posted on Nov, 1 2010 @ 02:55 PM
BP oil spill taking toll on Louisiana Indian tribe
American Indians (Native Americans, if you wish) make up the smallest percentage of the American
. Because of this, they are often
ignored by the MSM. It is because of this that I'm making this thread, to show the effects of the disaster that isn't being reported by the
The effects of the BP oil spill on the Pointe-au-Chien Indian tribe’s economy has been devastating. The Louisiana tribe gets a large portion of
their income from the summer fishing season, which was lost to oil and a fearful market this year. “If you take a percentage of the tribe, then
maybe 25 percent of the tribe, their sole income is this time of the year,” said the tribe’s chief, Chuckie Verdin, 53. “This year’s fishing
is just about over. We only got about another month. Then it’ll be just a long way through the winter months,” Verdin said. The small,
French-speaking tribe of roughly 682 people lives along the Bayou Pointe-au-Chien in southern Louisiana. Although they have a history of hunting and
agriculture, today their economy relies primarily on fishing—a change they attribute in part to the land’s devastation by oil companies, according
to their website.
With their main form of income gone, these people are in for a long, hard winter. The fishing ban and concern over contaminated sea food are having a
devastating effect on their economy. Another thing that concerns me is that because of the contamination, they might experience food shortages, since
the sea food has been found to be contaminated and they were unable to keep any for their own use.
Contamination tests on local shellfish and soil from the local waters showed high levels of toxins. Verdin investigated the issue with Lower
Mississippi River Keeper Paul Orr, from the Water Keeper Alliance, the organization that found the infamous “Dead Bird Island,” a video that can
be seen on YouTube where dead and dying birds litter the ground. In one particular location—an oyster bed that Verdin led the team to—oil could
not be seen or smelled, but tests showed high levels of polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) carcinogenic contaminants that carry the fingerprint
of the BP oil spill. Wilma Subra, an award-winning chemist who conducted the tests, told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview that, “We did find
it in large quantities in the soil sediment, as well as in vegetation and organisms—oysters and some in the crabs.” She added that other
contaminants were also found, and “we’re not talking parts-per-million or parts-per-billion. ... It was there in substantial concentrations.”
The fishing ban has been lifted
but they're not out of the woods,
yet. Even if they did make a huge catch, they would have a hard time selling it. Plants that process fish and sea food don't want fish from
Louisiana. The price for seafood from that area has taken a nose-dive due to lowered demand.
“Some of those processors, especially some of those processors from out of state, they don’t even want those fish from over here,” Verdin
said. “The catch has been good, but now you just can hardly sell it.” “Especially for the oyster business, it has not come back. They opened up
the oysters, but nobody want to buy no oysters at all,” he said. Even if fishermen can sell their catch, the lowered demand has lowered what people
are willing to pay. Verdin noted that many members of the tribe don’t bother to fish because the cost of fuel and the expense of going out rival the
payment they’ll receive once they get back.
The tribe's website
says that if they were able to become federally recognized, it would be easier for them to
get help in dealing with the effects of the disaster. They have been recognized by the state of Louisiana but have never had a treaty or formal
relationship with the federal government, so I don't see that happening any time soon.
Right now, the current situation is bearable for many members of the tribe. Their main concern is what next year's catch will bring.
For many members of the tribe, the current situation is bearable, but the main concern is how the oil spill will affect next year’s catch.
“There’s a lot of talk about that,” said Russell Dardar, 42. Dardar is a crab and oyster fisherman, but hasn’t sold a catch since the
beginning of July. His wife is working two jobs to help support their two children. Fishing wasn’t just the bulk of the tribes income. It was also
one of their main sources of food. “Most of us not eatin’ it,” Dardar said. “We all worried about getting sick with this stuff. We don’t
know yet, but we decided to wait a little while.”
Dardar's family used to eat crab two to three times a week, and seafood was part of their daily diet. “We still have some we kept in the
freezers,” Dardar said, adding they’ve eaten their frozen food sparingly.
I wish these people luck in the coming years. With their primary source of income all but gone and the safety of their main source of food in doubt,
they're going to need all the help they can get.