"GOLDEN MEADOW, La. -- 'Every morning is like Christmas morning' during shrimping season, says Whitney Dardar, 73, a Houma Indian who loves fishing in the bayous of southwestern Louisiana as his forebears have done for two centuries.
The Houma and several other tribes, which are recognized by the state but not the federal government, settled in the outer fringes of Louisiana in the early 1800s, fleeing other hostile tribes and U.S. military forces farther north.
Now, the tribes are losing their land again -- this time to the Gulf of Mexico, as thousands of acres of wetlands vanish each year, hurricanes do increasing damage without these marshy buffers, and saltwater intrudes into the bayou water and soil. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that up to 40 square miles of Louisiana wetlands disappear annually and that by 2040 the state's coastline will have receded more than 30 miles."