On Southern Tip of Louisiana, Climate Change and Coastal Erosion Hit Home
For those of you who do not know already, this year has been a journey of learning and becoming aware. This journey began years ago, when my adopted Dad went on an expedition and came back trying to educate people, including his bosses at Shell, as to what damage the oil industry was causing to the Continental Shelf. This harm would not be stopped or slowed until change was brought about. Little did I know how close to home this would hit for me.
I am a member of a small Native American community, Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians. Our tribal community is located at the most southern tip of coastal Louisiana, where the land ends and water begins. It is here that one gets a first hand view of what we are doing to Mother Earth and the people who inhabit it. It is here that one sees first hand that global warming is very real and rapidly increasing. My people, like many other Native American communities and reservations are the ones who seem to be most effected by modern man's quest for more. Our once pristine lands are being polluted, lands that we have long been lovingly caring for as is our responsibility given to us from the Great Spirit, the creator.
By spending the year learning and exploring with members of our tribe and our sister tribes and working with agencies such as the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with the support of Kristina Peterson from University of New Orleans Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology (UNO-CHART), I began to see the truth up close and personal of what not only is and will effect the world at large, but how critical a time we are in. I began to see what the consequences of inaction will mean not only for my children and grand children in their lifetimes but for what the generations yet to be born will have to face. As a parent, I would not give my child something that is not good for them, much less something that would be toxic. Yet in the world as we know it today, that is exactly what is happening, whether one chooses to be aware of it or not.
Global warming and coastal erosion are very real. If you think they do not effect you, you are sadly mistaken.
Toxic effects are being reported around the country and I encourage you to learn for yourself and see what the Great Spirit of all things puts on your heart. After meeting with Angela Monti Fox at a round table discussion with other Mothers and Grandmothers and hearing stories from across the Gulf Coast, stories of toxic environments that are quickly becoming the reality for their people, I now know my community is not alone.
I got back home and watched "Gasland" on Netflix and saw the undeniable evidence and the connections between all of our communities. I realized one really has no choice but to take action and demand something better. Any logical person can come to the conclusion that we do not know the whole story yet regarding the effects of the BP disaster and the Corexit used to sink the oil. If you do not live along the Gulf, think about wildfires on the west coast, how NOAA is able to track the smoke from them as it travels across the United States. If they can see that on radar, I am pretty sure they know how far and wide the Corexit traveled. Keep in mind also that all water is connected, not above the ground but beneath it, if one water is contaminated....well you should get the picture.
Kelly "Babs" Bagwell is a mother, grandmother, activist and advocate for Mother Earth. She is the Senior Public Relations/Media Liaison for the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians. Babs, who calls Isle de Jean Charles home, was raised in Louisiana and now splits her time between Louisiana and Mississippi due to her husband's job. Raised spending time across the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Alabama, she now travels and explores coastal areas effected by global warming, coastal erosion, and toxic pollutants. A lover of nature, photography, and writing, she uses the tools she has to spread awareness.