The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw just received $48 million to move off of their disappearing south Louisiana island. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced in January that it had awarded the tribe $48 million to pay for a move, most likely farther north and inland, making them the first community of official climate refugees in the continental (lower 48) United States. The tribe wants to move as a group as they are rightfully concerned that a dispersal of their people would be the end of their tribe.
The money awarded is part of $92 million provided to Louisiana as part of a National Disaster Resilience Competition the state had won. Note that the American taxpayer will foot the bill for the relocation. For some strange reason, the fossil fuel industry, who shares the bulk of the blame for climate induced catastrophes such as sea level rise, are never asked to contribute a dime.
The Isle de Jean Charles has been reduced from 11 miles long and five miles wide in the 1950s, to around a quarter-mile wide and two miles long today. The tribe’s disintegrating homelands have already displaced and scattered many families, and some of the funding will pay for homes to reestablish community.“Now we’re getting a chance to reunite the family,” Naquin said. “They’re excited as well. Our culture is going to stay intact, [but] we’ve got to get the interest back in our youth.”Chief Naquin expressed dismay that other communities are caught up in situations similar to theirs.“Maybe we can be the model community to teach others,” he said.The Chitimacha Indians (Sitimaxa-"people of the many waters") were the original inhabitants of Southern Louisiana. Circa 500 A.D, the Chitimacha began settling the bayous, where they lived in permanent villages in homes constructed of cane, wood and palmetto leaves.
The Chitimacha in this area lived along the Bayou Teche (a Chitimacha word meaning "snake"). Their legend has it that the bayou was formed when Chitimacha warriors battled a huge venomous serpent that terrorized the region. The snake was miles in length and as it twisted and writhed in death, it deepened the mud where it lay, forming the sinuous course of the bayou.
Like most Indian tribes, contact with Europeans put the tribe on the verge of extinction. In the mid-1800’s the Chitimacha obtained a governmental decree establishing title to 1,062 acres of land, but by the early 1900s there were only 260 acres remaining in tribal hands. If not for the help of Sarah McIlhenny (of the Tabasco family) in the early 1900’s, all of their land would have been stolen. The reservation today stands at 283 acres with a tribal population of 360 souls.
Beset by rising sea levels, communities on the Louisiana coast and offshore islands are constantly flooding, leaving the United Houma Nation and the Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha Choctaw struggling for dry land. These communities in southern Louisiana’s bayou region “are fighting a daily battle against the rising seawaters and disappearing land—a natural process which has been expedited over the last century by the dredging of tens of thousands of miles of wetlands for pipelines and navigation canals by oil and gas companies dating back to the 1930s,” the newswire Climate Progress reported in a January 22 story.“Honestly, I think there’s maybe one or two generations more,” said Regee Dupree, executive director of the Terrebonne Parish Levee District, to Climate Progress. “It’s heartbreaking with the culture aspects but sooner or later, as a government official, you have to be realistic about how much you can spend per capita. All you can do is rearrange the chairs on the deck of the Titanic right now.”
Someone call Senator Snowball.
Someone needs to call Senator Snowball and tell him about the The Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe of southern Louisiana -- they have just been awarded $48 million to move from their homeland that is disappearing because of global warmed sea-level rise.
Posted by Old Redneck