Thursday, July 01, 2010

Harris Neck Island

A couple of years ago I posted here about a side trip we took to visit a museum - the Penn Center - in St. Helena SC.  The museum honors the culture of a tribe of former slaves, the Gullah-Geechee, who lived in the low country and islands of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.

In today's NY Times, there is an article about some of those Gullah people who are attempting to have their land, at Harris Neck Island in Georgia, returned to them.

In 1942, Harris Neck, a thriving community of black landowners who hunted, farmed and gathered oysters, was taken by the federal government to build an airstrip. Now, the elders — who remember barefoot childhoods spent climbing trees and waking to watch the Canada geese depart in formation — want to know why they cannot have it back.

The Harris Neck Land Trust, formed by the former residents, their descendants and a handful of white families who owned land but did not live on Harris Neck, is asking Congress to return the land. The Fish and Wildlife Service maintains that the land is a crucial part of the national refuge system.  
Of course!

Even though I wouldn't want this land returned to your typical consumerist American, there is an integrity to be re-learned in living as part of wildlife.  Humans are part of this system too.  The very removal of the people from their land was a disruption of the delicate balance of the area. 

There is a way to live simply and well, without destroying the earth and each other.  We need to see this in America.  Who better to show this than the former slaves or Native Americans.

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