by Emma Stieglitz
The Gullah/Geechee Nation is nearing the end of a month of celebrations marking their 20th anniversary as a globally recognized nation. The Gullah/Geechee people can trace their roots back to the Africans who were enslaved along the chain of Sea Islands running from Jacksonville, North Carolina to Jacksonville, Florida.
While the Gullah/Geechee Diaspora is broad, the Gullah/Geechee Nation is the political, cultural and spiritual home of the Gullah/Geechees today–and it faces an uncertain future due to overdevelopment, sea level rise, and worsening storms.
Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine is Chieftess and Head of State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the Founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition. She has been working to keep Gullah/Geechee culture, language, and traditions alive while also fighting for human rights and self-determination for her people.
Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) pun de shore.
She is a directorate member of the International Human Rights Association for American Minorities (IHRAAM), and is fighting the displacement of the Gullah/Geechee people at the hands of real estate laws that do not recognize the Gullah/Geechee’s centuries-old ties to their land, and development deals that seek to replace protected wetlands and ancestral fishing grounds with luxury resorts masquerading as “ecotourism” destinations. In this recorded interview, Queen Quet details the compounding harms that racism, climate change, over-development, and COVID-19 have had on the Gullah/Geechee people.
Queen Quet is currently fighting the sale of Bay Point to Six Senses, a Thailand-based resort and hotel developer which is trying to secure a “special use” permit to build over what is currently a protected wetland area (see page 1, item 12 on this ledger).
At the southern tip of St. Helena Island, Bay Point is a unique and protected wetland ecosystem and critical fishing ground for the Gullah/Geechee people. St. Helena Island is one of very few Sea Islands left with “contiguous Gullah/Geechee family compounds in which Gullah/Geechee cultural heritage is lived daily,” according to the Nation’s website (www.GullahGeecheeNation.com). Due to closures from COVID-19, the Beaufort County Zoning Board of Appeals has delayed the proceedings and public comment period until August. In the meantime, people can continue to sign the petition in opposition to this destructionment at http://chng.it/gcmmgqFq You can support the Gullah/Geechee by donating to their Land & Legacy Fund, which is raising money to support the legal and tax issues they face with the land they have been stewarding for centuries via CashApp to $GullahGeecheeNation or GoFundMe
As Queen Quet states, “The land is our family and the waterways are our bloodline.”