Queen Quet: Queen of Islands and Water Champion
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation was homegrown on historic St. Helena Island, SC steeped in Gullah/Geechee cultural traditions with her family there and on neighboring Polowana and Dataw Islands. To even get to these two smaller islands from St. Helena one had to have and be able to navigate a bateau boat at one point. Once the causeway was built, that didn’t change during what was then called “spring tides” or during the rising waters and winds of hurricanes. Those tides are now called “king tides” throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation and that king has dethrowned cotton. Aaah, but this king now has an elected Queen that is facing him and the other members of his climate changing and environmentally impacting family head on-Queen Quet!
Among the many titles and accolades that you can read about Queen Quet at www.QueenQuet.com, on her LinkedIn page and in the thousands of news stories online, you will find “environmentalist” and “environmental justice advocate”. She has been a fellow with the Audubon due to the creation of her program entitled, “Gullah/Geechee SEA & ME” in which SEA stands for “Saving Environmental Actions” and ME stands for “Marine Environment.” This program came to be supported by the US Fish and Wildlife Agency that partnered with the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition and the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank that Queen Quet founded to insure it would be an on-going program in the southeast. She has spoken for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. She was invited by United States President Barak Obama to two different White House Conferences focused on the great outdoors and conservation.
Queen Quet has also been donned a “hero” when her photo was hung on the walls of the Wildness Society during the same time that she won the regional and national Jefferson Award for Community Service and when Oceana presented her with the Oceans Hero Award. These things all took place in Washington, DC. Queen Quet was just recently awarded the honor of returning to Capitol Hill to be a witness before the United States Congress at the House of Representatives Department of Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Oceans, and Wildlife.
The testimony that Queen Quet provided during a panel entitled “Healthy Oceans and Healthy Economies: The State of Our Oceans in the 21st Century” was punctuated by the testimonies of four other women that live on and fight for coastal areas. They were featured on “Now This” news in this piece: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eU6BpNg1s4
Interestingly enough, this panel was spiritually linked to the water in that there were five of them and in the Yoruba tradition, five is the number of Oshun. Oshun is a goddess that reflects that manifestations of GOD by being the one that loves sweet fresh waters and is the goddess of love and rivers. Also, the goddess Yemoja was represented in that the entire panel consisted of seven people which is her number. She is the goddess of the oceans and the seas. Coupled with this energy that was flowing through the Congressional space was Queen Quet invoking the words of the Gullah/Geechee Spiritual “Wade in the Water.” She also used several Gullah/Geechee sea related proverbs to infuse the wisdom of her ancestors into the normally scientifically and statistically dominated discussion of climate change:
This journey that took Queen Quet up The Hill will continue across the world to various island nations as she continues on her annual world tour. This year the theme of the tour is “Healin de Land.” This fundraising and awareness journey is done in order to accurately educate the world about the Gullah/Geechee Nation and to raise money for the Gullah/Geechee Land Legacy Fund:
While Queen Quet flies to various places, people in the UK are already getting an opportunity to learn the information that she shares on a Martin Clunes series called “Islands of America.“
The series will likely air in the US during the fall while Queen Quet continues the journey.
Queen Quet will be engaging with communities in Bermuda as she keynotes for the International Conference of National Trusts there and in Barbados as she and her co-founder of the Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival™, Kwame Sha take a delegation to Barbados this year. All of these islands are dealing with the fallouts and recovery efforts from the hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding that they have endured for generations. They not only want to link in celebrations of cultural heritage, but to engage in partnering on programs and plans of resilience to insure their cultures continue on their islands. Queen Quet has spent the major part of her life working to champion that cause for the Sea Islands of the Gullah/Geechee Nation from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL. As noted, she does this whether she is standing on the shores of the Lowcountry or going up The Hill or amidst other global actors at the United Nations and the Global Climate Action Summit.
At both the Global Climate Action Summit and the Congressional hearing, Queen Quet provided acronyms for the work that is ahead. She let the Congress know that she had made the journey from her beloved islands to be a part of
in regard to how to combat the various negative impacts that climate change and environmental degradation are having on the waters of the world especially our oceans and to assist them in learning from the native people of these coastal communities how to insure the continued existence of their cultural heritage in these unique and sacred places.
Queen Quet‘s introduction done by Congressman Joe Cunningham who is standing with the Gullah/Geechee Nation in fighting against oil drilling and Queen Quet‘s testimony received the only applause throughout the hearing. Applause do not normally find their way into those chambers. However, putting hands together to clap are always a part of the spiritual and forward movement of native Gullah/Geechees. Their polyrhythms require the unification of the hands in syncopated rhythm. If it is up to Queen Quet, she will no doubt get those engaged in work to heal and protect the world’s waters moving in syncopation and shoutin pun a shore wid her!
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