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NATCHITOCHES, La.—The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana and Northwestern State University (NSU) signed an agreement this week to advance economic development and research opportunities for both partners.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) agreement calls for a five-year partnership that will support the Tribe’s mission to develop educational opportunities and provide workforce development resources for its 1,500 tribal citizens across the country. 

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“The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is ecstatic to continue and expand our longstanding relationship with Northwestern State University by signing a memorandum of understanding with University President Dr. Jones,” Tunica-Biloxi Chairman Marshall Pierite said in a statement. “This five-year MOU focuses on working together on efforts focused on economic and workforce development, funding advocacy, academic and scholarship opportunities and much more.”

The MOU includes scholarships and continuing education for adult learners, as well as opportunities for faculty, staff and students to partner with members of the Tribe on projects. NSU already has a tuition waiver in place for citizens of federally acknowledged American Indian tribes through the American Indian Opportunity Plan.

“I’m a firm believer that culturally meaningful college education is critical to building tribal sovereignty,” NSU President Dr. Marcus Jones said in a statement. “NSU is a committed partner to tribes in helping to do just that.”

In the announcement, Pierite also acknowledged the work of Dr. Hiram “Pete” Gregory, NSU professor of anthropology, for his work and advocacy over several decades with tribes in Louisiana, including the Tunica-Biloxi.

The Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana is a federally recognized Native American tribe consisting of Tunica, Biloxi, Ofo, Avoyel, and Choctaw located in Avoyelles and Rapides parishes.  The Tribe, one of four federally recognized tribes in Louisiana, has more than 1,500 members throughout the United States, primarily in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois.