St. Helena Island

When you think of the Low Country region in the United States, you readily envision the Sea Islands, areas along the southeastern coastlines of South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.  These islands, of which there are more than one hundred, are located between the Santee River and the St. John’s River.  They include the islands, Edisto, Fripp, Hilton Head, Daufuskie, Tybee, St. Simons, Jekyll and St. Helena.

On St. Helena Island, particularly, aspects of many beliefs, customs, traditions, skills and crafts, cuisine and languages of West Africans who were forced to labor in building America were retained beyond the era of slavery.  These retentions significantly comprised the culture of the Gullah, Geechee and Sea Island peoples.  Their cultures survived the brutal system of enslavement despite the challenging conditions: its location on the Atlantic Ocean provided suffocating heat and the proliferation of mosquitos, both common within waterways; lack of physical connections, such as bridges, to the mainland; and absence of forced assimilation to Eurocentric culture.