Today is Indigenous People’s Day, still celebrated by some as the violent colonizer Christopher Columbus Day. Clearing the FOG speaks with Jean-Luc Pierite of the North American Indian Center of Boston (NAICOB) and United American Indians of New England (UAINE) about the growing recognition of the trauma and murder of American Indian children who were sent to assimilation centers called residential schools across the US and Canada and how that theft of children’s cultural heritage and identity continues today through the foster care system. A major Supreme Court case that could destroy the Indian Child Welfare Act is set to be heard in November. Pierite also discusses the campaign in Massachusetts to recognize Indigenous People’s Day statewide, the Massachusetts Indigenous Legislative Agenda and the work being done in solidarity with indigenous peoples around the world and the Black Lives Matter movement to create a path to a better future.
Jean-Luc Pierite (Tunica-Biloxi Tribe of Louisiana) is President of the Board of the North American Indian Center of Boston. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Jean-Luc now resides in Jamaica Plain. Prior to his election to the Board of Directors, Jean-Luc was also elected to the Community Linguist seat of the Advisory Circle for CoLang for the period 2016-20. The Institute on Collaborative Language Research or “CoLang” is designed to provide an opportunity for community language activists and linguists to receive training in community-based language documentation and revitalization. Currently, Jean-Luc volunteers with his Tribe’s Language and Culture Revitalization Program which is a collaboration with Tulane University in New Orleans. This program is based on tradition passed from Jean-Luc’s great-grandfather Joseph Alcide Pierite Sr., last traditional chief and medicine man of the Tunica-Biloxi. The Tribe is an amalgamation of members from the Central Louisiana communities of: Tunica, Biloxi-Choctaw, Ofo, and Avoyel.
Jean-Luc has a B.A. in Humanities with a co-major in Mass Communication and Japanese from Dillard University in New Orleans. He also earned an A.S. in Video Game Design from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Jean-Luc currently is the International Procurement and Logistics Manager for The Fab Foundation. The Fab Foundation was formed in 2009 to facilitate and support the growth of the international fab lab network as well as the development of regional capacity-building organizations. The Fab Foundation is a US non-profit 501(c)3 organization that emerged from MIT’s Center for Bits & Atoms Fab Lab Program.
Jean-Luc’s previous positions include: Internet Marketing Specialist for Mohegan Sun, and Graphic Artist for Paragon Casino Resort. He was elected to the Board of Directors in 2017.