April 19, 2017
A New Society in an Ancient Swamp: The Social World of the Great Dismal Swamp, 1607 to 1863
Daniel O. Sayers, PhD
Chair of the Department of Anthropology, American University
African American Maroons (people who permanently self-removed from enslavement) and indigenous Americans founded a novel society in the Great Dismal Swamp of North Carolina and Virginia beginning with the rise of colonialism in the Mid-Atlantic region. After over a decade’s work on several sites in the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, archaeology is showing how these resistant and defiant people formed communities that lasted over 250 years, what their communities were like, how they dealt with the seemingly harsh swamp environment, and how their world differed from the one they left behind. This presentation will outline what we know about this very under-recognized society and why this history matters today.