Oral History

Family

Father, Wenceslaus, and son, Boyo Billiot enjoying an afternoon on Isle de Jean Charles

Naming Ceremony

Chief Albert Naquin during a naming ceremony for members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw

Play

Tristan enjoying an afternoon playing football with cousins on the Island. 

Field Work

Why are oral histories important?

  

  

History is formed by stories. To gain a complex historical perspective of the world one must observe the layers created in the documenting and the telling of stories from different contributors. 


In the bayous of Louisiana lies the small tribal community of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native Americans whose ancestral home on Isle de Jean Charles is vanishing. “The Island,” as the Tribe calls it, was once 22,000 acres, is now only 320 acres and in some places only a quarter of a mile wide. 


The Tribe has earned notoriety as the first climate refugees in the lower 48 states. My research combines oral histories with archival documentation, which not only gives this community a voice but also serves to increase global competence and awareness on the issue of climate change and its effects on Louisiana communities. However, it is not just climate change that has affected the land and the tribe. 

Video: Flooding of Island Road

This is a video demonstrating the flooding that happens when there is a strong wind from the South. This has caused many tribal members to have to leave the Island since this is the only way on or off except by boat.

Video: Sharing of Food and Song

This video shows a a song from Myeengun Henry from Thames First Nation.  Terrylynn, from Mohawk Seedkeeper Farm is buring sage to purify the  space. The visit was part of a solidarity journey created by Stephen  Svenson, who brought his college students with him. The purpose was to  share, collaborate and learn about the differences and similarities they  are both facing.