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Coushatta Vice Chairman David Sickey speaks on diversity issues - Kinder, LA 70648

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Ms. Barbara Pool, Timber Management Assistant on the Winn Ranger District presenting Coushatta Vice Chairman David Sickey with a plaque. Photo by Jim Caldwell
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YouPostTheNews Media

Date Posted:
Nov. 2, 2016 12:19 PM

(YouPostTheNews) – The Coushatta Vice Chairman David Sickey was presented with a plaque following his keynote remarks on diversity issues and matters. The United States Forest Service (USFS) hosts this event annually to honor diversity.

On October 12, approximately 120 United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service employees gathered in Winnfield, Louisiana, to participate in a forest-wide Unity Day sponsored by the Kisatchie National Forest Multicultural Advisory Committee.

The event is held once a year to bring together the diverse workforce employed by the three branches of the USDA Forest Service at the Alexandria Forestry Center: the Kisatchie National Forest represented by the Supervisor’s Office and five Ranger Districts, the Southern Research Station comprised of three Research Work Units, and Region 8 State and Private.

This year the attendees were privileged to hear two dynamic speakers, Crystal Bowie from the LSU AgCenter Extension Service and David Sickey, Vice Chairman of the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana.

The event was held at the Winnfield Civic Center, Winnfield, LA. Sickey spoke about Native American and Coushatta history and culture. Sickey explained aspects of tribal partnerships with the USFS as well as ideas about ways to expand our collaboration.

“The concept of diversity has many facets, and is often defined differently in different contexts and disciplines. To me, diversity encompasses a reality in which unique individuals differ from one another in various aspects, including race, ethnicity, culture, gender, socio-economic status, age, physical ability, religious belief, political belief, world view, personal history, and ideology", Sickey explained.

"Respecting diversity requires, first, an understanding that differences between people are neither good nor bad. The differences merely exist. What gives meaning to these differences is our reaction to them. Respecting diversity entails tolerance of these differences and, more importantly, a celebration of the richness they create within us as a network of humanity.”

“As a member of an Indian tribe living in Louisiana, and as an official of my Tribe’s government, I have seen firsthand the constructive effects of respect for diversity. I have also witnessed the devastating effects of a lack of respect for diversity. And I know, without a doubt, that positive leadership is critical in achieving the greatness that comes with a true embrace of our citizenry, made up of unique individuals, with all of our differences.”

“I believe we can learn two important lessons from my tribe’s history, and from the story of American Indian law. First, I believe that diversity is a fact of life that cannot be stifled by government policies or programs. People are different from one another in some respects. They always have been, and always will be."

"No amount of policy or oppression can stamp out differences that people embrace within themselves or into which they are born. But the second lesson we can learn from tribal history is that these differences don’t need to be erased. In fact, we learn that everyone is far better off if cultural and other personal differences are celebrated and permitted to flourish."

"When each of us is permitted to cultivate our own personal way of being our society becomes more nuanced and interesting, and ultimately a stronger and more resilient one. Our differences create a wealth of experience and thought and ideas that help us grow communally. As a society, diversity empowers us.“

David Sickey’s afternoon address to the crowd was well-received as he shared how the relatively small Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana impacted a much larger group of people, influenced employment in Louisiana and made a difference in people’s lives. His message inspired U.S. Forest Service employees to be proud of their diverse backgrounds, celebrate their differences, and unite towards a common goal and mission.


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