The evidence is everywhere but you may not even notice it.
A nondescript pile of oyster shells bleached white by the sun.
A small, tree-covered islet in the marsh.
A crumbling embankment on the wooded edge of a tidal creek.
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These are the signs of a once-vibrant Native American culture that spanned centuries and thrived along the coastlands. These people hunted, fished, raised their families and moved with the ebb and flow of tide and season to harvest the bounty of the Lowcountry. Their sites and settlements can still be seen in many places and can be visited at four local heritage preserve sites that are close to Bluffton.
When you visit, you will experience a journey into nature and a walk back in time that will remind you that long before condos and golf courses attracted visitors and residents to our area, another people knew the value and beauty of the world of the Lowcountry.
DePratter, a research associate professor at the University of South Carolina, has spent many years working to research and survey Native American settlements in the Port Royal Sound area. His work featured in "Sea Island Secrets" revealed that even the small islands that dot the marshes surrounding Lowcountry islands can hold immense archeological and cultural value,
"Each and every small pile of shell has something to tell us about where people chose to live, what they are, and how they adapted to the productive tidal creeks and hammocks," he said.
When you visit these heritage preserves and historic sites, you will get a glimpse of the lives of these ancient peoples and the incredible force of beauty and abundance of the land in which we live.
For informationon each of these sites, call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at 803-734-3893 or visit www.dnr.sc.gov. Please note that any collecting of artifacts or damaging these sites is prohibited and fines or imprisonment for violations may result.
The ARKHAIOS Cultural Heritage and Archaeology Film Festival
A fascinating gathering will be held Thursday through Saturday at Coligny Theatre on Hilton Head Island. Dr. Chester DePratter and other speakers and filmmakers will present films and other media that highlight Native American life and culture throughout history. "Sea Island Secrets" will be among the films shown. If you are interested in attending this event please call (843) 298-1638, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.arkhaiosfilmfestival.org for more information about this unique event.
Bluffton resident Matt Richardson enjoys taking day trips with his family and exploring the Lowcountry. To see more pictures from his adventures, go to http://www.flickr.com and search on the username "greenkayak73." He can be reached at email@example.com.