Bayou lifestyle jeopardized

The small fishing village relies completely on the water and marshes surrounding them to sustain their community and economy.

After the millions of barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, the tribe’s people have been concerned that the seafood is not safe enough to sell to the public or to feed to their families.

 The people of the Bayou travel only by boat; streets are nonexistent. The tribe follows in the footsteps of their ancestors by “fishing, shrimping, oystering, crabbing and trapping” reports National Public Radio.

 According to NPR’s radio show “Living on Earth,” before Hurricane Katrina, the Grand Bayou Village consisted of 23 extended families, only nine of which returned post-disaster.

 “Grand Bayou for us is our place in the universe,” said tribe spokeswoman Rosina Philippe to NPR. “This is where, since time began, the Creator saw fit to set our feet here. And we’re going to do whatever we have to do to remain.”

 These nine families are determined to stay but are uncertain whether they will be able to maintain their lifestyle. 

 The impact of the BP oil spill is more poignant for the tribe than natural disasters they have faced in the past.

 “Nature, you can’t control,” said Ruby Ancar, member of the Atakapa-Ishak tribe to National Geographic. “You can’t control a hurricane. You can’t control a tornado. But when you have things that are manmade, that destroys a person’s life or an entire village or an entire community… that’s uncalled for.”

 The Bayou tribe’s dilemma is just one string in the knot that BP’s oil tragedy has left the world to untangle.        

 “We are all creating the problem, not just the oil companies,” said Joe Cole, visiting assistant professor of philosophy, in an e-mail interview. “It’s easy to demonize them because they are so powerful and profit so much from the fossil fuel’s economy, but most of us make choices every day to support them and empower them… We need to build cooperative, sustainable institutions that put people, community and environment first.”

Americans have seen short-term effects, like the loss and endangerment of wildlife, but we have yet to witness the long-term impact to the surrounding inhabitants, their environment, and the Earth as a whole.

 For Grand Bayou people, relocation is not an option.

 “We are who we are because of where we are,” said Philippe to NPR. “We are Grand Bayou people, and you can’t be a Grand Bayou person if you’re living in Ohio.”