In “Voices from the Wetlands,” veteran reporter Georgianne Nienaber gives a first-hand account of the damage wrecked by the BP oil well disaster on the Louisiana Delta and on the people whose families have lived there for centuries.
The first report, “Death is Stalking Us on the Gulf,” tells of the Atakapa-Ishak people’s attempts to cling to their traditional ways in the southern Louisiana village of Grand Bayou, which is accessible only by water. As spokeswoman Rosina Philippe reports, her people have inhabited this rich marshland for 15,000 years or more, but may now lose their independent way of living in the massive oil spill ruins the fishing grounds that supply their sustenance. Not only a place to live, but a sacred bond with the land and its waterways are in jeopardy.
In the second story, “When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues,” Delta bluesman Tab Benoit tells of the parallel struggles of his people, the Cajuns, to keep their culture and livelihoods intact in the face of job losses and ecological damage from the oil spill disaster. Benoit uses his fame as a Grammy-winning musician to rally his fellow Delta blues and Zydeco musicians to financially and emotionally support the people of Terrebonne Parish through performances, recordings, and benefits.
In recent years, Nienaber’s reports on the ongoing genocide in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the largely unreported aftermath of Haiti’s recent earthquake, and now here with a people-eye view of the Gulf oil spill have appeared in the LA Progressive, Huffington Post, OpEdNews, and elsewhere. As always, in “Voices from the Wetlands” Nienaber gives a seldom-reported look at the people most affected by headline-grabbing events, told with telling detail and accompanied by numerous photographs.
Published by the LA Progressive, the 45-page “Voice from the Wetlands” is available for $8 in PDF form. Proceeds will benefit citizen journalism such as Georgianne’s at the LA Progressive. Later, we may make the book available through Amazon and Apple stores.