All photos © Stacy Kranitz.
Over the last six years, Los Angeles-based photographer Stacy Kranitz has been working on a personal project about the Native American community living on the disappearing Isle de Jean Charles in the Louisiana bayous. Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians first bought land here in 1876. Because of its close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and the disruption of the Mississippi River levees (built in the Sixties) the island has been slowly eaten away by the Gulf’s saltwater. The land is a fourth the size it was when its oldest residents were children. Oil pipelines began unearthing the land in the early-Nineties and erosion of the island has since accelerated due to the gulf oil spill coating nearby vegetation with crude and chemical dispersants. Less than 60 water-damaged houses remain on the island and more than half of them are empty. The road that leads to the island disappears underwater during storms.
Kranitz explains, “Some of the residents I have photographed have left. There have been four major hurricanes that have devastated the gulf coast during the last six years (Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike). The population has dwindled substantially during this period. I have seen houses blown away, abandoned and deteriorated into uninhabitable dwellings.”
Kranitz is currently working on an installation that includes a model she built of the island along with sound, video and drawings. She hopes to show the work first in Louisiana. The project is a work in progress as long as the Island is inhabited, for a projected 15 to 50 years.
Island Road is the only road connecting Isle de Jean Charles with the rest of Louisiana. The island is disappearing into the Gulf of Mexico. In the past few years, the gravel that holds the 3-mile road above sea level has slowly eroded into the saltwater and created jagged edges that leave only one lane.
Two boys work to mend a chicken coop in their yard.
Dead fish line the road leading to the island as the water recedes back into the gulf.
Hilton Chaisson has raised 12 kids in the house he stands in front of. He lives on the island with his wife, his girlfriend, three of his children and five of his grandchildren. His sister Rose lives next store.
Mark Naquin plays Hank Williams songs on the porch of his home.
Dilapidated and abandoned objects discarded after storms.