Much has been made of small Alaska Native villages falling prey to erosion and sea level rise way up near the Arctic. But similar problems are being faced in the Lower 48 as well, specifically coastal tribes in Louisiana whose members are seeing their small island being slowly devoured by the Gulf of Mexico.
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.”
Thus these tribes, like those of Kivalina, Alaska, may soon need to relocate. Their coping ability is hampered, too, by a lack of federal recognition, which leaves them out of reach of some types of government efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Read the full extent of what these Louisiana tribal communities are facing in These Native American Tribes Are Fighting To Stop Their Land From Literally Disappearing, at Climate Progress.