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Why should we care about the people who lived here so long before us?

It is because we care about here.

Here – Timucua territory, Mocama territory. The salt marshes and windy creeks from the St. Johns River north up to the Altamaha River, west out to the Aucilla River, and south down to Lake George and the Withlacoochi River. This is a very special place, and it should be sacred to us. Native Americans lived here thousands of years before us. They picked the same blackberries we do; catch the same fish from many of the same saltmarshes; sang songs, played games, raised children and buried their dead on the same land we walk today.

Studying the past helps us better understand how we – here and now – fit into the expansive course of human history. We can embrace the common story of the land and waters that link the present with the past and which can provide connections to our children and grandchildren. This gives us a sense of belonging, and helps establish who we are. This understanding provides for community cohesion, and gives us an identity linked to our land’s ancestors.

Besides being our home, this is, even objectively speaking, a very special place. It is certainly a place of spectacular beauty, and of important history.

The first art that mankind has which depicted how the Native Americans lived came from right here. The first book that recorded for mankind the languages of the Native Americans was written right here, and it tells us a lot about the traditions and philosophy of those who lived off the land for so long.

If we want our children and our grandchildren to experience this special connection, this sense of belonging, we have a duty to tell our story in the best and most accurate way we can.

Warren Anderson and Keith Ashley
August 2009