26, the state of Israel will be celebrating its 75th birthday. As a leadup to the anniversary, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe will sponsor a free screening of Upheaval: The Journey of Menachem Begin on November 1 at Paragon Cinema in Marksville, Louisiana. Organized by David Sickey of Sickey Global Strategies, an advisor on issues affecting Native Americans, Upheaval tells the story of Menachem Begin, the sixth prime minister of Israel and one of the country’s founders, as well as the history of the nascent nation.

In 2008, when Israel celebrated the 60th anniversary of its birth as a modern nation-state, David

Sickey took note, moved by the young nation’s story of struggle and hard-won independence. Then vice chairman of the Sovereign Nation of Coushatta of Louisiana, one of four federally recognized Native American tribes in Louisiana, Sickey extended a hand to Israel. “The idea came to me how can we come together and celebrate independence, sovereignty, self-determination and a shared spirit of endurance,” said Sickey, who later rose to the chairmanship of the Coushatta, an office he held until last year.

Later that year, in an affirmation ceremony on tribal grounds in Elton, La., he pledged friendship to Israel on behalf of the Coushattas, the first Native American tribe to so honor the young nation. Sickey saw the parallels, he said, in the experiences of Native Americans and those of the Jews who found refuge in Israel under British rule and who later fought for statehood, turning the ancient home of their people into an independent and thriving nation. Like the Israelis, “we have managed to preserve our identity and the language of our ancestors despite challenges and external influences,” he said. “Even though we might not be Jewish or Israeli, we understand what they’ve been through, and we wanted to send a message that we are here to support them.”

Upheaval includes Begin’s meeting in Jerusalem in 1977 with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and, later, the signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. A turning point for the Jewish state, the treaty was an act of unprecedented courage at a time when Israel was surrounded by countries that wished only for its demise. It was in acts like this, Sickey said, that he found inspiration, calling Begin’s courage and determination a role model for humanity. “He helped create a nation out of wilderness and paved the way for Israel’s founding.”

And soon, on November 1, another outgrowth of the Coushatta-Israel friendship will take shape

at Paragon Cinema at the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe’s Paragon Casino Resort. When thinking about where to host the screening, Sickey turned to the leadership of the of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana, a generous partner that shares its resources and goodwill across the state of Louisiana. “Part of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe’s mission is to educate others on our rich history and the trials we’ve faced on our journey,” Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr., Vice Chairman of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and General Manager of Paragon Casino Resort said. “When the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and Paragon Casino Resort are able to assist in telling the stories of others, it is a win for everyone.”

Upheaval doesn’t gloss over the contradictions in Begin’s character or whitewash the controversies that surrounded him, but the message of the film is one of courage, leadership and the lasting impact Begin had on a controversial piece of land less than 20% the size of Louisiana. The screening is being held on November 1 at 7:00 pm at Paragon Cinema in Marksville, Louisiana. Admission is free of charge; registration is required. To register, visit: https://bit.ly/3yt7tyK.

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