Chairman Earl Joseph Barbry, Sr.


October 2, 1950 - July 31, 2013

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Funeral services for Chairman Earl Joseph Barbry will be held on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. in the Mari Center at the Paragon Casino in Marksville, LA with Father Rusty Rabalais officiating. Entombment will be held at St. Paul Mausoleum in Mansura, LA. Arrangements are under the direction of Hixson Brothers Funeral Home of Marksville.
Chairman Barbry, age 62, of Mansura, passed away on Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at St. Francis Cabrini Hospital in Alexandria. He was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel Barbry, Sr. and Carrie Pierite Barbry, brothers, Winston Barbry, Sam Barbry, Jr., and Gervis Barbry, sisters, Mary Barbry Vercher, and Eunice Maricle.
Chairman Barbry was a great family man and respected leader, as well as, a father figure to many. He distinguished himself in his service to the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe, the local community, and across Indian Country and the United States. We will always be thankful for Chairman Barbry’s vision, hard work, and leadership. He will be deeply missed by all, but his legacy will continue to live on.
Chairman Barbry was raised on the Tunica-Biloxi Reservation in Marksville, La. Under his leadership, the Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana received federal recognition in September 1981. Chairman Barbry was elected Tribal Chairman in 1978 and was appointed as Tribal Administrator that same year. He served in these capacities until his passing. Chairman Barbry was the longest serving leader of any federally recognized tribe in the United States.
Chairman Barbry was a nationally known American Indian leader, serving on the Louisiana Inter-Tribal Council, an organization serving federal and state-recognized Indian communities, and as a board member of USET (United South & Eastern Tribes, Inc.), a non-profit, inter-tribal organization that collectively represents its member Tribes at the regional and national level. Barbry is descended from a long, unbroken line of Tunica-Biloxi chiefs. His grandfather, Elijah Barbry, was the first activist chief in Louisiana to attempt to get a federal response to the needs of Louisiana Indian people.
Under Barbry’s leadership, the Tunica-Biloxi repatriated artifacts looted from their 18th century cemetery near St. Francisville. A court action initiated from Tunica-Biloxi helped build the foundation for the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Chairman Barbry oversaw the development and construction of major housing communities, paved roads, tribal center, court complex, social services office, a hotel-casino recreation complex and a multi-million dollar cultural and education center.
Barbry was named Avoyellean of the Year in 1993 by the Avoyelles Journal, the highest award given in the parish. In 1996, the Marksville Chamber of Commerce named him Minority Businessman of the Year. He received the 2005 Leadership Award of the National Indian Gaming Association. In 2006, he was named a Louisiana Legend by Louisiana Public Broadcasting in recognition of his cultural, educational and economic contributions to the region and the state. He was the first American Indian to receive this honor. In December 2011, Chairman Barbry was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by Northwestern State University during its fall commencement exercises.
He is survived by his wife of 45 years, Gail Kelone Barbry of Mansura, two sons, Earl J. Barbry Jr. and wife Julie of Mansura, Joey P. Barbry and companion, Kristie of Marksville, two grandchildren, Alexis Barbry and Annabelle Barbry, numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held at the Mari Center at the Paragon Casino on Monday, August 5, 2013 from 4:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. and will resume on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. until time of services.
A Christian Wake Service will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Monday.