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Gulf oil spill threatens tribes with cultural extinction

Louisiana

June 15th, 2010  4 Comments

“Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe is a small band of French speaking Native Americans along Bayou Pointe-au-Chien, south of Houma, on Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. Their ancestors settled here three hundred years ago, and for them, the ongoing oil geyser is just the latest step in a long history of displacement and disenfranchisement. “The oil companies never respected our elders,” explains community leader Theresa Dardar. “And they never did respect our land.”

In the early part of this century, the oil companies took advantage of the fact that people living on the coast were isolated by language and distance, and laid claim to their land. Over the past several decades, these companies have devastated these idyllic communities, creating about 10,000 miles of canals through forests, marshes, and homes. “They come in, they cut a little, and it keeps getting wider and wider,” says Donald Dardar, Theresa’s husband and part of the tribe’s leadership. “They didn’t care where they cut.”


The canals have brought salt water, killing trees and plants and speeding erosion. According to Gulf Restoration Network, Louisiana loses about a football field of land every 45 minutes, and almost half of that land loss is as a result of these canals. Meanwhile, Pointe-au-Chien and other tribes have found they have little legal recourse. At least partly as a result of lobbying by oil companies, the state and federal government have refused to officially recognize them as a tribe, which would offer some protection of their land rights.


read original on Indianz.com

COMMENTS

  •   drumtographer     0   Posted 1589 days ago 

    I know about these folks...a very good friend of mine's family is down there. I am starting a project this weekend where i give out flip camera to 4 different "affected" people along the coast and bayous. i will be heading down there to give one camera to two sisters who are now working a shrimp boat laying boom.

    They will tell their stories through flip's and report each week. Each story will be featured on HB

  •   kdavidcook     0   Posted 1589 days ago 

    looking forward to seeing these stories.