A Proud Tradition
Sweetgrass baskets and fishing nets are two of the only surviving Gullah traditions in the Tidelands today but are certainly not the only ones. Everything from local healing practices to the polyrhythmic, “Sea Island” clap
Listen to Sea Island clap. can be traced back to the beginning of the Gullah / Geechee Nation. The dulcet Gullah language has been preserved throughout the years and is still spoken by many in casual conversation.
Listen to examples of spoken Gullah. Almost all Gullah speakers are bilingual—speaking both English and Gullah fluently—but for years many African-Americans found themselves ridiculed for speaking Gullah and told that it was little more than “bad” English. It was not until 1949 that anthropologist Lorenzo Turner studied the language in Charleston, determining it to be a hybrid of English, French, and African languages of Sierra Leone. Over the years Gullah came to be accepted as a separate language in its own right—not a dialect of the uneducated—and its use eventually encouraged in efforts to preserve the proud Gullah tradition.