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Thursday, 5 August 2021

Tribe fears climate change will uproot culture

Duration: 02:16s 0 shares 3 views
Tribe fears climate change will uproot culture
Tribe fears climate change will uproot culture

A small Native American tribe in Louisiana is soon to be uprooted due to rising sea levels, prompting fears its culture and heritage will wash away too.

Gavino Garay reports.

It's a tough, emotional move for Native American Chris Brunet… to pack up the only life he's known and head to higher ground.

But, it's a necessary one - as his home on Isle de Jean Charles, a strip of land about 80 miles from New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico, is being threatened by the effects of climate change.

"This here, for me, this is my open space.

This here is my open ground.

This is, this is where I feel where I belong.

This is where I feel at home.

While over there - I know I'll be moving over there - but over there is something different." The government forced Brunet's Choctaw ancestors to flee the southeastern United States nearly two centuries ago.

Now Brunet, and three dozen families from the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe are becoming federally funded climate change transplants, forced from the Isle de Jean Charles this time by rising seas and eroding lands.

Just 2% of the island's mass remains - the rest has been swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico.

In 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development distributed $48 million for the Isle de Jean Charles residents to move off the island and onto a bulldozed 513-acre former sugar farm as part of a massive federal grant package to help areas impacted by climate change.

But with the move are fears that the tribe's culture and heritage will wash away too.

Brunet said he's concerned his tribe will not be able to replicate its way of life, based on fishing and crabbing, in the new settlement.

"For us, what makes it extra sensitive with this relocation that's taking place is that we're moving from a place that was home ground - or that is home ground - and that it is a great sense of belonging." Now, the only places he says he belongs, may soon become a memory of the past due, in part, to the effects of climate change.