Monday, April 15, 2013

The Republic of Ocracoke?

For such a small place, the island of Ocracoke is probably one of the most talked-about locales on this blog. This is due to a variety of reasons: it's beauty; it's "remote-yet-still-accessible" nature; it's language. Ocracoke is one of those quintessential North Carolina places; it's a treasure -- a special place to many Carolinians and "foreigners" alike.

I can't recall where I first heard the term, but recently I heard the island referred to as the "Republic of Ocracoke," and I wanted to follow up to see if this is a commonly-accepted term.

Some quick research (ie, "Google Search") does show some mentions of the term "Republic of Ocracoke," though not a ton.

This travelogue from 2008 makes a mention of the term. Along with some glowing reviews of the flora and fauna of the island is this paragraph [bolded for emphasis]:

The other local news is that Ocracoke’s oldest resident, Mrs. Belle Bryant, has just passed away.  An African American woman, born in the year the Wright brothers launched their plane at Kitty Hawk, she lived her entire life on Ocracoke and died at the age of one hundred and four.  She remembered her grandmother as a slave in the Antebellum South.  There are no African Americans living on the island now.  A number of mexicans have recently moved in as a new minority to work in the modest island construction industry.  Such is the odd human balance that currently exists in the Republic of Ocracoke 

 Another piece is this from the Ocracoke Current that is more of a civic-minded writing:

Everyone on Ocracoke has a voice that is heard. We resist change until a clear consensus is apparent.  The microphone gets turned up a notch for people who have lived here the longest, and even further for those with deep roots on the island. Yet native Ocracokers often are overlooked and misunderstood.
This page is intended to be a resource to enhance civic involvement.  We want to increase understanding of the mission and scope of the many organizations, committees, boards, non-profits and government entities that make things happen on Ocracoke.
If you’ve read this far, congratulations!  OcracokeCurrent encourages you to check out the links, see what raises your blood pressure or makes your heart beat faster, and contact the people involved.
Democracy is not available to everyone, and we are lucky enough to have it, here on the republic of Ocracoke.

Has this phrase been around for a while, or is it fairly new? Does anyone know the genesis?

Not surprisingly, most anytime an area is segmented and presented as a separate "republic" or "state" (see the State of Franklin, for instance), it is typically because of a disconnect or downright mistrust of the preceived heavy-handed government. I wonder if this is the case with the Republic of Ocracoke -- or is it just more of a state of mind, or even a marketing campaign? If it's the latter, perhaps it's time for a flag or a snarky motto?


(Image from Wikipedia)