Aerial view of Isle de Jean Charles. Image credit: EPA Gulf Guardian Award video.

For nearly 200 years, the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw tribe has made its home on the Isle de Jean Charles, in the bayous of southern Louisiana.

But over the past 60 years, 98 percent of the island has been lost to a combination of erosion, sinking land, and sea-level rise. So the tribe is uprooting itself to resettle on safer ground.

Comardelle: “We have identified a new parcel of land. It’s a prime place that we can, as a community, bring back some of the self-sustaining practices that we once had.”

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That’s Chantel Comardelle, tribal secretary. She says the tribe plans to practice traditional agriculture and install new technologies, such as solar panels and wind turbines. The goal, she says, is to establish a self-reliant community that operates in harmony with the earth and with existing communities nearby. Comardelle is hopeful for the future, but grieves the home she’s lost.

Comardelle: “My heart still longs to live on the island where I’m supposed to be living, but at the same time we have to look past that and see what’s best for the future of our community and for the generations to come.”

Reporting credit: Christina Hoover Moorehead/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Daisy Simmons

Daisy Simmons is a freelance writer and editor with more than 15 years of experience in research-driven storytelling. In addition to contributing to Yale Climate Connections since early 2016, she also...