Gullah/Geechee Living Heritage and Sustaining Legacy on the Land

In America, the word “heritage” is often bantered about without a clear examination of its definition in English and the origin of what is being considered “heritage.” So, I thought it not robbery to take a journey into the etymology of this word for “Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Awareness Month.” A brief online examination of the Online Etymology Dictionary provides the following:

c. 1200, “that which may be inherited,” from Old French iritageeritageheritage “heir; inheritance, ancestral estate, heirloom,” from heriter “inherit,” from Late Latin hereditare, ultimately from Latin heres (genitive heredis) “heir” (see heredity). Meaning “condition or state transmitted from ancestors” is from 1620s.

“capable of being inherited, inheritable,” early 15c., from Old French heritable (c. 1200), from heriter “to inherit” (see heritage). The Medieval Latin word was hereditabilis. Related: Heritability.

From this the dictionary gets the following definititions:

“property that is or may be inherited; an inheritance”

  • valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions, unspoiled countryside, and historic buildings that have been passed down from previous generations
  • denoting a traditional brand or product regarded as emblematic of fine craftsmanship

ARCHAIC

a special or individual possession; an allotted portion:

ARCHAIC

Christians, or the ancient Israelites, seen as God’s chosen people.

I was immediately moved by seeing that my people got it right! “GOD’s chosen people who see their ancestral estates of properties transmitted from their ancestors to them as their inheritance are the traditionalists Gullah/Geechees that are working together to hold onto our inheritance and pass it down to our children’s children’s children.” WEBE people blessed by GAWD! WEBE Gullah/Geechee Anointed People!

Each July we celebrate “Gullah/Geechee Nation Appreciation Week” and each October we celebrate “Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Awareness Month” in order to enhance the global knowledge and awareness of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the language and other cultural traditions that our people still live. We also take these times to highlight the legacy that we have and continue to sustain on our land between Jacksonville, NC and Jacksonville, FL. This year, focusing on the land has become an even more critical point as groups that are receiving money as nonprofits that claim to work to help Gullah/Geechees with land and businesses are actually working with destructioneers to having zoning laws changed to help allow the building of gated areas and golf courses which not only are a leading factor in the displacement of Gullah/Geechee natives from the coast but these areas are also contributing to destruction of the environment. This environmental destruction is now causing the loss of many different seafood species including catfish and blue crabs and is thereby threatening the food security of the native Gullah/Geechees that rely on seafood as staples of our diet.

Our GullahGeechee ancestral blood cries out from beneath the soil as these types of Black people walk the earth and those that actually respect the ancestors hear the cries and continue to stand united to keep our people on the land. We realize that the greatest inheritance after GOD’s blessing and anointing is that of having our families safely together in a place on which they can not only still feed their bodies but also feed their souls. The latter is not necessary when you sell your soul to the first person that offers you and your organization a few dollars.

The place and space to which many have journeyed over the years and offered people opportunities to sell out their ancestors, their elders, and their loved ones is the epicenter of Gullah/Geechee culture-historic St. Helena Island, SC which you can learn about at www.SaintHelenaGullahGeechee.com . The St. Helena Island family stood up to protect the Cultural Protection Overlay District (CPO) of this island and their supporters came out by the thousands to support their effort to protect St. Helena from being destroyed by a gated area, golf course, museum and additional rapid infill destructionment (www.ProtectStHelena.com).

Beaufort County Planning Commission and Beaufort County Council continued to uphold and strengthen the CPO zoning after countless meetings about this matter that were held from December 2022 until June 2023. For their good work on behalf of the citizens that are their constituents, the county is now being sued in two different courts and a propaganda campaign is being used to attempt to confuse native Gullah/Geechees about the ultimate plan to dismantle the CPO so that St. Helena Island can join Hilton Head, Lady’s Island, Johns Island, Amelia Island, and many other locations in being places of Gullah/Geechee displacement. However, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition, Penn Center, Inc., the South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, the South Carolina Environmental Law Project, the Heyward Family and Mr. New are all continuing to stand up and fight for this sacred Gullah/Geechee land along side Beaufort County. The Cultural Protection Overlay District will remain intact and will continue to protect St. Helena Island for future generations of not only native Gullah/Geechees but also for those that want to come to a “safe space” to engage in a healthy environment while celebrating a historic indigenous and Black culture.

While St. Helena Islanders continue to stand, Sapelo Island is put in the crosshairs and their county votes the opposite way against the Gullah/Geechee natives there. McIntosh County Council members violated the rights of people that wanted to attend what should have been a public meeting and disallowed cameras and other recording devices from entering the court building. Therefore, there isn’t recorded documentation of the night that they cut into the soul of Sapelo by changing the zoning of Sapelo’s Hogg Hammock where the remaining Gullah/Geechees live to become a location that will now allow golf courses and large homes to enter this place and no doubt drive up taxes on those that are natives of. the island. Fortunately, this battle is not over! The Sapelo family has united into a group called “SOLO-Save Our Land Ourselves.” SOLO is seeking 2000 registered voters of McIntosh County that will assist them in getting a referendum on the ballot in order to overturn this recent zoning change that no longer protects indigenous culture on the island. Anyone that is a registered voter of McIntosh County can go to this link to complete the petition and mail it in to support the effort:
https://www.keepsapelogeechee.com/_files/ugd/f477b8_2e51423d168e4a2c8da664923c1f6266.pdf

The petition instructions request voters to sign and mail petition to:

Keep Sapelo Geechee P O Box 930 Townsend, GA 31331

While these islanders fight for entire islands and folks in the Town of Atlantic Beach fight to save their town and economically improve it, native Gullah/Geechee families such as that of Ms. Josephine Wright on Hilton Head Island and Sallie Ann Robinson on Daufuskie Island, SC are all fighting battles to hold onto and to restore their properties. Following www.Facebook.com/GullahGeecheeWEBE and/or @GullahGeechee on Twitter aka “X” will help you keep up with the myriad of issues and ways that you can get involved and help to keep the Gullah/Geechee culture alive on our land in the Gullah/Geechee Nation. We implore you to donate to and share the link for the Gullah/Geechee Land & Legacy Fund:

https://www.gofundme.com/f/gullahgeechee-land-amp-legacy-fund

As others simply stare at a dollar and read “In GOD we trust,” traditionalists Gullah/Geechee truly not only trust GOD but continue to take a stand for and on GOD’s land. We owe that much to not only our ancestors but to our future generations. We will continue to live on and leave a living cultural heritage and legacy ta de Gullah/Geechee chillun. We binya and we ain gwine nowhey!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

Leave a Reply

%d