A community-based model for resettlement

Lessons from coastal Louisiana

Authored by: Julie K. Maldonado , Kristina Peterson

Routledge Handbook of Environmental Displacement and Migration

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138194465
eBook ISBN: 9781315638843
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315638843-23

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Abstract

This chapter highlights the resettlement efforts of the Isle de Jean Charles Tribe, located in southeast Louisiana, a delta region that is facing among deltas the most rapid rate of land loss and relative sea level rise in the world. The chapter aims to demonstrate that current vulnerability to climate change and other environmental hazards cannot be understood just as physical processes, but must be considered within a socio-historical context that has masked Indigenous communities since the economic colonization process began. It is not about one event or disaster, but the accumulation of multiple layered disasters and institutional and systemic violence. Communities in the region are employing a vast range of adaptation strategies to stay in place, but in the case of Isle de Jean Charles, after many years of addressing the layers of systemic violence and land loss, the Tribal Council has recognized they are out of options for in-situ adaptation. The Council has prioritized the need to maintain the Tribe’s community and culture, and in order to do so means resettling together in a new location. This chapter will discuss the challenges and opportunities they have experienced as well as skills gained in working towards proactive community-led resettlement to be an exemplar model of finding a new site of their choosing to sustain their community, bringing people who have already been forced apart back together, maintaining their family blood line connections as a sovereign Tribe, and reinvigorating their way of life.

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