January 01, 2020

Tribal Recognition, Consultation, and Lessons from the First Climate Relocation

Adam C. Crepelle

News outlets across the United States flocked to the Isle de Jean Charles (IDJC), Louisiana, in 2016 and declared the island’s inhabitants the United States’ first climate refugees. Located along Louisiana’s coast, the IDJC is a textbook case on the impact of rising seas and coastal erosion. The IDJC had a land mass of over 22,000 acres in 1955. Presently, the IDJC’s land mass is barely 300 acres. Tremendous land loss combined with recent disasters like hurricanes and the BP oil spill made the IDJC community a prime candidate for a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development National Disaster Resilience Competition grant. Media coverage focused on the environmental issues at the IDJC, but completely overlooked the United States and the state of Louisiana’s gross failures in the tribal consultation process.

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