Artist Mary Jackson created these baskets which are in the Smithsonian Collection

A craft, a treasure, a legacy preserved

Sweetgrass baskets are coiled baskets “sewed” by African Americans who have preserved and cherished their tradition of creating these baskets from native grasses. The craft was brought to these shores during slavery times in the hearts, hands, and minds of those who were enslaved on rice growing farms in the area. This type of coiled basket was used in Sierra Leone and nations on the rice coast in Africa.

Passing the craft from generation to generation, it has been protected and is an artform native to the Gullah Geeche people. People gather bullrush from the marshes and estuaries. It is then used to create these works of art. Strips of palmetto frond are used to bind the coils one to another. Sometimes the needles of long-leaf pines are used to give contrasting color.

The Smithsonian Museum holds many examples of this artform in their collection. Listen to esteemed artist Mary Jackson as she tells us about them.

In the Mount Pleasant area, you’ll find sweetgrass basket artisans’ stands along Highway 17 in the town. Check out this post from the town about this cherished artform.

Watch this film to learn from these artisans more about this incredible art form.

 

 

Historical Marker for shell rings and middens in Mt Pleasant

 

Did you know that Mount Pleasant was home to native Americans the Seewees? According to Wikipedia

The site of Mount Pleasant was originally occupied by the Sewee people, an Algonquian language-speaking tribe.

The first English colonists arrived in 1680. They were under the leadership of “Captain Florentia O’Sullivan. Captain O’Sullivan had been granted 2,340 acres, which included not only the island that bears his name, but also the land that was to become Mount Pleasant. On the earliest map of the time this area was called “North Point”.

According to SciWay, the Seewee people’s home was, ” On the lower Santee River in Berkeley, Charleston, and Georgetown counties, southward toward the Wando River and westward toward present-day Moncks Corner. They were northern neighbors of the Etiwan.”

To learn more about these native citizens of the region, visit the Town of Mt. Pleasant’s website.