Grounding Myself in the Historical Memories of Fort Raleigh

Hello everyone!
Welcome to my first blog post– my name is Pia Cano and I am the interpretive design intern at Fort Raleigh National Historic Site in North Carolina. While I am originally from Santa Ana, California, I have just moved to North Carolina. I was excited about this opportunity as the internship seems like a perfect fit of where I wanted to be and the work I wanted to support given what I studied in college (M: race & ethnic studies; m(2): art history & global environmental studies).

My view as I walk to work at Fort Raleigh.                            Image description: A street view of forest trees lining an asphalt road as the sun shines through the canopy.

This summer, I am happily living on Roanoke Island and enjoying daily walks through the maritime forest. With sky-high canopies, these forests are home to wonderous evergreen trees and swift flying ospreys. Trees such as laurel oaks and loblolly pines arch around the paths that I take to work each day. I am also lucky to be in close walking distance to a nearby beach where I regularly find shells, tumbled stones, and impressive pieces of driftwood.

-o-o-o-                                                   -o-o-o-                                                                   -o-o-o-

Fort Raleigh protects two important stories: the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island (1587) and the Freedmen’s Colony (1862). The lost colony story is more widely recognized of the two and describes the conditions and interactions between Algonquian tribes and the first English colonists. Over 100 colonists, after their last contact with European voyagers, were never seen again. Returners only found  small traces behind, such as a carving in a tree. Although there are plausible hypotheses of what happened, this mysterious disappearance continues to capture the imaginations of many Americans.
The other historical colony was the Freedmen’s Colony that was established during the Civil War. Formerly enslaved freedom seekers found refuge on the island and built a robust community with schools, churches, stores, and homes. At its peak, almost 3,500 people lived on the colony. Although no remnants of the colony survive, Fort Raleigh is hoping to highlight the newest research collected on this important history. More to come on this!
I am excited to learn the lay of the land and share with you intriguing details of these stories!
Till then,
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