November 20, 2012 Slideshows » Arts+Movies

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A Culture on the Brink 

Pete Marovich
Hilton Head native islander Harry Murray navigates his bateau along Broad Creek looking for shrimp and crab. Because the Gullah live along the coast and on barrier islands, seafood makes up a large part of their diet. But development on Hilton Head Island has resulted in fences and gates that have cut off much of the access to Gullah fishing grounds.
Pete Marovich
Gullah shrimpers Gene Orage and Diogenese Miller aboard the Rip Tide shrimp the waters off the coast of Hilton Head Island. The Gullah were a major factor in the development of commercial fishing in the Sea Islands but competition from those with larger resources have made it difficult to survive. Over-fishing and pollution from the development and maintenance of golf resorts have also aided in the decline of shrimping as a way to earn a living.
Pete Marovich
Gullah shrimpers Gene Orage and Diogenese Miller aboard the Rip Tide shrimp the waters off the coast of Hilton Head Island. The Gullah were a major factor in the development of commercial fishing in the Sea Islands but competition from those with larger resources have made it difficult to survive. Over-fishing and pollution from the development and maintenance of golf resorts have also aided in the decline of shrimping as a way to earn a living.
Pete Marovich
Gullah shrimpers Gene Orage and Diogenese Miller aboard the Rip Tide shrimp the waters off the coast of Hilton Head Island. The Gullah were a major factor in the development of commercial fishing in the Sea Islands but competition from those with larger resources have made it difficult to survive. Over-fishing and pollution from the development and maintenance of golf resorts have also aided in the decline of shrimping as a way to earn a living.
Pete Marovich
A Gullah fishermen knits a fishing net. Most of the Gullah/Geechee make their own fishing nets, an art that came from West Africa.
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Pete Marovich
Sapelo Island resident and historian Cornelia Walker Bailey and her grandson Jamarcus Wilson drive into Hog Hammock, home to a Gullah/Geechee community that has been on the island for generations. Bailey and her family, like many of Sapelo’s natives, are direct descendants of enslaved Africans.
Pete Marovich
Hilton Head native islander Tom Barnwell tends to goats that he raises on his property. Barnwell sells the goats to members of the growing Hispanic community on the island.
Pete Marovich
Qur’an Green was the only remaining native islander attending the Daufuskie Island Elementary School in 2005. In the 1950s, the Gullah children on the island attended the Mary Fields School during an era of segregation. Today there are only a few Gullah/Geechee living on Daufuskie, which has two resorts and a private residential community.
Pete Marovich
A Gullah/Geechee teenager rides the ferry back to Sapelo Island after attending school on the mainland. About 13 children commute to the mainland for school daily.
Pete Marovich
Gullah/Geechee men play cards in “The Trough,” the local watering hole on Sapelo Island owned by Julius “Frank” Bailey.
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Pete Marovich
Jamarcus and Johnathan Wilson head out to do some shrimping and crabbing on Sapelo Island.
Pete Marovich
Members of the First Union African Baptist Church talk following services. Originally a Gullah church, it now serves as a church for all island residents.
Pete Marovich
Members of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church on Hilton Head Island make their way toward the river for a baptism ceremony. The Rev. Ben Williams still performs traditional baptisms.
Pete Marovich
Members of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church on Hilton Head perform a river baptism. As with fishing and hunting, development of private residential communities along the highly valued marshes and rivers of the Sea Islands has limited the Gullah/Geechee’s access to the rivers where they perform the ceremonies.
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Pete Marovich
Gullah shrimpers Gene Orage and Diogenese Miller aboard the Rip Tide shrimp the waters off the coast of Hilton Head Island. The Gullah were a major factor in the development of commercial fishing in the Sea Islands but competition from those with larger resources have made it difficult to survive. Over-fishing and pollution from the development and maintenance of golf resorts have also aided in the decline of shrimping as a way to earn a living.
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