MARKSVILLE, LA – Representatives of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana welcomed U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland to their reservation for a meeting, tour, and lunch at tribally-owned Paragon Casino Resort’s Legends Steak House. During the visit, Chairman and CEO of the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, Marshall Pierite, hosted the Secretary on a tour through the reservation. Highlights of the tour included a visit to the Tunica Treasure Museum; a tour of the library where the tribe’s partnership with Tulane University was on display through Tunica language immersion workshops; and a visit to key reservation departments like housing development, the tribe’s police department, and a new organic farm site, Tahch’i Farm.
The tour also stopped at an area of the reservation that has been cleared to build 19 new permanent homes, which was made possible by a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant. The $6.4 million grant was awarded to support the tribe’s priority of creating safe, reliable, and secure housing opportunities for tribal members. The HUD grant has been transformational for tribal members and underscores the tribe’s ongoing commitment to work with the Biden administration to create opportunities for all of Central Louisiana.
Another focus of Secretary Haaland’s visit was a stop at the Halimushali ancient burial mounds. The land is a site of important cultural significance and its ownership was transferred back to the tribe by the City of Marksville in 2022. This transfer was the byproduct of decades of work between the tribe and multiple generations of state leadership, marking the first time the land had been in tribal possession since the early 1800’s. Work is currently underway to restore and improve the site and, during the visit, Chairman Pierite stressed the need for additional federal funding to help bolster the work currently underway.
Secretary Haaland spoke about the Biden-Harris administration’s recent investments in Indian Country through the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The two laws are the largest-ever federal investment in Indian Country.
“It was an honor to host Secretary Haaland and thank her in person for the historic investments the Biden administration has made in Indian Country that have benefited Indian Country and the communities in which we live,” said Chairman Pierite. “Tunica-Biloxi has been bringing opportunity to Central Louisiana and with the additional resources, we will continue to grow and thrive for years to come.”