The road that leads to Isle de Jean Charles was once bordered entirely by land. For 170 years, a Native American Cajun community has occupied this tiny island deep in the bayous of South Louisiana. For these Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, their land is more than simply a place to live. It is the epicenter of their people and traditions. Here, for eight generations, their ancestors cultivated a unique part of Louisiana culture. Now the land that has sustained them is vanishing before their eyes. A host of environmental problems—coastal erosion, lack of soil renewal, oil company and government canals, and a rising sea level—are overwhelming the gradually shrinking island. With millions of gallons of oil polluting the waters surrounding the island, the livelihoods of many islanders—fishermen, shrimpers, and oystermen—have been halted. Those who vowed to stay on the island until it completely washed away now face an even more uncertain future. My wife, Rebecca, and I are here to film a documentary, to tell their story.
More about the film: www.cottagefilms.com
—Jason Ferris ’99
Photo: Jason Ferris