Film featuring a researcher’s oral history work with coastal residents

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine tapped Dr. Heather Stone of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for a role in its film project “In Times of Crisis: Stories from the Gulf of Mexico.”

“In Times of Crisis” will consist of three short films that illustrate how college and university researchers are partnering with coastal communities to prepare for – or recover from – crises. The approximately 10-minute films will premiere during a free live stream at noon on Tuesday, June 14. A webinar will follow which will include a discussion between a panel of academics and experts in disaster studies and community resilience.

Stone, an assistant professor at UL Lafayette’s College of Education, will be featured in the film “Isle of Memories: Stories of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw.” “Isle of Memories” is based on Stone’s six-year collaboration with the residents of Jean Charles Island, a small island in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. Members of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native American tribe call Jean Charles Island their home. almost 200 years.

This home, however, bears little resemblance to the 22,000-acre island where residents once hunted, trapped, fished and farmed. Since 1955, Isle de Jean Charles has shrunk to about 320 acres; Coastal erosion, storms and soil depletion caused by the dredging of oil and gas pipelines are the culprits.

The Oral History Collaborative Project is the framework for “Isle of Memories”. The film is about the people of Isle de Jean Charles and their desire to piece together a complete story of the island – a story built around their memories, stories and perspectives.

In the film, the locals discuss their ancestral home – and their struggle to retain their customs and identity as the island disappears. Many interviews were filmed on the Isle of Jean Charles, and at the residents.

The film, Stone explained, focuses on “the bonds the tribe and I formed, and how through those bonds I helped them collect oral histories, photographs, and maps to record their cultural history.” .

“It’s a real partnership, not an academic project led by a researcher. It’s me talking to people and asking them, ‘How can I help you?’ For me it’s about discovering: ‘What is important to you and why is it important?’ “, she added.

The other two films in “In Times of Crisis” reflect projects by researchers at the universities of Florida and southern Alabama. Port St. Joe, Florida, which was devastated by Hurricane Michael in 2018, is the subject of a film; the other focuses on Bayou La Batre, Alabama, and its struggles since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010.

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine provide expert guidance to meet international challenges and advance science, engineering, and medicine. The nonprofit organization in Washington, DC, was established in 1863.

Watch the free live stream of the “In Times of Crisis” premiere and webinar on the National Academies website.

Photo caption: Dr. Heather Stone (left) of UL Lafayette and Chief Albert Naquin of the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Native American Tribe will appear in a short film about her and the Tribal Members’ Oral History Project. The film will premiere at noon on Tuesday, June 14, via a free livestream. Photo credit: Doug Dugas / University of Louisiana at Lafayette

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