MARKSVILLE, La., – The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is pleased to announce that Tribal Chairman Earl J. Barbry, Sr. was the honored guest of United States President Barack Obama in Washington, DC., for meetings at the second annual White House Tribal Nations Conference held December, 16, 2010.
More than 320 delegates from among the 565 federally-recognized tribes coming from each corner of the nation assembled at the Department of the Interior for this historic event. From this group, a dozen participants were asked to meet with President Obama for a private roundtable session on the day prior to the conference.
"I was privileged to have been one of twelve regional Native American leaders to meet with President Obama in the Roosevelt Room at the White House this past month," said Chairman Barbry. "It was my duty to convey the concerns of the tribes in the South and Eastern regions to the President, who gave us his undivided attention. His sincerity and understanding of our concerns was evident during his remarks the next day at the Tribal Nations Conference where he reiterated what he understood our main concerns to be. President Obama ended our discussions by vowing that as long as he is in office, Native Americans will have a voice in Washington."
Influential tribal leaders from across the country gathered in D.C. for the conference on Thursday, December 16, 2010. In an effort to emphasize the President's commitment to open dialog with Native American nations, this conference offered tribal leaders the opportunity to discuss issues directly affecting Native Americans regarding land, resources, economic development, sovereignty, tribal communities and government. The National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Gaming Association also hosted a legislative meeting with high-ranking government officials, U.S. Senators and Congressmen days before the Tribal Nations Conference.
Special guests, the Navajo Code Talkers offered a ceremonial presentation of colors before the President's address. President Obama delivered great news to the attendees of the conference – that the United States would support the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration demands the protection of Native cultures, languages and identities; the fulfillment of treaty obligations, equal treatment of indigenous peoples and the rights of Natives to meaningful consultation on all matters that concern them.
Chairman Barbry further stated, "Although President Obama is not the first president to meet with Native American tribes in recent history, he is the first to invite us to the White House for meaningful discussions in a face-to-face closed setting. We were also provided the opportunity to meet with Cabinet members prior to our meeting with the president."
Chairman Barbry has served his tribal community as chairman/administrator for over thirty-two years, and is one of longest serving elected tribal leaders in the United States. In 2006, he was recognized by Louisiana Public Broadcasting as a Louisiana Legend. He is married to Gail Kelone Barbry and has two children, Joey and Earl Jr, and two granddaughters, Alexis and Annabelle.
About the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe
The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe is a federally recognized tribe with a reservation within the boundaries of Louisiana. The tribe owns and operates the Paragon Casino Resort, the largest employer in Central Louisiana. Earl J. Barbry, Sr. was elected Tribal Chairman in 1978 and was appointed as Tribal Administrator the same year. He has implemented many positive changes within the tribe and the Marksville community.
The tribe also runs the Tunica-Biloxi Indian Political Action Committee (TBIPAC) that helps state and national legislators understand the importance of the tribe and the role it can play in the economic well-being of the state and its citizens.
The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe has donated over $3,000,000 since 1994 to various non-profit organizations on the local, regional and national level. In addition to monetary contributions, Paragon Casino Resort employees have also volunteered their time and talents to local community organizations.