Standing up for Coastal Environment & Culture

Queen Quet representing the Gullah/Geechee Nation at Hands Across the Sand 2016, Folly Beach, SC. Photo courtesy Gullah/Geechee Nation.

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation, is a champion of the environment, standing up to protect the natural resources that have sustained Gullah/Geechee people for generations.

Recently, one of Queen Quet’s major environmental campaigns has been fighting offshore drilling off of the coast of the Southeast and SACE has been pleased to be able to work alongside her in a large coalition of partners to protect our coast from the impacts of offshore drilling.

Her motivation for opposing offshore drilling is laid out in the Gullah/Geechee Nation resolution opposing offshore drilling and seismic exploration: that “Gullah/Geechee culture is inextricably tied to the land and the waterways of the southeastern coast;” that “seismic gun blast and offshore drilling activities do impact the coastal patterns of natural, estuarine, scenic, and cultural resource features, qualities, processes, uses, values;” and that “these types of environmental disruptions would have lasting negative impacts on Gullah/Geechee subsistence fisheries and Gullah/Geechee traditional lifeways.”

The Gullah/Geechee culture has been sustained by rich fisheries and other coastal resources for over 400 years, yet is now challenged by fossil fuel pollution in the forms of oil spills, seismic blasting as well as climate change, and ocean acidification. Similarly, Queen Quet points out that fossil fuels pose social threats to Gullah/Geechee culture in that many families like to connect on the shoreline, so how would oil spills or sea level rise affect these traditional gathering places?

Just as Queen Quet stands up to preserve the natural resources that have sustained Gullah/Geechee people for generations, so too does she stand up for other aspects of the cultural heritage, which face challenges from many other economic, political, and social factors. To this end, Queen Quet is hosting the Gullah/Geechee Nation International Music & Movement Festival this weekend (August 5-7) which will showcase Gullah/Geechee arts, music, and cuisine to celebrate and share the culture.

To help remind attendees of why we seek to stand up for our coast, the festival will be located right on the Charleston Harbor—at the Maritime Center–so you can see the water, feel the ocean breeze on your face, and for lunch there will be a fish fry, so you can taste why it is important to protect our coast.

You can register here.

We hope you will make plans to attend!

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