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Coming to an end

The Principal Chief of the United Houma Nation for the past 12 years will be leaving her office soon. Because of Constitutional term limits, she is not able to run for another term.

She has been an inspiration for myself and many individuals in our communities. Despite the constant complexities of hurricane devastation, she has been able to maintain this position, raise a family and hold a position in the school system serving Indian education. It will be very difficult for someone to replace her. We are a matriarchal community and her strength has definitely captured the essence of that.

Contact is Jamie Billiot, executive director Dulac Community Center, (985) 665-2030 or (985) 563-7483.

Here is her bio:

Brenda Dardar-Robichaux was born October 15, 1958 in the bayou community of Golden Meadow, Louisiana. Her mother and father are Houma who were not allowed to attend public schools and were limited to a 7th grade education by the policies of segregation present at that time. Brenda was the first child in her family to be allowed to attend public school, and was her family’s first high school graduate. She is the granddaughter of Ernest Dardar, a well respected tribal leader and spiritual healer or “traiteur.”

Shortly after graduation in 1976, Brenda began working for Title VII Indian Education of the Lafourche Parish School Board where she served as Director/Cultural Resource Specialist.

Brenda began serving on the Tribal Council of the United Houma Nation in 1992. In 1997, she was elected Chairwoman of the 16,000 member Nation and in 2002 she attained the position of Principal Chief of the Houma Nation. Under her leadership in both Indian Education and Tribal Government, the UHN has enjoyed unparalleled growth, a cultural resurgence and international recognition. New tribal initiatives Brenda helped to implement Cultural Preservation Programs, Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Tribal Elder and Youth Development, Economic Development, Annual Elders Festival and Banquet, Health Care Services and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival participation. She and the Houma Nation have hosted members of the French Senate, French Aristocracy, and French Naval attachments as well as Tribal leaders of many Nations. Brenda was presented a medal by the French Government, making her the first Houma Medal Chief of the Nation in over 200 years. Her willingness to confront the injustices against Indian people from the classroom to the state capitol is well established and she has gained a reputation as being an outspoken and dauntless advocate for minority issues. †This devotion to her people was what inspired her to start the United Houma Nation Relief Fund in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which is helping thousands of tribal members return home and re-build.

Brenda serves on the Board of Directors of Second Harvest, is a board member of the Inter-Tribal Council of Louisiana where she serves as secretary/treasurer, a board member of the Institute for Indian Development where she serves as chairwoman, a member of the National Indian Education Association and initiated the development of the Louisiana Indian Education Advocacy Committee. She is a member of the Rockefeller Philanthropy Gulf Coast Ecological Health and Community Renewal Fund Advisory Group. She served on the Board of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation and continues to serve as an advisor to the festival. She is an officer and member of numerous other boards and organizations representing her Nation.

Brenda has been named a New Orleans’10 Heroes of the Storm by the Times Picayune, received the 2007 Gulf Coast Recovery and Rebuilding Community Empowerment Award by the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and the 2006 United Houma Nation Leadership Award. Brenda was recognized at the Ms. Foundation for Women 20th Annual Gloria Awards in May 2008 where she received the Woman of Vision Award.

Brenda is married to Dr. Michael Robichaux and the mother of three children, Josh, Jason and Felicite.

This story should focus on Brenda and her role as chief for the last 12 years along with her accomplishments in that time. Word count 700-800 for use in an NFN section, deadline of July 9.

If you are interested in this story e-mail me at kpolisse@indiancountry.com [subject line: Coming to an end]