Friday, June 24, 2011

“We Were Never Strangers…”

Our trip to the Mississippi Delta comes to end as we prepare to travel back to Indiana but what a wealth of knowledge we acquired and  a greater understanding of fellow Natives here in Louisiana. We  were "off the grid" for a couple of days where we lacked internet access camping at Chicot State Park near Lafayette, LA. Luckily, we had a chance to bond with the high school students who were part of the METALS geology summer camp for under represented students from California, Louisiana and Texas. We visited Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, took a boat ride to the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal/Surge Barrier, learned about the geology of water sheds, took a swamp tour at Bayou Vermillion, and visited Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Pepper Sauce. All these sights raised our awareness of the depletion of wetlands in Louisiana and what important role it plays in our environment. It also brings to light the challenges we face for our future:  reliance upon oil and gas vs. the preservation of our environment.

What has been the most meaningful part of the trip was meeting fellow Natives from the Huoma Nation, Grand Bayou Village and Pointe-au-Chien Indian Community. They were all wonderful people who kindly shared their stories of survival and their plight as they look to the future. The common thread that connects them together with the rest of the Native community was their concern for the land and how they can maintain their ties to Mother Earth. Their home lands have been pushed to the edge but they continue to endure and show the true resilience of Native people. The best quote I heard was from Kirby Verret from the Huoma Nation, “we were never strangers but simply friends who haven’t met before!”

Felica Ahasteen-Bryant
Director, NAECC

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