The Okefenokee’s Cultural Significance

The Okefenokee is a showcase mosaic of ecosystems, including temperate grasslands, forests, savannas, shrublands, and one of the only subtropical peatlands in the world. Despite intermittent attempts by humans to “tame” the Okefenokee over the centuries, the Okefenokee demonstrates that nature persists. Yet the rich cultural history of the Okefenokee is well documented – as the location of early Seminole settlements and burial mounds; as a refuge for enslaved people in the 18th and 19th century; as a location for timber and the making of fortunes; and as the birthplace of the “Swamper” and “Cracker” cultures – including that music, cuisine and dialects. Additionally the first inhabitants of the Okefenokee were from the Muskogee (Creek) Nation, who named it the “land of trembling earth” in the Muskogee language.

“Except by the hearsay of the moon
Or the glinting of clouds and snow through cedar boghs
And by this hand-me-down light I wade,
Uncertain of every surface preoccupied
By milfoil and watercress, the gloating
Intricate uncannily green beds
Of water starwort whose leaves allow
No reflection of mind, not even their own…”

~ Wading in a Marsh, David Wagoner

Photo by: Mike Sepelak

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