TUNICA-BILOXI TRIBE OF LOUISIANA

Tribal Chairman Joey Barbry, Vice Chairman Marshall Ray Sampson, Sr., Secretary Treasurer Beverly Chapman Rachal; Council Members- Earl J. Barbry, Jr., Alejos Lope, Jr., Harold Pierite, and Brenda Lintinger

The tribe has more than 1,200 enrolled members and 42% live either on or in close proximity to the reservation.  It is one of four federally recognized Native American tribes in the state of Louisiana. 

The Tunica-Biloxi are currently working with Tulane University to study, revitalize and preserve the Tunica language through the Tunica-Biloxi Language & Culture Revitalization Program.  The tribe also maintains a museum/cultural center, police department, social services department, housing program, gaming commission, and an economic development corporation.  The Paragon Casino Resort and MobiLoans, LLC are the tribal businesses.

The Museum in the Cultural & Educational Resources Center (CERC) houses the “Tunica Treasure”, a vast collection of Native American European trade goods and other artifacts deposited as grave goods by the Tunica from 1731 to 1764.  Repatriation of this collection was ordered in a landmark state appeals court and represents a milestone in American Indian history.  This case helped lay the groundwork for new federal legislation, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990. 

TUNICA-BILOXI LEGENDS

The Emergence of the Tunica

They say the Tunica people came out of a sacred opening of a large mountain.  Blocking the sacred opening rested two alligators- the red alligator and the blue alligator.  The sub-commander would tell the people there to visit once or twice a year.  If when they got there and the red alligator rolled over, the weather would be warmer for longer.  If the blue alligator rolled over, the weather would be cooler for longer.  The sub-commander told the people to fast before they went there.  If they did not fast, the red alligator or the blue alligator would eat them.  They would swallow them, for alligators do not chew.

The Sun Woman Story

A certain young man loved a certain young woman.  Every night he asked her to go dance.  One night he took her home and that was the Tunica way to marry.  All she knew was that she climbed up somewhere.  When she woke up in the morning, she found herself in a hackberry tree.  He had gone to get breakfast.  When he had returned with breakfast, she found out it was minnows.  She was so ashamed.  She said, “You go back on the water where you found the minnows and I will go up in the sky and shine of the waters forever for I am Sun Woman.”  For that reason, the Tunica people do not harm, kill or eat the kingfisher.  The Tunica people do not cut down the hackberry tree- the home of the kingfisher.  For the kingfisher is the husband of the Sun Woman.

 

JENA BAND OF CHOCTAW

A few facts…

Tribal Chairwoman B. Cheryl Smith

The Jena Band of Choctaw tribe is located near Trout, Louisiana and Jena, Louisiana.  The tribe was federally recognized in 1995. 

There are approximately 300 tribal members and the tribe provides services to those members such as support for higher education and vocational training, health, housing and transportation. 

The Jena Band of Choctaw emphasizes their environmental protection programs such as Environmental Outreach and Protection, Environmental Reviews and Assessments, Emergency Response, Recycling Program, GIS/GPS, Wastewater and Water and Air Quality. 

The Jena Band of Choctaw is also an American Red Cross Shelter, the first of its kind in LaSalle Parish.  The shelter is only open in disasters and with authorization from the American Red Cross. 

Tribe business enterprises include the Jena Choctaw Pines Casino.

                                                                                                       Jena Choctaw Tribal History 

                                                                                                             www.jenachoctaw.org

The earliest recorded notice of the Choctaw Indians is believed to be about 1540, in the area of southern Mississippi and in the early 1700s near present-day Mobile, Alabama, Biloxi, Mississippi, and New Orleans, Louisiana. Inland from these settlements there was a large tribe of Muskogean speaking people occupying about 60 towns on the streams that formed the headwaters of the Pascagoula and Pearl Rivers.

After the relinquishment of the Louisiana Colony by France, members of the tribe began to move across the Mississippi River. By the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek in September of 1830 the main body of the Choctaw ceded all their land east of the Mississippi river. The Choctaw began to migrate even further away from their original territory. One band settled in a sizable village near present-day Enterprise, Louisiana and other groups migrated to the pine covered hills of what was then Catahoula Parish in Louisiana. Eventually the Choctaw, located between present day Monroe and Natchitoches, Louisiana, joined the group in Catahoula Parish. Principle settlements were established on Trout Creek in LaSalle Parish and Bear Creek in Grant Parish.

In 1910 it was reported that there were only 40 Choctaws located in LaSalle and Catahoula Parishes. The Indian community had very little to do with outsiders and continued their Indian customs and ways. The local store account books showed that the Indians paid for their goods by skinning and tanning hides as well as day labors and household help. The Choctaw community maintained a very distinct, social institution with activities that included marriages, burials, and the maintenance of a tribal cemetery. Choctaw children were not allowed to attend school with white children. Indian children did not attend school for many years.

In 1932, a small school building called The Penick Indian School was constructed and opened in Eden, Louisiana were twenty students attended the all-Indian school. When funding for the school was no longer available it closed, however, one year later the Department of Indian Affairs provided funding and the school was reopened. During this time the Office of Indian Affairs proposed moving the Choctaws who were willing, to Federal Trust land in Mississippi. Many were willing to move but the beginning of World War II interrupted that consideration and brought about the final closure of the Penick Indian School and the Jena Choctaw Indians did not attend school again until 1943.

The year after the end of World War II Indian children were allowed to attend public schools. The last traditional Chief died in 1968 and in 1974 the first tribal election of Tribal Chief was held. Subsequently the Jena Band of Choctaw Indians was officially recognized by the state of Louisiana as an Indian Tribe. The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians received federal recognition through the federal acknowledgment process in1995. Tribal membership now totals 284. The Tribe as a sovereign government strives to improve the well being of its tribal members and those of future generations.

United Houma Nation

A few facts…

Principal Chief Thomas Dardar, Jr.

The tribe has approximately 17,000 members, many of whom reside within a six-parish service area that encompasses 4,570 square miles.  The six parishes are Terrebonne, Lafourche, Jefferson, St. Mary, St. Bernard and Plaquemines.  Here, distinct tribal communities are situated among the interwoven bayous and canals that form the Houma’s traditional grounds.

By land, these communities are distant.  Historically, the Houma used boats to navigate the communities, a method of travel which is no longer viable due to coastal erosion.  Many of the waterways are now nonexistent, impassable or open water and require larger vessels for safe travel.  The United Houma Nation is challenged with preserving and maintaining their culture and way of life as the land disappears from beneath them.

The Houma tribe is known for their unique and beautiful palmetto frond baskets, a traditional craft which is being revitalized and preserved. 

United Houma Nation Tribal History

www.unitedhoumanation.org

 

The United Houma Nation today is composed of a very proud and independent people who have close ties to the water and land of their ancestors. The unique history of our people has shaped our tribe today and the culture and way of life are a lifeline to that history.

 The Houma Nation 300+ years ago was located in Central Louisiana where the boundary marker between the Houmas and the Bayougoulas was the namesake of the capitol city of Baton Rouge meaning “red stick.” With the encroachment of French settlers, the Houmas began migrating south until they reached the lower reaches of coastal Louisiana. Because the land was located along the flood plains of the Mississippi River, it was considered uninhabitable by most settlers. The Houmas were able to live peacefully off of the land, which provided all of their nourishment. Tribal members were traditionally farmers, fishermen and trappers. With the discovery of oil and gas in the 1930s, Houmas became vulnerable once again. Unable to read, write and speaking only a modified French interspersed with their own language, Houmas were easy prey for land developers and oil and gas companies who recognized the value of their property.

It was not until the 1940s that Houma children could attend school, and even then a quality education was still unavailable. Indian schools or “settlement schools” as they were referred to, offered up to a 7th grade education and were staffed by uncertified instructors.

In an effort to provide education for their children, several families moved to the outskirts of New Orleans in the lower areas of Jefferson, St. Bernard and Plaquemines parishes. Here Houma students could attend school and were able to graduate. This movement led to a large urban tribal settlement that still exists today. Even though equal educational pursuits were granted in 1965, few Houmas actually graduated. Many, in fear of the discrimination they experienced at public schools, chose to continue to work in traditional tribal employment as fishermen where they thrived. Consequently, this educational segregation is still felt by the Tribe today which accounts for the huge emphasis of education with our youth. Graduation was not achievable until the 1960s integration movement.





Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana

A few facts…

Tribal Chairman Lovelin Poncho

The Coushatta own more than 6,000 acres in Allen Parish and surrounding parishes. There are approximately 865 members in the Coushatta Tribe.  The land is used for tribal housin, rice and crawfish farming and cattle.  Additionally, tribal government and community facilities are on tribal land, including the Coushatta Administration Building, Tribal Police Department, Community, Health and Learning Centers.

The Coushatta speak the Koasati language and have received a grant from the National Science Foundation to revitalize and preserve their language. 

The Coushatta are known for their beautiful baskets, made from Louisiana native longleaf pine needles.  Even the smallest basket requires hours of meticulous weaving, making the baskets works of art.  Several Coushatta baskets are on display in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The Coushatta’s primary business is the Coushatta Casino Resort, in Kinder, Louisiana.  The Coushatta have several smaller business investments as they seek to expand their business and investment portfolio beyond gaming. 

Coushatta Tribal History

                                                                                                              www.coushatta.org

The Sovereign Nation of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana is a federally recognized Native American Tribe with approximately 865 members. The Coushatta people live primarily in Louisiana, with most living in Allen Parish, just north of the town of Elton, Louisiana, and east of Kinder, Louisiana. A small number share a reservation near Livingston, Texas with the members of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe.

The Coushatta people have called the piney woods of Southwest Louisiana home for more than a century After the Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto encountered a Coushatta community on a Tennessee River island in 1540, the Coushattas relocated, beginning a long series of moves aimed at avoiding European encroachment. By the 1700s, the Coushattas had resettled near the convergence of the Coosa and Tallapoosa Rivers in Alabama and had become part of the powerful Creek Confederacy. Despite this association, the Coushatta maintained their own culture and language and, throughout the eighteenth century, tribal leaders played an increasingly important role in Creek politics.

In 1797, the influential Coushatta chief Stilapihkachatta, or “Red Shoes,” led a group of 400 followers to Spanish Louisiana and, in the spring of 1804, another group of 450 Coushattas joined them in the territory. Over the next several decades, the Coushattas moved their villages from place to place, crossing the Red, Sabine, and Trinity Rivers, in an effort to remain in neutral areas between French, Spanish, American, and Mexican territories. In the 1880s, a group of approximately 300 Coushattas settled at Bayou Blue north of Elton, Louisiana, where they would remain. As the 20th century dawned, Coushatta leaders turned their attention to ensuring the well-being of their people and they began to engage the United States government in this effort. Years of lobbying paid off in 1935, as the federal government extended tuition funding to Coushatta children and, in 1945, offered community members contract medical care. Then, in 1953, the relationship between the Coushatta and the federal government soured, when, despite earlier treaties with the tribe, the Bureau of Indian Affairs terminated all services to the community without congressional approval or community consent.

Efforts to regain federal recognition began in 1965, as community members organized Coushatta Indians of Allen Parish, Inc. and established a local trading post to sell Coushatta pine needle baskets. In 1970, Coushatta leaders began petitioning the Indian Health Service to again provide medical care for tribe members. These efforts were successful in 1972, which was the same year the Louisiana Legislature granted the Coushattas official recognition. Finally, in June of 1973, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana, under Tribal Chairman Ernest Sickey, once again received federal recognition from the Secretary of Interior.

The Coushatta were traditionally agriculturalists, growing maize and other food crops, and supplementing their diet by hunting game. They are known for their skill at longleaf pine needle basketry. After regaining federal recognition in 1973, they began investing in a variety of enterprises in order to provide revenue for their tribal government and jobs for community members. Chief among these enterprises is the Coushatta Casino Resort, which opened in 1995 and has grown into the second largest private employer in the state of Louisiana. The Tribe also operates a variety of smaller business enterprises, as well as health, educational, social and cultural programs, that have economic and social impact on the tribal and surrounding communities.

The Coushatta Tribe now owns roughly 5,000 acres of land in Allen Parish and more 1,000 acres in surrounding parishes. The land is used for Coushatta-constructed tribal housing, rice and crawfish farming and development of a new cattle raising program. In addition to residential housing, there are several other facilities on the Coushatta land, including the Coushatta Administration Building, which houses Tribal Government and the Tribal Finance Departments; a Tribal Police Department; and Community, Health and Learning centers.

More recently, the Coushatta Tribe has launched a major effort to take advantage of its status as a sovereign nation by reaching out to foreign governments to bring about cultural exchange and business development. The goal is to expand the Tribe’s investment and business development portfolio beyond the gaming industry.





 

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