BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The Southern University System Board of Supervisors approved a partnership between the United Houma Nation and the university’s law center to provide assistance in obtaining federal recognition.
In an announcement issued Friday, Sept. 20, a spokeswoman for the university said the school’s Native American Law and Policy Institute (NALPI) offers a Federal Indian law course and several seminars and conferences designed for students to learn how to aid and support Native American communities. Within the next few years, the tribal law curriculum will be expanded, the university spokesperson said.
“[Southern University Law Center] desires to offer its skills, knowledge and resources to assist the [United Houma Nation] in achieving federal recognition because [Southern University Law Center] has a special connection on the Houma’s ancestral lands and desires [to] help right the historic injustices the [United Houma Nation] has endured,” states a memorandum of understanding between the university and the United Houma Nation, which was presented to the board of supervisors.
The news comes on the heels of Governor John Bel Edwards signing a proclamation to recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Louisiana on October 14.
“I am proud to proclaim Indigenous Peoples’ Day to recognize the contributions of Native Americans in Louisiana,” said Gov. Edwards. “My administration has prioritized working with the tribes through our Office of Indian Affairs to award scholarships and establish the Native American Commission to ensure issues important to Native Americans in Louisiana get the attention they deserve.”
“The purpose of Indigenous People’s Day is to shine a light upon the incredible legacy of the indigenous people of this land and of this beautiful idea we call America,” said David Sickey, tribal chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana and NALPI partner. “It is a celebratory moment not to imprison us but to inform us, to guide us and to educate us as to the contributions that the First Americans have made to our country. This is a humble moment for our community. One that constantly reminds us of good stewardship and faith passed down to us by our Elders.”
Southern University is the first and only historically black college and university (HBCU) to have an institute of this magnitude dedicated to preserving and advancing the interests of Native Americans, according to the school’s spokeswoman. For more information on the NALPI and its seminars and symposiums, visit www.sulc.edu.