Gullah History | Gullah Net

From West Africa

During the late 1600s, English settlers in the new colonies needed more workers to farm thousands of acres of land on Sea Island plantations. Although some of the workers were Native Americans, most were Africans brought to the American colonies as enslaved Africans. South Carolina provided some of the main ports for the European ships that carried people from West Africa and the West Indies.

Many West Africans were skilled farmers and builders. Plantation owners wanted people from this region to farm indigo, rice and cotton. Rice, a crop that the Africans had cultivated for centuries, was highly desired throughout the world. By 1700, "Carolina Golden Rice," as it was called, became a major export from the Sea Islands. Almost as profitable as gold, it brought great wealth to the families who owned the plantations. Although the slaves provided much-needed labor, they were not paid for their work. However, Africans were rich in something that money could not buy - the cultural heritage they brought with them from their homeland.


Word Bank

Sea Islands (sea is.lands) - a group of islands off the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia and North Florida.

Native American (na.tive a.mer.i.can) n. - a descendant of any of the peoples who lived in North, Central or South America before European explorers and colonists arrived.

slave (slave) n. - a person who is owned by someone else and works without pay.

port (port) n. - a town or city with deep water where ships can dock and load or unload cargo.

West Africa (west - the region of western Africa between the Sahara Desert and the Gulf of Guinea.

West Indies (west in.dies) - a group of islands between North and South America that includes the Bahamas, the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles.

indigo (in.di.go) n. - a plant used to make blue dye; historically grown on plantations.

cultivate (cul.ti.vate) v. - to grow a crop.

export (ex.port) n. - something that is sent to another country for trade or sale.

cultural heritage (her.i.tage) n. - things handed down from generation to generation, such as traditions and languages that have cultural importance.




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