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Ossabaw daydreamin’
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ITS NAME MEANS ‘place of the holly bushes,’ and it’s where Creek Indians once went to get the yaupon holly berries they needed to brew the cleansing black tea crucial to their ceremonies.

(To give you an idea of just what is meant by “cleansing,” the Latin name of the yaupon holly is Ilex vomitoria. Get the picture?)

Today Ossabaw Island is one of the best preserved barrier islands on the east coast. Owned by the state and administered by the Ossabaw Island Foundation, it’s now reserved for educational purposes.

This week that educational component comes to the mainland for the Atlantic World and African American Life and Culture in the Georgia Lowcountry seminar, happening Feb. 27-29 at the DeSoto Hilton downtown.

Though intended primarily for educators, anyone with an interest in Lowcountry history is invited to attend the free seminars (a negligible processing fee is charged). Other events in the symposium, such as tours and lunches, are ticketed and carry a charge of $35-40.

Go to for info.

Some of the most well-regarded names in this little-known but vital field are set to speak. Sample topics include “A Sense of Self and Place: Unmasking the Mystiques of My Gullah Cultural Heritage,” by Emory Campbell, Director Emeritus of the Penn Center on St. Helena Island, South Carolina; “Africans, Culture and Islam in the Lowcountry,” by Michael Gomez of New York University; “The Great Cry of our People is Land: Black Settlement and Community on Ossabaw Island” by Allison Dorsey of Swarthmore College”; and “Archeology of the Gullah-Geechee: Connecting the Past to the Present,” by Theresa A. Singleton, a Syracuse University archeologist with the Smithsonian.

The Sea Islands of South Carolina get most of the attention -- Prince of Tides, anyone? -- but the barrier islands of coastal Georgia have at least as fascinating a history, though it seems to be sadly less prevalent in the public eye.

A limited number of registrations are still available. They prefer online registration at, but you can also call 233-5104. A full symposium schedule is on the website. See you there!

Jim Morekis is editor in chief of Connect Savannah. E-mail him at