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Ernest Sickey, Coushatta Tribe

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"Renewing indigenous economies is relationships, tradition and trade."

Ernest Sickey, Coushatta Tribe
Former chairman, Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana

As a leader of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana for nearly three decades and tribal chairman from 1973 to 1985, Ernest Sickey is a trailblazer in the evolution of Indian affairs in the southeastern United States. He is best known for leading his own tribal community from legal obscurity to becoming the first tribe recognized by the state of Louisiana in 1972. Sickey also played an instrumental role in securing government-to-government status for the Coushatta tribe, laying the foundation for multiple economic ventures that have since placed the Coushatta among Louisiana’s top employers.

Sickey continues to serve as an advisor to the Coushatta Tribal Council and to other tribal governments in addressing economic and social development. Sickey lobbied the Louisiana legislature to create an Office of Indian Affairs, for which he served as its first executive director, and was among the founders of the Louisiana Inter-Tribal Council and Institute for Indian Development.