Projects We Have Been Working On and With Whom
Isle de Jean Charles
Isle de Jean Charles has lost 98% of its land and most of its population to rising sea levels - but as remaining residents consider relocation, what happens next is a test case to address resettlement. ~ read the article from THE GUARDIAN, 15 March 2016, written by Lauren Zanolli ~
Also - for consideration from INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS, David Hasemyer "Native American Tribe Gets Federal Funds to Flee Rising Seas"
Also - for consideration from MSN, Julie Demansky/Corbis, "Native American Tribe to relocate from Louisiana Coast as Sea levels Rise"
Rising Voices is a community of engaged Indigenous leaders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental experts, students, and scientific professionals across the United States, including representatives from tribal, local, state, and federal resource management agencies, academia, tribal colleges, and research organizations.
The following documentation is directly taken from a letter written by Rising Voices that served as a catalyst for the White House Press Release on July 16, 2014.
Rising Voices, collaboratively developed the following list of priority recommendations for the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience regarding climate change impacts on Indigenous peoples and lands:
· Migration: Convene a Climate Migration Task Force. A Federal Task Force on Climate Migration would address the identified need to establish a legal mechanism, institutional framework, and financial support to directly support marginalized communities (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) who are facing displacement due to climate change impacts and who desire to migrate safely and with dignity. Because many Indigenous communities are urgently threatened with displacement, we strongly recommend that this be considered as a near-term action.
· National Climate Assessment: Establish a permanent and formalized structure for Indigenous participation in the U.S. National Climate Assessment. Determine a mechanism for continued and expanded Indigenous engagement and support for long-term collaborative partnerships that sustain assessment activities, including respectful science support and data collection in collaboration with, not on or for, Indigenous communities. Important Indigenous led literatures and guidelines documents already exist and can be used for advising the Task Force on this recommendation.
· Water rights: Establish an institutional framework to ensure support for tribes to define and utilize their water rights. Tribes need legal, financial, engineering, and scientific support in water rights adjudication, litigation, and settlement, such as financial support to fund infrastructure and engineering and scientific support to adequately quantify available surface and ground water, water use, water use projections, storage/transport options, and infrastructure development. Tribal governments need to participate in timely water settlement deliberations for all uses. An independent review process should be established to provide information on how settlement discussions are progressing and ensure that the kind of support required to facilitate agreement is provided.
· Collaboration to Address Climate Change Impacts on Water: Establish basin-level regional processes for federal, state, local, and tribal governments to develop and implement cohesive strategies for addressing impacts of climate change on water quality and quantity. Climate change impacts on surface and ground water will profoundly affect human health, public safety, economies, ecological functions, and cultures. Collaboration is needed among a wide variety of tribal, federal, state, regional, and local entities with jurisdiction over water to contend with upstream and downstream impacts of climate change on water.
· Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): Map the TEKs, places, resource uses, and histories of coastal and other (i.e. drought afflicted) Indigenous communities as a resource guide for climate change impact and adaptation efforts, especially cross-community collaborations. Indigenous people have a rich knowledge of their environment that is important for filling in lack of data and for developing adaptation and sustainable strategies.
· Indigenous Perspectives: Support inclusion of Indigenous perspectives, insights, and knowledge in federally-appointed and/or agency-led assemblies concerned with natural resources, environmental management, and policy, such as the National Ocean Council’s efforts to improve the health of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. The free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC) of Indigenous peoples should be respected when these assemblies are formed and engage with Indigenous peoples.
· Youth and Veterans: Create a Climate Change Corps to enhance capacity building of youth leaders and returning Veterans. The capacity of our youth needs to be enhanced through mentorships, scholarships, and internships with local federal agency affiliate offices (for example, in the County Extension offices with the USDA; in tribal Housing Authorities with HUD; in the National Renewable Energy Laboratories with the DOE, in restoring National Parks with the DOI, AmeriCorps, Conservation Corps, etc.). The Climate Change Corps, supporting both community youth and returning Veterans, could ensure the persistence and implementation of such capacity to strengthen resilience amongst Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities across the country for the near- and long-term.
· Education: Support and enhance relations between education institutions and agencies to foster educational needs that address climate change, variability, adaptation, and mitigation in all levels of academic education (i.e. K-12, colleges, and universities), as well as for general public education. Youth are the future and need to be involved in learning about climate change and addressing impacts and solutions.
· Collaborative Research: Have Indigenous communities most impacted by a changing climate be co-investigators in climate change research. This includes helping to set a U.S. research agenda that addresses the unique priorities, contexts, and experiences of Indigenous communities and invites community members’ participation as partners. Resources need to be allocated and managed by Indigenous community leaders to enable that participation, including resources to support training, workforce development, data gathering and management, the purchase of appropriate equipment, and the incorporation of research results into community planning.
· Conference and Partnerships: Establish an annual event for Indigenous communities to come together with researchers working on climate change. The Rising Voices I and II workshops provide a model that could be applied for such an annual event. These events could be used as “mileposts” to collaborate and report on the recommendations and activities listed above.
RISING VOICES website:
Additional Documentation for Rising Voices
Conservation in the Age of Climate Change
Members of the Quinault Indian Nation are working on a relocation master plan to move their village to higher ground - but it may be too late. Read on about "Moving Taholah Village Before It' Swallowed by the Sea" by Josh Cohen.
A Roundtable discussion called "Drowning Lands" brought
people together from the Pacific, Alaska, Colorado and Louisiana
for a one day discussion hosted by Merv Tano. Learn more -
Resilient Neighbors' Network (RNN)
This past June community members from Grand Bayou and Isle de Jean Charles participated in the Resilient Neighbors Network’s annual meeting held in Broomfield, CO. Rosina Philippe and Chief Albert Naquin participated in the day long workshop, contributing issues that are pertinent to the resilience of Louisiana’s coastal communities. Also present were Kristina Peterson and Richard Krajeski who serve as members of the Blue Ribbon Advisory Team to Resilient Neighbors Network. Shirley Laska, not in attendance, is also a member of the RNN Advisory Team.
The Natural Hazard Mitigation Association (NHMA) which Dick Krajeski and Kristina Peterson were founding board members, launched a special program named Resilient Neighbors Network (RNN) to link together grassroots communities working to become safer, disaster-resilient, and sustainable. Dr. Alessandra Jerolleman is the founding director of the organization and helps guide and direct the activities of NHMA and RNN.
NHMA is working with ten pilot communities around the USA to create a peer-to-peer sharing network, so grassroots communities can work together directly to strengthen and expand local hazard-mitigation programs.
This RNN co-mentoring network will also offer ideas and feedback to FEMA and other federal partners on how the federal government can help increase community resilience to natural hazards. Depending on the findings during the pilot development phase, it is anticipated that the RNN will be expanded in the future to include other communities working on grassroots disaster resilience and sustainability.
Among pilot communities in the widely-dispersed network of peer-to-peer communication, sharing, and support are Grays Harbor County, WA; Hillsborough County, FL; Jefferson County, WV; Pasadena, TX; Rockford, IL; Tulsa, OK; and the State of Vermont and most recently coastal Louisiana communities through the link with Lowlander Center.
Rural Sociology Society-
Lowlander Center coordinated a field trip to the community of Jean Lafitte for the Rural Sociology Society. 35 people participated in the event that highlighted the issues of coastal land loss, fisheries and community cohesion. Among those who presented were Mayor Tim Kerner, Mr. Perrin, Clint Guidry and Kristina Peterson. The event included the Wetlands Museum and the Jean Lafitte Senior Center which graciously provided lunch. The participants were able to experience a healthy swamp and an unhealthy estuary through two different boat excursions. Guidry was able to share his concerns from his work with the Louisiana Shrimpers Association and GoFish. Mayor Kerner described the political complexity of addressing ever pressing and changing needs of a small coastal community.
(pictured above left-to-right) Marlon Krieger, Mehana Blaich Vaughan, Sibyl Diver, Nikki Crowe, Kristina Peterson, Shirley Laska, Rosina Philippe and Richard Krajeski at the Rural Sociological Society where they presented on topics ranging from sex trafficking, coastal fishing concerns, co-management of natural resources and relocation. Peterson was honored at the annual meeting and was awarded the Distinguished Service to Rural Life at the Awards Ceremony Luncheon.
Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group
Lowlander Center team and leaders of coastal Louisiana Native American tribes participated together in a Gulf Coast Panel on the topic of “Between Now and Then: Climate Change and Indigenous Communities” at the Indigenous Peoples Climate Change Working Group in Boulder, CO, April, 20014. The presentation demonstrated different resiliency approaches of the three communities that were represented: Isle de Jean Charles (Traditional Chief Albert Naquin, left), Pointe-au-Chien, Theresa Dardar (second from left), Grand Bayou Atakapa Ishak, Rosina Philippe (third from left) and Shirley Laska, the Lowlander Center. Other team members in attendance at the workshop were Kristina Peterson and Tony Laska who lead with Chief Albert the presentation on specific Isle de Jean Charles’ relocation proposal. The workshop participants were also able to view a preview showing of the 2013 documentary “Can’t Stop the Water” (https://www.facebook.com/cantstopthewater) about the climate change challenges of Isle de Jean Charles.
Intertribal Agricultural Network
Daniel Cornelius, Intertribal Agricultural Network came to Louisiana in his Mobil Farmers Market van to promote the idea of encouraging and supporting local food traditions. Dan brought food products from tribal communities in the Wisconsin, Minnesota and the Southwest Region to demonstrate the quality of locally marketed traditional foods. Dan took the van to 6 local communities during the visit and at each location talked about the advantages of having a mobile farmers market in rural areas such as our bayous. People eagerly purchased wild rice, maple syrup, hominy, corn flower and fruit jams and syrups. Members of Pointe au Chien tribe, Shirley Verdin, Christine Verdin and Donald Dardar surround Dan and his friend at the meeting held in their community early January. Also pictured, Kristina Peterson, coordinated the 3 day 6 community visit.
Wetlands Theological Education Project
WTEP is a project of "theopraxis" - discernment, learning, reflection, and action.
Wetlands are the link between land and water, and they are some of the most productive ecosystems in the world. They are not only beautiful but also functional, as they reduce storm damage and coastal erosion and provide one of the most productive ecosystems on earth. In Louisiana, marshes and swamps make up most of the wetlands.
After channels have been carved into wetlands for oil drilling (allowing salt water intrusion) and after experiencing natural disasters like hurricanes (which push on the weakened coastline), the actions affect developing natural areas. It weakens the natural protective abilities of the wetlands and their essential part of the eco-system. They cannot absorb the extra water from hurricanes and the entire eco-system begins to change. Both natural and human communities in this precious landscape are also negatively impacted by the lack of on-going attention, education, advocacy, and commitment to change procedures and policies around the country.
The Presbytery of South Louisiana and churches like Bayou Blue in Grey, LA, are doing their part and working to create a Wetlands Theological Education Project.
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Learn More: presbyterianwetlands.org
Bayou Blue Presbyterian ChurchYoung Adult Volunteer
3200 Highway 316
Gray, Louisiana 70359
YAV: Young Adult Volunteers
YAV is a program of the Presbyterian Church USA that places young adults into places of service for a year, much like VISTA or Peace Corps. Young Adult Volunteers is committed to working with the Bayou communities and Wetland issues. Young Adult Volunteers, Katherine Norwood and Bennett Aldredge have joined the bayou communities to help promote the issues and concerns of both the communities and the environment.
Here is a Blog piece written by Katherine Norwood.
In February our friends from Highland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, PA spent a week in Pointe au Chien working on a home in need of repairs and spending time with members of the community.
In March students from the Presbyterian Student Association at Clemson University spent a day in Grand Bayou Village painting the steps and ramp to Grand Bayou's recently rebuilt church.