Sunday, March 13, 2011
Memories of Growing Up In The Lowcountry From A Young "Natives" Perspective
Today I am so excited, and honored to turn over The Land Of Palm Trees to a guest blogger. Rick is a friend that I met through work at BSSF in the pharmacy department. Rick is a recently retired pharmacist whom I respect immensely, not just for his humor and wisdom, but for his character and integrity as well. Rick is an interesting man, ex-military with a family background that goes back to England. In addition to being a great creative writer, as you will see, he is also a good artist. Many thanks to Rick for accepting my invitation to guest-blog, his willingness is your good fortune, I think you will agree.
I was lucky to have been brought up here in the low country. When I was in grammar school back in the 50's my parents bought a lot beside a small canal that leads out to the Stono River. It's situated diagonally across this small waterway to the 15th hole of Municipal Golf course. It was a wondrous playground for kids my age.
Across the canal (small stream, big ditch, whatever you would call it) was the marsh, playground to fiddler crabs and home of Redwing Blackbirds, which was the ideal place to muddy up shoes and jeans while searching for evidence of Indians--Pre-Ameircans of the native persuasion--such as arrowheads and piles of oyster shells.
The Stono River was named after the Stono Indians which was one of the tribes of the Cusabo group. I used to run around hiding behind scrub oaks with long flowing trains of Spanish moss hanging from the branches. In my head I was one of those young boys learning about the land around me.
I was that lad clothed in deer skin tied around my waist and on my feet the soft leather moccasins for protection against the prickly undergrowth surrounding the paths made by feet traveling from one village to another.
I imagined the round houses covered in bark stuffed with the moss of the oak or mud from the marsh for insulation. Several of these homes would be within a protective wall. Also within the wall was a council house for tribal meetings. Just outside the council house would be a clearing that was used for dances and games. But all that was beyond my understanding, I just played at learning to shoot the bow and arrow which I believed was important to learn if I was going to be a worthy warrior. I searched for crabs in the stream along with otters who swam along the banks on occasion. I dreamed of launching an arrow into the heart of a deer to provide meat and skins for food and warmth. I knew in the winter that more leather was needed for leggings and capes to ward off the cold of the winter period.
I often found arrowheads in the marsh while slipping between the waving blades of grass sprouting from the plough mud. I stumbled onto shark's teeth as well as mounds of decaying oyster shells beneath light green spindly grass. To me they were the remnants of those shell thrown along the outer perimeter of the village. Proof that those long lost tribes had been in my area.
Charles Towne had been founded around 1670 on Cusabo land and the tribes established close ties with the the Englishmen. The early cooperation was of mutual benefit to ward of the aggressive Yuchi tribe. However, their ties crumbled in a very short time.
The Stono tribe joined the rebellion against the colonists in this area in 1674. The war was brief. The Stonos and Coosas who were not killed were enslaved and taken to the West Indies. Slavery of Indians was officially sanctified by the colony due to these uprisings.
Though the Stono tribe is no longer their memory lives on by the river between James and Johns Island called the Stono. Other rivers nearby are named after other memebers of the Cusabo family of tribes such as the Ashepoo, Combahee, Edisto, Wando, and others.
The oaks with moss draped over the limbs, the marsh waving in cool breezes off the Stono and the warm smell of plough mud wafting along those breezes often bring thoughts of the Native Americans who lived in this area in days long past. Parties of men padding along the beaten down paths. Whoops from men playing games on the open areas. These were all imaginings of a young boy growing up here with such a rich past full of lush stories and memories evoked in almost natural surroundings.