Video: Gulf of Mexico oil spill threatens Atakapa-Ishak Tribe

"In the town of Grand Bayou, Lousiana, the main thoroughfare is the water.

There are no streets, no cars. Everyone gets around by boat.

Just recovered from Hurricane Katrina, the oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon well now threatens this community.

SOUNDBITE: Rosina Philippe, Atakapa-Ishak Tribe

“Well this is the Grand Bayou Village and we are a subsistence community. We have been here for centuries. And we live here. We make our living from the harvest of the waterways and this is also where we get our food that we eat.”

Rosina Philippe is Atakapa-Ishak, a Native American tribe. Like others, it is not recognized by the federal government.

For decades, the Atakapa and other native groups here have adapted to the loss of wetlands, the encroachment of the oil and gas industry, and hurricanes.

But the latest spill could be the final straw. Fishing and shrimping is at a standstill, and the oil keeps creeping into the marshes.

SOUNDBITE: Maurice Phillips, Atakapa-Ishak Tribe

“I can’t even think about leaving it. And the way the economy is, where are you going to go and live?”

The largest oil spill in U.S. history is killing wildlife, contaminating beaches and marshes, closing fishing waters and… threatening an entire way of life."

Get the Story:
Oil Spill Threatens Native American "Water" Village (National Geographic 6/8)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Louisiana tribes sound alarm on Gulf's oil disaster (6/4)
NRDC: Oil spill in Gulf of Mexico threatens tribes in Louisiana (6/2)
Director of MMS resigns in response to Gulf oil spill disaster (5/28)
Editorial: Obama resolves concerns about who's 'in charge' (5/28)
Interior to cancel off-shore drilling projects in Arctic Ocean (5/27)
Investigation turns up more problems at oil royalty agency (5/26)
Editorial: Withhold off-shore drilling leases in Arctic Ocean (5/26)
MMS official in charge of offshore drilling to retire on May 31 (05/18)
Alaska Native village concerned about offshore development (5/17)
Editorial: Putting off shore drilling in Alaska on hold for now (5/12)
Interior plans to create separate royalty collection agency (5/12)
Column: Bad history for oil agency at Interior Department (5/10)
Johnny Flynn: Oil development one of the most dangerous (5/6)
Obama calls oil spill in Gulf of Mexico a 'massive' disaster (5/3)
DOI delays decision on off-shore drilling in Alaska (11/20)
Offshore drilling allowed in Native whaling area (10/20)