Michael Dardar: Houma Nation sitting in the eye of a hurricane

"In my own life story Katrina was the third hurricane in which I would lose my home and most of my belongings. The first two, Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969, I would experience as a youth but the lessons were well learned. My dad would admonish me, “you can’t take it with you when you die,” emphasizing that material possessions could easily come and go with the storms and that I needed to be grounded in family and love ones. I saw firsthand, as a young man, how to start over and rebuild; for my people the land and water was always there to provide a foundation to rebuild on.

I would learn a much different lesson as an adult, a lesson made real by my experience with Katrina. My eyes were open and I saw clearly how a century of unchecked economic development had devastated my homeland long before Katrina made landfall a few miles from my home. Levees, jetties, oil fields, and pipeline canals had left deep scars and substantially reduced the capacity of the land and water to protect, provide, and heal. By 2005 the foundation upon which we had rebuilt ourselves time and time again was almost completely gone. Now every storm that comes takes away more than can be restored, the ground beneath our feet is literally washing away.

So with the memory of Katrina still fresh in my mind, I sit in the eye of hurricane Isaac and I tremble. I don’t fear the power of the wind and rain; I’ve known them my whole life, rather I fear the insatiable appetite of colonial capitalism that continues to devour the homeland that I love. When the skies clear tomorrow Isaac will be a memory but the realities of industrial avarice and the coastal land loss it brings will still be here with us."

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Michael Dardar: In the Eye of Isaac (Indian Country Today 8/30)

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