Gullah Culture Fights for Land and Respect

Illustration for article titled Gullah Culture Fights for Land and Respect

The Harris Neck Land Trust wants its land back. During World War II, the federal government seized the land of this thriving Gullah community in order to build an air strip. The Geechee (self-described term) people are descendants of West African slaves, many of whom became some of the nation's earliest black landowners. They were given two weeks to move before houses were demolished and burned. The government promised them that they could have their land back when the war ended. Residents are still fighting for their land, facing opposition from not only the federal government but also wildlife advocates who claim that the people cannot peacefully co-exist with the wildlife. The Geechee folks say that they peacefully co-existed with wildlife before. Protecting wildlife is a part of their culture, which is part of their African heritage, much of which has been preserved to this day. The feds took the land, kicked them off and still haven't given them back their land. Now wildlife activists are working in tandem with their efforts to preserve wildlife, but not the rights of the people or their rich, cultural heritage, which includes respect for wildlife. Where are the activists for the Geechees, who clearly are endangered?