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Julie Dermansky Article about Ongoing Impacts from Oil Spill and Land Erosion

Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe Mobilizes to Respond to Oil Spill Disaster of 2010

Oil at Lac Chien on May 23, 2010
Tribal Members reported oil on the lake to USCG, copyright PACIT 2010

Oil Invades the Tribal Community
On Sunday, May 23, 2010, Tribal Members reported oil in Lake Chien.  Tribal members have been working to protect our tribal fisheries, our tribal homelands, and our sacred sites.  We are not sitting by idly, but are taking active measures to try to protect our homeland.  We are concerned about the upcoming hurricane season.  Because we are not federally recognized, our efforts are impeded, but the government can fix this by bestowing federal recognition on the Tribe, which would allow for more direct assistance to the tribe in clean up and assessment measures. 
Historically, the Tribe was a hunting, fishing, agricultural, and cattle community.  Today, the Tribe relies primarily on fishing due to the devestation of the land by oil companies, lack of protection of the barrier islands, and the lack of fresh water replishment which has resulted in salt water intrusion and the devestation of the land.  But now, even the fishing lifestyle is threatened.  The Tribe is concerned as to the future impacts, but we are doing our best to try to protect what we have left.
As of May 29, 2010--THE SHRIMPING SEASON HAS CLOSED so fishermen are now out of work.  A sheen of oil was spotted below Felicity Island on May 29, 2010.  (Lac Felicite and Felicity Island are named after Felicite Billiot, Alexander Billiot's sister.  She was interviewed by Swanton in the early 1900s when he visited Pointe-au-Chien). 
On June 19, the Shrimping Season reopened in the Cut-Off Canal.  Shrimpers who have contracted their boat(s) with BP for oil spill prevention and clean up, however, cannot use the same boats to shirimp, crab, or fish. 
As of August 17, the shrimping season has reopened in the inner bayous.  Not many fishermen have returned to fishing.  There has been oil spotted below Pointe-au-Chien, and there has been no testing by the EPA as to the whether there are dispersants in the water.  There have also been reports of dead seagulls south of Pointe-au-Chien, some of which had no oiling.   
Concerns of PACIT:
  • Protect Village, Sacred Sites, Fishing Grounds, and Cultural Sites.
  • Plan needed for evacuation and relocation to keep tribal members together in the event of flooding--even with a tropical depression--for an unknown period of time.
  • Workforce training and development in the event the oil spill contaminates fisheries for an extended period of time.
  • Build tribal center to be used for relief and recovery efforts.
  • Health issues associated with change in diet and stress from oil spill.
  • Houses that haven't been elevated are at risk for condemnation if oil enters the community. 
  • Long term effects of oil spill on seafood and animals. 



More information will be updated soon, but here are some news stories on the impacts to Pointe-au-Chien people:
"Determined to Make a Living Before Oil Arrives," May 10, 2010
AP Article, May 18, 2010, Cain Burdeau, "Spill Reinforces Oil Bad Will for Native Americans"
Article about our cousins and neighbors, the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha, "Oil Threatens French-speaking Cajuns, Native Choctaw,"
"Alaskans Paint Sobering Picture of Oil Spill Aftermath," May 25, 2010
Tribal Member Russell Dardar Collects Oil, "Oil Spotted Below PAC," May 26, 2010
"BP Sets up Staging Area in Pointe-aux-Chenes," May 27, 2010
Tribal Secretary Michelle Matherne on one of her last nights shrimping, "Shrimpers wonder which net will be the last," May 30, 2010
CNN, Patrick Oppman:  "Oil Spill Threatens Native American Land," June 1, 2010
Indian Country Today, "Gulf Oil Disaster Propels Tribes into Action," June 3, 2010
Daily Comet, "Residents Unite to Save Land, Water," June 3, 2010
Washington Post, "Gulf Oil Spill Touches Isolted Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe and Its Past," June 4, 2010
France Soir, "Marée noire - Le terrible désespoir des Indiens de Pointe-au-Chien," June 10, 2010,
"Pointe-au-Chien -- Cut Up, Now Polluted," June 13, 2010,
"Cultural Extinction:  Fear of No Recovery in the Gulf," June 23, 2010
"At the Gulf's Bedside, A Louisiana Indian Opens Up on the Oil Damage -- and BP keeps others quiet, " June 23, 2010
Shreveport Times, "Oil Spill Hurting Louisiana Seafood Industry," June 27, 2010
Darh Jamail, Center for Research on Globalization, July 5, 2010
Darh Jamail, Morning Star, "Capitalism's Catastrophe Reaches Shore," July 6, 2010
Culture Map, "An Unexpectedly Grave Concern: Running out of oil in the middle of an oil spill, July 7, 2010
Dennis Bernstein, Consortium News, BP Oil Spill Threatens Bayou Tribes, July 25, 2010,
Numerous Article from Tribal Member Russell Dardar's Trip to Alaska in early August 2010 regarding the oil spill:

"Dead Bird Islands Cover Louisiana Bay," August 29, 2010,

WWLTV, Oil Still in Coastal Terrebonne Marshes, Oct. 11, 2010,

Oil on Fishing Basket from Lac Chien, May 23, 2010
copyright, PACIT 2010

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