Tunica-Biloxi partners to open American Indian Center in Houston
In an effort to meet the needs of the large Native American population in the Houston area and their respective tribal members, the Marksville-based Tunica-Biloxi Tribe and the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe in Livingston, Texas, are opening the American Indian Center of Houston (AIC).
The grand opening of the center at 2000 S. Dairy Ashford, Suite 550 will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (Feb. 29). There will be a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon.
Tunica-Biloxi Tribal member Nikki Barbre McDonald will be director of the AIC.
“I am honored to be a part of the opening of the American Indian Center of Houston,” McDonald said. “The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe saw a need in the greater Houston area for not only our members, but for all Native Americans.”
Both of the sponsoring tribes will provide a variety of services for Native Americans. That includes the Alabama-Coushatta’s Employment and Training Program, which provides employment and training services to Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and Native Alaskans that live in Texas.
WILL BE ‘IMPACTFUL’
“I am confident that the center will be impactful for not only our tribal members, but for all Native Americans in the Houston area,” Tunica-Biloxi Tribal Chairman Marshall Pierite said. “ We’re grateful that Alabama-Coushatta is joining us in this endeavor. Together, we can achieve our shared mission of improving the lives of Native Americans throughout the country.”
Due to the growing population of Native Americans in Harris and surrounding counties, the two tribes are striving to become more accessible to families in these areas.
Tunica-Biloxi Council Member Jeremy Zahn estimated 70,000 Native Americans live in southeast Texas.
“We are exploring options for a variety of federal grants, partnerships with other tribes and working with local non-profits to assist in meeting the needs of our under-served communities,” McDonald said.
The AIC hopes to eventually obtain federal grants to promote easier access to federal services that are often unavailable to Native American families living away from the 326 Indian reservations scattered throughout the United States. It will be offering educational workshops and health fairs to promote the well-being of the Native American community.
Tunica-Biloxi elder Anna Farris believes the center will be a great benefit to the Houston community.
“We are helping our youth move forward for our future, while our past is still being taught and not forgotten,” Farris said.
For more information, call McDonald at (346) 374-8516 or email NMcDonald@tunica.org.