August 9th commemorates the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. It is celebrated around the world and marks the date of the inaugural session of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations at the United Nations in 1982. The Gullah/Geechee Nation celebrates this day annually due to the fact that their culture is indigenous to the Sea Islands where it grew from the soils of that land. Also, many Gullah/Geechees are descendants of Africans and indigenous people.
As the Gullah/Geechee Diaspora got created, some of their people became known as “Seminole” and “Muscogo.” They have had numerous reunions to celebrate their shared language and continuation of their existence. They have also had to continue to fight the political agendas set by the United States and Mexico regarding their transnational identity. These stresses have now been compounded by the global pandemic.
The 2020 theme for the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples is COVID-19 and indigenous peoples’ resilience. The aim is to highlight how the preservation and promotion of indigenous peoples’ traditional knowledge and practices can be leveraged more fully during this pandemic. The leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation have been focusing on the continuation of their culture and are promoting the traditional knowledge and practices via numerous virtual events as the #GullahGeechee2020 celebration continues. On August 9th, people are encourage to not only participate in the United Nations virtual events beginning with the opening address
To insure the continued health and safety of the Gullah/Geechee, Queen Quet has been working with Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank members, United Nations partners, and members supporters of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition to continue to not only provide medically sound information to the citizens of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, but to also provide masks, hand sanitizer, and COVID-19 informational materials at food distribution activities and to fishermen and farmers throughout the pandemic. Most of all, the leaders of the Gullah/Geechee Nation have celebrated the return to working the land and harvesting from the sea locally. They encourage traditional knowledge practices that maintain the health of the overall community. Disya ting bin keep we ancestas ya and e gwine keep we tru all a wha da gwine on. So, even in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the Gullah/Geechee Nation is celebrating the resiliency that is a major aspect of their indigeneity.