Environment | National | Federal Recognition

Leaders of Louisiana tribes in conflict over $48M relocation grant






Flooding hit a home on Isle de Jean Charles in Louisiana following Hurricane Isaac in August 2012. Photo by Susie Danos / Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians

The Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi Chitimacha Choctaw is making history with plans to relocate from its ancestral homeland in Louisiana.

A $48 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will be used to move residents of Isle de Jean Charles to safer ground. Since 1995, 98 percent of the island has been lost due to climate change, chronic flooding and other environmental changes.

“We’re going to lose all our heritage, all our culture,” Chief Albert Naquin told The New York Times. “It’s all going to be history.”

But there are questions about which residents will be able to benefit from the grant. Chief Thomas Dardar of the United Houma Nation has said the money should be used for everyone on the island, something Naquin has disputed.

“We want this to succeed. We're glad we're at the table, and we heard what we needed to hear,” Dardar told The Daily Comet after a meeting with Naquin and state officials last month.

According to the Times, most of the island residents are members of Naquin's tribe.

Get the Story:
Resettling the First American ‘Climate Refugees’ (The New York Times 5/3)
Who gets to move off the island? Local American Indian tribes disagree (The Daily Comet 4/23)
Isle de Jean Charles tribe looks at moving entire community north in first-of-its-kind test case (The Baton Rouge Advocate 4/9)
Chiefs, state to meet over Isle de Jean Charles resettlement (Houma Today 4/6)

Related Stories:
Isle de Jean Charles Band to relocate with help of $48M HUD grant (02/09)