Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
Bayou Lafourche Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
Contact: Recovery@lctci.com or (225) 485-8765
Working for the betterment of Bayou Indians of South Louisiana
Louisiana Coastal Tribes Appeal for Help After Ike and Gustav
Devastate Lower Bayou Indian Communities
Tribal Communities Dealt Blows after Gustav and Ike Hit Gulf Coast.
the second time in three years, tribes in South Louisiana face back-to-back catastrophic hurricanes. In South Louisiana, the lower bayou Indian communities of Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, the Isle de Jean
Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha, the Bayou Lafourche Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha, and the Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha
face tough times. Three years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita dealt devastating
blows, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike ravaged the small fishing communities. Hurricane
Gustav destroyed tribal buildings, tribal homes, and left some tribal members homeless.
Some members are living in homes that are not habitable. Hurricane Ike,
a category 2 storm passing 275 miles to the West, caused a 6-8 foot storm surge in lower Pointe-au-Chien and Isle de Jean
Charles. Almost every home in the tribal communities has some damage, and the
tribal communities of the Grand Caillou/Dulac and Bayou Lafourche Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha are also facing similar problems. Tribal leaders assessed that more damage was caused to their communities during Ike
and Gustav than during the 2005 hurricane season.
devastation to the tribal communities results from years of neglect. Unfortunately,
the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community and the Isle de Jean Charles Indian Community are exposed to the elements. With no levee and no coastal restoration projects planned to protect the Community, the Pointe-au-Chien,
the Isle de Jean Charles, and other communities, these small tribal communities face hard times. Their current situation was exasperated when the Mississippi River was rerouted, the barrier islands were
not protected, and the oil companies arbitrarily and systematically cut canals resulting in increased salt water intrusion. Because the Terrebonne Barrier Islands are disappearing, the tribal homelands of the
Pointe-au-Chien and the Isle a Jean Charles Indian Tribes are now the barrier Islands, resulting in more damage and flooding
during each hurricane season.
three weeks, tribal communities finally have electricity and water to start the clean-up process. Some houses, however, cannot be repaired or cleaned. Because
it took so long to start the clean-up process, some families face mold and mildew. Insurance
companies told tribal members to wait to clean up until they can investigate. "It's
a big mess," said Chief Albert Naquin of Isle de Jean Charles, "and we are going to need a lot of help to clean it up."
Charles Verdin of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe is concerned about the impacts the storms will have on fishermen, who have
been unemployed for the past month—the height of the shrimping season. Most
families work during this time period and save funds to last throughout the winter, with the loss of their stored food supply
from their freezers, the loss of additional food supply and income, and rebuilding, this is going to be a tough winter.
officials traveled to Washington D.C. this week to request funding for the State, but the Louisiana tribes need community-wide
rebuilding relief to sustain their communities. In the past, relief funds for
rebuilding and repair have not been sufficient and tribal members who theoretically should have benefited from state-wide
programs for rebuilding have been denied assistance because tribal members live on "family property." Further, the State provided a white paper on coastal restoration needs, which focused primarily on already
funded projects and repair of levees that were breached. Tribal burial grounds
and traditional hunting and fishing areas are also left exposed and tribal leaders fear will ultimately be lost to the Gulf
lack of federal status impacts the ability of the tribes to receive aid from the federal government or from having a real
voice in recovery and relief in the South Louisiana region. Through the Louisiana
Coastal Tribes Coalition, bayou Indian tribes are working together on emergency response and rebuilding efforts. After the 2005 hurricanes, the LCTC was able to coordinate with the Mennonite Disaster Service to build
five homes in four tribal communities. LCTC is coordinating clean-up and rebuilding
efforts across four Indian communities. The Tribes are hoping to coordinate long-term
recovery and coastal restoration efforts in order to protect the culture and way of life of the tribal people of South Louisiana. At the same time, the bayou tribes need to raise over $500,000 to pay for experts
and research to assist in their petitions for federal acknowledgment which are due to the federal government soon. All fundraising efforts, however, have been impacted by these storms.
how to volunteer or to donate, please visit the www.lctci.com, or http://pactribe.tripod.com. Donations can be made directly
to the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe at PO Box 416, Montegut, LA 70377. The Louisiana
Environmental Action Network, www.leanweb.org., is working directly with the tribes to provide much-needed
supplies. Only donations to the Coalition, the Coalition's member tribes, or
organizations working directly with the tribes, are guaranteed to reach those impacted.
Hurricane Ike Causes Severe Flooding
Update September 16, 2008
On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike
made landfall in Texas, almost 275 miles from Pointe-au-Chien, but our Indian community began receiving flood waters from
Ike long before landfall. The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community received a storm surge of 6-8 feet. Our Community
which had not yet recovered from the devestating blows and flooding of Gustav, was now underwater. According to Chairman
Verdin, "Our Community received a 1-2 punch." The Chairman estimates that we have a lot more destruction
from Gustav and Ike than we had from Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Chairman Verdin surveyed the Community
yesterday with tribal members. The lower Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community was still flooded.
Tribal members' homes are vulnerable
due to the acceleration of land loss caused by man made activities including the erouting of the Mississippi River
and excessive oil exploration. There have also been no efforts to restore the barrier islands below PAC. The existence
of our Tribe is threatened by our current vulnerability to mother nature.
There has been little response to the
people of PAC. Our people have been without elecriticy and water since September 1. The Red Cross, Four
Directions, and LEAN brought some supplies after Gustav. But the need after Ike is even greater.
Chairman Charles Verdin, Sr., (985) 856-5336
Secretary Michelle Matherne, (985) 594-3267
P.O. Box 416
Montegut, LA 703770
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe
Most of Louisiana's remaining Native Americans reside in four centuries-old communities in the southern-most
ends of Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, such as Pointe-au-Chien (renamed "Chenes" by non-Indians). In this
sleepy, modest fishing town, Indian French is the language most often heard, and generations of smiles and laughter almost
always accompany a good pot of jambalaya or plate of soft shell crabs. Today, these unique communities, their
language, Indian culture, lifestyle and even their identity as a separate people are deeply threatened.
On September 1, 2008, Hurricane
Gustav ripped through these historic bayou towns with ferocious winds and a six foot storm surge. In
its wake, Gustav left a trail of ripped roofs or crumpled houses, overlain with uprooted marsh and thick
mud, unparalleled elsewhere in Louisiana. Almost
all of these simple homes sustained major damage, from being pushed off their foundation to having their roofs ripped
off. Generations of entire extended families have lost everything, with no monetary means to recover.
If these communities are
to survive, they need help in rebuilding and recovery efforts. To date, one elected official and no agency
representatives at any level have visited them. To date, no media representatives have been there to report on the devastation.
Unseen, and unheard, and without any utilities, their despair grows. Their immediate
needs are simple: food and water to sustain them, tarps and screws to secure their roofs and walls (where possible), tools
and supplies to muck out, and earth-moving equipment and roll-off containers to get the debris out. So far, only the
Louisiana Environmental Action Network's disaster relief mission, the American Red Cross, and Four Directions Solidarity Network
have delivered on some of these needs.
At present, specific needs include generators
and box fans, building supplies such as roofing paper, sheet metal and screws, water for cleaning
and drinking, cleaning products, pressure washers, tarps, tools, first aid supplies, squeegees, shovels, storage
containers and heavy duty garbage bags. In the medium term, they will need building materials to rebuild their
homes, and personal items, furniture, clothes, refrigerators, freezers, and toys need to be replaced. Long
term, the community will need assistance with storm hardening and surge protection, and for the government to get serious
about coastal restoration in the Bayou Lafourche basin. Immediately, the Community could really use some energetic
young people to help them muck out.
If you want to go there and assist with the clean up, please provide
contact information to Joel Waltzer at email@example.com. Donations can be made to the Pointe-au-Chien Indian
Tribe, PO Box 416, Montegut, LA 70377, http://pactribe.tripod.com/, or the Louisiana Environmental Action Network's Gustav relief effort, by
visiting its website at http://leanweb.org.html. Donations made to either the
Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe or LEAN are tax deductible.
For more information: Chairman
Charles "Chuckie" Verdin of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe, (985) 856-5336; or Marylee Orr, Director, LEAN, (225) 588-5059;
or Joel Waltzer, tribal lawyer, (504) 430-0844, or Tribal attorney Patty Ferguson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
September 2, 2008:
Tribal members displaced after Hurricane Gustav passes through PAC. Tribal members evacuated to Tennesse, Texas, Alabama,
Mississippi, and other locations within Louisiana. Our community is not protected by a levee, and with the depletion
of the barrirer islands and rerouting of the Mississppi River, the Community is vunerable to high winds and flooding.
PAC is located in both Terrebonne and Lafourche Parishes, and it is estimated by state officials that Terrebonne Parish was
hardest hit. There has not yet been an evaluation of PAC, since most reporters have focused on Houma and New Orleans.
However, we do know that power lines are down, drinking water is unsafe, and that tribal members cannot return to evaluate
their homes until Friday, September 5. Most family members will have spent days displaced, and will return to unsafe
drinking water, and stores of food lost from the power outage. More updates will be posted as they become available.