BP Oil Spill Threatens Bayou Tribes

by Dennis Bernstein

For unlucky residents of the Gulf States, the BP oil-spill disaster, coming up on 100 days, could take another turn for the worst if one of the storms churning up tropical waters in the Atlantic Ocean blossoms into a full-blown hurricane and heads into the Gulf of Mexico.

For several already marginalized Native tribes living on the Louisiana Coast – many of them fishermen and shrimpers – a hurricane crashing through the oil-polluted Gulf now could destroy a way of life that has survived for centuries.

Already, the tribal land among the coastal bayous is disappearing faster than anywhere on the planet, the victim of unbridled oil exploration and dam building projects of the Army Corps of Engineers dating back to the 1930s.

“For us it’s more like a hundred years of oil disasters than a hundred days,” said Chief Charles Verdin of the Pointe au Chien tribe. “And really when you look at it … it’s business as usual. The tribes being ignored, forgotten, overlooked, and forced from their land.”

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