Smithsonian Magazine: The Blue That Enchanted the World
Say ‘indigo’ and most people know the color. The rich blue is a natural dye and traditional medicine across continents, cultures and civilizations, historically associated with agrarian women's economic empowerment. But in the U.S., indigo's history is tied to slavery: An 18th-century slaveholder’s daughter is widely credited with planting the first indigo seeds in South Carolina and making it a lucrative cash crop.
Today, women in the Lowcountry have revived indigo cultivation and dyeing, building a flourishing community of fiber artists and homesteaders. As South Carolina Artist-in-Residence Arianne King Comer described, “Indigo is the voice of our ancestors.”
Story supported by The Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting
Reporting by Latria Graham and Caroline Gutman
Photo editing by Quentin Nardi
This project was also featured in National Geographic.