Oysters & Rescue Plans

Halle Parker/WWNO. Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe member Pete Lebeouf works with volunteers to load bags of oyster shells onto a boat on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

We have enjoyed every instance of oysters being treated with respect, beyond culinary. When indigenous knowhow is part of the story, even better. Our thanks to Halle Parker and WWNO (National Public Radio, USA) for this story:

Halle Parker/WWNO.  Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe citizens Patty Ferguson-Bohnee and Lori Stewart pass bags of oyster shell and pile it on a boat for transport during a volunteer event on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

A Louisiana tribe is losing cultural sites to coastal erosion. Oyster reefs could help.

For the past six years, the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe has battled to stop its historic earthen Indian mounds from slipping into the sea, looking to the power of oyster shells to protect them. Now, they’ve expanded that effort.

Halle Parker/WWNO. Volunteers boat down to Bernard’s Mound, one of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe’s historic mounds, to build a new oyster reef that will help slow erosion during an event on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

The tribe has lived in the area for centuries, forced south as Louisiana was colonized, and the mounds that past members built have a range of uses. Some might’ve held homes, others were used for ceremonies and some were burial sites, said Lori Stewart, a member of the tribe.

“The mounds are really significant because we do have some of our ancestors that are buried there, and so we don’t want to see that washed away,” she said. “That’s sacred to us.”

In late September, volunteers traveled down to the community of Pointe-aux-Chenes on the southern tip of Terrebonne Parish, prepared to transfer and stack 40-pound sacks of recycled oyster shells against the eroding bank of a complex of mounds.

This was just the first phase of a new 300-foot-long oyster reef planned next to mounds. By this time next year, the environmental nonprofit Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, or CRCL, aims to finish the reef with the tribe. The project will require the group to pile about 170 tons of oyster shells along the bank, said Darrah Bach, the nonprofit’s oyster shell recycling program manager.

Read the whole story here.

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