On the Louisiana Coast, an Indigenous Community Loses Homes to Climate Change
For the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, climate change has forced a permanent retreat inland
Chris Brunet points to the stumps of dead trees throughout his yard. “This whole place looked completely different when I was growing up,” he says. “There’s not much left now.”
Brunet’s house on Isle de Jean Charles, a shrinking sliver of an island 80 miles southwest of New Orleans, was surrounded by towering oaks before deadly saltwater encroached on the land. Today his trees—and most of his neighbors—are gone.
Brunet, age 55, is a member of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw, an Indigenous tribe that has lived on the island for more than two centuries. Since the 1950s the island has lost 98 percent of its land to subsidence and saltwater intrusion. Despite this loss and the dozens of hurricanes that have brought massive flooding throughout the decades, the tribe has always managed to rebuild and stay put.
Story includes an interview with Lowland Center Board President, Theresa Dardar, one of Common Counsel Foundation’s climate justice and Native-led nonprofit partners.