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First Peoples Conservation Council multiple tribal organization for cultural and environmental sustainability

Rosina Philippe, Elder, Grand Bayou; Theresa Dardar, Elder, Pointe au Chien; and Shirell Parfait-Dardar, Elder, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians

Rosina Philippe, Elder, Grand Bayou


Theresa Dardar, Elder, Pointe au Chien


Shirell Parfait-Dardar, Elder, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians


Devon Parfait, Chief, Grand Caillou/Dulac Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians

Innovation and Description: First Peoples Conservation Council (fpcclouisiana.org)

The respective Tribes that are collectively known as ‘First People’s Conservation Council,’ are relatively small in membership numbers. This could sometimes be a factor in considering what activities the individual Tribes could engage in and/or how long they would be able to commit people and resources; especially when processes of engagement with other non-tribal entities are drawn out over a period of time. Lacking large populations, smaller Tribes can be viewed as easy ‘prey’  to other, better resourced entities seeking to push certain initiative agendas. The seeming disproportion in the size (often reflected in the “power” construct) can sometimes leave the smaller less-resourced Tribal communities feeling disadvantaged, isolated, and alone in their struggles.

First People’s Conservation Council, as a collective, serves immediately by the increase in the numbers of Tribal people coming and working together in solidarity; increasing by numbers a most valuable resource…our Indigenous voices and energies. The First People’s council allows for the expression of other ideas, perspectives, and energies to be utilized in addressing our individual and collective Tribal concerns. Not only is there a physical increase in the number of people, but just as important is the addition of knowledges, wisdom, and expertise. The First People’s Council ensures that concerns are now viewed with the possibility of being resolved in our (Tribal community) favor. We are no longer alone; First People’s Council brings us together in solidarity.

Other Participants:

Albert Naquin, JR Naquin, Donald Dardar, Ladonna Sylve’, Maurice Phillips, Danny D. Phillips, Carmalita R. Sylve’, Cheri’ L. Ancar.

Primary Disaster Justice Benefits:

The First People’s Conservation Council has added to the Tribes a sense of legitimacy — not from our perspective, as we consider and work with each other as Sister Tribes) — but this is a view directed toward the Tribes by non-tribal entities as they begin to view who we are and what we have to contribute to the overall nexus of works we are engaged in via the “collective”, the  “First People’s Conservation Council.”  Individual Tribes, on their own, were less likely to receive the level of co-operation granted to the Council’s collective of tribes, primarily due to the perceived stability of the Council and its organizational structure.  The First People’s Council is perceived to be more in line with the status quo of how things are done, reflecting the stability of the organizational structure per se, where considerations of possible outcomes of engagements or investments are being weighed.

Maintaining ‘First People’s Conservation Council’ first, is to benefit the tribes in our pursuit to maintain our Indigenous integrity as we continue to live in a world that, through its own ignorance, has failed to acknowledge our continuous presence and contributions. Today, First People’s…also serves as a vehicle that drives home a Truth that we, the Indigenous, have vital and viable information to contribute to the continuation of life here on this planet. We understand the finite, especially as it applies to Mother Earth’s resources and our own existence. We also speak to the processes and practices of modern entities, that erect systems that are not only a drain on today’s resources, but if allowed to continue unchecked, will bereft future populations and cause irreparable harm to all. First People’s along with other visionary people and entities advocates for policies and practices that will continue to serve…”The Greater Good”…acknowledging that our life’s energies of today and our knowledges must be utilized in laying a solid and stable foundation for the future. First People’s embraces the mandates of our stewardship.

Secondary Disaster Justice Benefits:

When ‘First Peoples’ was birthed, we were infants engaged in a sort of mimicry of practices, we learned from our mother, the Lowlander Center, (all to our good). You may have heard the old adage…you have to crawl before you walk…well its true. As individual tribes, we knew about ourselves and our envisioned hopes and dreams for the future. What we did not know, was how to incorporate and combine not only the similarities of beliefs and practices from other tribes, but how to include and embrace the differences of other Tribe’s beliefs and practices. Even though by belief and practice our lifeways are somewhat homogeneous, we learned that we must acknowledge individualities and create a safe space that allows for inclusion and understanding, respecting each other’s differences. Today, that acknowledgement has grown to include other non-indigenous groups, that by vision and practice are engaged in similar and sometimes parallel works.

Would you recommend others (disaster survivors, disaster-impacted communities) learn more about the activity, project or program to consider adoption of a similar one?

Don’t be afraid to grow and to stretch your boundaries. Lay a foundation of stability that will persist in making a lasting contribution to the future; one that will continue to serve beyond your finite existence. Growth is important to meaningful engagement; as new and ofttimes compounded issues arise, we must equip ourselves with the tools to address those issues. We have learned both figuratively and actually, that tools and mechanisms of modernity when wielded and/or guided by ‘ancient hands’…aka wisdoms, can be effective. We reiterate that maintaining our Indigenous Integrity is vital to the healing of the planet, irrespective of what span of time and space we inhabit. Be fearless and relentless in your pursuits to right ‘wrongs’ and heal ‘wounds’, but not as a conqueror or usurper, come as a steward prepared to serve…even the ungrateful.