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Gullah/Geechee: Slave Descendants’ Culture In Danger

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The Gullah/Geechee Nation–a group of people whose ancestors were slaves brought over to sea islands and the Southeast coast–have made it a priority to preserve their heritage over the years. In 2000, they officially became an internationally-recognized nation and elected a queen, Queen Quet (Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation). Now, they are battling a hefty tax hike caused by wealthy property buyers, and this extraordinary culture is in real danger of being lost.

Cornelia Bailey says her tax bill went from $800 to $3,000, despite the fact that her home on Sapela Island has no schools, no sanitation services, no law enforcement, and only one paved road. Coastal development, however, is threatening the people who have lived there for centuries.

The group–known as Gullah in the Carolinas and Geechee in Georgia and Florida–make their homes from Jacksonville, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida and are actually celebrating Heritage Month in October. A portion of the nation’s website states their goals as a people, which includes preserving their heritage.

“WE will preserve, maintain, and reclaim ALL elements of our homeland which will FOREVER be our base of existence as we carry out these goals. With these goals in mind, Gullah/Geechee people take formal recognition of their nation and their human right to self-determination within the context of their minority governance rights, and thereby, the Gullah/Geechee Nation Wisdom Circle Council of Elders, by its hands, spirit and soul undertakes the task of creating and ratifying the first Constitution of the Gullah/Geechee Nation,” the site says.

Image: Gullah/Geechee Nation

Gullah/Geechee: Slave Descendants’ Culture In Danger
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  • http://att.net mike

    Culture? Seriously? What culture? Those people were raped, humiliated beaten and tortured just for fun. Are they really saying they want these traditions to continue? Really?

    • anita

      mike, your sentiment and assessment is valid but I don’t think they are referring to the culture they were forced to embraced once they arrived here from Africa. They are referring to their original culture, from Africa, that they have done a remarkable job of preserving.

  • Mark

    This is a culture just like the native american culture. Slaves who broke away and colonized on the Atlantic coastal areas. They have developed a unique culture and rightfully should be preserved. I’d like to know why they are taxed if they receive no community serices. What are these taxes for? Just sounds like big business of realty barging in and trying to take over prime coastal property. It would be a travesty for this culture to be forced out.

    • Mark Lane

      So have the “High Tiders” of the Outer Banks but, they are not entitled to claim to be a “nation”. They are Americans if they do not wish to be Americans, go back to the nation that sold you into slavery….Africa.

  • Mark Lane

    I noticed on their map these Gullah Geechee claim parts of the North Carolina Cafe Fear River basin….WRONG! There are none here. I live there. You act as if you are entitled to some national status like the “native American tribes or something….you are entitled to nothing more than anyone else and to claim to be a “nation” is treason!

  • Mark Lane

    I noticed on their map these Gullah Geechee claim parts of the North Carolina Cafe Fear River basin….WRONG! There are none here. I live there. You act as if you are entitled to some national status like the “native American tribes or something….you are entitled to nothing more than anyone else and to claim to be a “nation” is treason!

  • Heck

    Heck, slavery still exists in the south — it is called prison. One in every 13 people in Georgia are in jail, on parole, or on probation and the state’s largest employer is the Department of Corrections. Add in all the federal dollars the states receive and all the profit from their 23 industrial plants then add in all the money from fines and fees — well you then start to understand what is going on. Even if a person is not sent to prison, the arrest rate in Georgia is 2.5 times higher than most states in the nation.

    Lets put it in perspective: the US has less than 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s prisoners and Georgia’s incarceration rate is 2.5 times higher than any other state. So essentially, if you live in Georgia, you live in the worst place in world as far as law enforcement goes.

    The whole southeast existed because of slavery and even in 2013 the attitude is the same.