Resettlement as a Resilience Strategy

This document provides background information and guidance to Louisiana’s state and local governments on the retreat and resettlement process, and outlines the strategy for the ongoing resettlement of the Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native American community. As sea level rise and land loss threaten Louisiana’s low-lying regions, coastal communities must consider the costs and benefits of retreat and resettlement. The report provides a history of resettlement in the United States and makes the case that the resettlement of Isle de Jean Charles is just the beginning of more resettlement projects in the region. Therefore, it should be closely watched for important lessons. 

The report describes the planning and implementation process around resettlement, emphasizing the importance of direct and frequent stakeholder engagement in both retreat and receiving communities. The resettling community and supporting organizations must develop a shared vision, identify risks in the planning process, and continuously reevaluate the resettlement for completeness, correctness and quality. A critical consideration in the process is the size of community that will be resettled; this could range from a cluster of extended family members to a small town or city.  

The Isle de Jean Charles Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native American community faces inevitable resettlement due to loss of 98% of their land. The Lowlander Center, who authored this report, is the coordinating lead for the resettlement plan and for ensuring the project is funded. The report describes the actions they have already taken and outlines their plans for next steps.  To maintain traditional livelihood and cultural practices, the Tribe and planning team are evaluating locations nearby to the original site for their safety and suitability. With reduced access to the bays, the Tribe must in turn reduce its dependency on seafood harvesting and evaluate new employment opportunities toward economic self-sufficiency. Resources of cultural importance, such as the palmetto tree, will be incorporated into the new site design.

The report closes with information about funding the resettlement - that is contingent upon an award from the HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition that will cover around 65% of the total project costs - and outlines a range of additional funding sources that would be sufficient to cover the remaining costs. 

 

Publication Date: October 27, 2015

Related Organizations:

  • Lowlander Center

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  • Case study
  • Plans (other)
  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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