December 3, 2023


Vacation Shines Through

Through Guided Tours, Chef Sallie Ann Robinson Is Preserving Daufuskie Island’s Gullah Geechee History

3 min read
Condé Nast Traveler

Her family also lived off of the richness of that land: Looking, crabbing, and fishing along the creek have been their way of daily life 9 pecan trees enveloped her childhood dwelling. Her grandmother’s bountiful, upper body-significant backyard garden was the resource of freshly plucked okra for relatives meals.

But just after Daufuskie’s oyster harvesting sector dried up by the close of the 1950s thanks to pollution in the Savannah River, washing away hundreds of work opportunities, quite a few family members remaining for function chances in Hilton Head and Savannah. Robinson also left for Philadelphia to operate as a nurse and increase her five small children, just before returning to Daufuskie in 2016—all whilst chronicling Gullah recipes and tales across a collection of cookbooks. And right after a few several years of working with a community operator, Tour Daufuskie, in 2019 she began her very own corporation, The Sallie Ann Genuine Gullah Tour. She saw the price of sharing heritage as prosperous as her own—and the Gullah Geechee people’s.

“There’s a limit for everyone who’s not pleased with what they do,” suggests Robinson. “Make a greater option. I know it is a lot easier stated than finished, really don’t get me mistaken, but in because of time you need to locate that area. We all have earned that joy.”

When I sign up for her for a tour, the 3-hour experience can take us by means of streets without having stoplights, down intertwining dirt roads, and previous islanders whose main mode of transportation is a golfing cart. Tour stops involve some of the island’s most essential landmarks, like the Daufuskie Museum and Library, and the Oyster Union Modern society Corridor, which Robinson fought to switch into a museum featuring the tales of personnel who the moment gathered at the corridor right after a very long day of racking and shucking oysters at the cannery. At the island’s 141-12 months-aged To start with African Baptist Church, Robinson performs for our tour group, tearing down the residence with a highly effective rendition of I’m Going Residence On The Morning Practice.

Later on, she requires us to the overgrown, now-abandoned Mary Area Cemetery, wherever quite a few descendants cannot locate their beloved one’s last resting places. Sitting down in Robinson’s front property, beneath a hundreds of years-old oak tree draped in moss, she flips through picture archives of everyday living on Daufuskie, such as her time as a sixth-quality university student of Pat Conroy, creator of The H2o Is Extensive, who used a 12 months teaching on the island.

One of the most riveting visits is to Robinson’s childhood house, a now-depleted wooden cottage with a rusted roof, sage-eco-friendly shutters, and a wrap-all around porch. A peek into the household reveals aged bedding covered in debris and light curtains that even now hang—a reminder of a past, however a nod to the foreseeable future Robinson envisions, also. Daufuskie is complete of historic Gullah homes that will need restoration, and Robinson is on a mission to give them another lifestyle.

“My tour is extra than just sharing the adore of rising up right here and the men and women I grew up with and the classes I have realized,” claims Robinson. “It’s [about] what is actually going on now.” 

Ten Gullah properties on the island need to have mend, alongside with the historic cemetery. The Gullah native’s non-revenue, Daufuskie Island Gullah Heritage Culture, uses a percentage from every single tour ticket towards foreseeable future refurbishment and servicing initiatives. Robinson’s vision is to rebuild historic households alongside the family members who have them, just before turning them into revenue-generating holiday vacation rentals. She is leaning on the knowledge of her ancestors and making on the basis they laid to protect these essential parts of Black heritage. “I am ready to do a little something they could not do,” she says, “and which is to retain the legacy going.”

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