As part of the Cecilia Vicuña: About to Happen exhibition, the CAC will screen Can’t Stop the Water—the story of Isle de Jean Charles, Louisiana and the Native American community fighting to save its culture as its land washes away.
For 170 years, a tribe of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians has occupied Isle de Jean Charles, an island deep in the Louisiana bayous. They have fished, hunted, and lived off the land. Now the land that has sustained them for generations is vanishing before their eyes. Years of gas and oil exploration have ravaged the surrounding marsh, leaving the island defenseless against the ocean tide that will eventually destroy it. As Chief Albert Naquin desperately looks for a way to bring his tribe together on higher ground, those that remain on the island cling to the hope that they can stay.
Behind Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill, there is a much larger, more devastating problem: the loss of thousands of miles of marshlands protecting the Gulf Coast. Southeast Louisiana is the fastest disappearing landmass on earth. As its fertile lands are destroyed, America is losing one of its most extraordinary regions.
No community has been hit harder than Isle de Jean Charles. Home to a once thriving community of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians, the population of this tight-knit community is now dwindling as the marsh erodes. A government-funded levee system built close enough to be seen from shore teases the residents who desperately need it extended for their protection from the hostile storms that are increasingly exacerbated by climate change. This leaves the island defenseless against the ocean tide that will eventually destroy it. As each new storm destroys more homes, families are forced to move to higher ground, breaking up the cultural cohesion of the tribe.
Award-winning filmmakers Rebecca Marshall Ferris, Jason Ferris, and Kathleen Ledet began documenting life on Isle de Jean Charles in January 2010, and spent three years immersed in the lives and daily dramas that call this place home. The result is an intimate portrait of a community persevering in the face of an uncertain future. At what point will they finally be forced off their sacred land? And at what point will other coastal communities realize that they are the next to be washed away?