Golf gear manufacturer TaylorMade has a tradition of creating a special logo for its contract players to put on their golf bags in significant tournaments. Logos are laden with symbolism relevant to the tournament’s location or history — the one created for the 2012 British Open, for instance, celebrates the Royal Lytham St.Anne’s course with a windmill (a famous local landmark), a life saver (a nod to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution of St. Anne’s) and the initials “TL” (fo Tom Lehman, whose victory on the course in 1996 broke a 70-year drought for American players).
This weekend, the PGA Championship is being played at Kiawah Island, known nationally as a a destination for golf enthusiasts, and TaylorMade’s logo makes reference to, among other things, the island’s Native American history.
Kiawah Island, part of South Carolina’s “Low Country,” is named for its original inhabitants, the Kiawah People, a Tribe now considered to be extinct. The Kiawah are not to be confused with the Kiowa Nation, a Plains Indians tribe now headquartered in Oklahoma. Although from the looks of it, the designers of this logo may have done just that.
The logo’s background is an arrowhead, and it its center is a teepee, or tipi. The tipi, unfortunately, has no relevance to the indigenous inhabitants of Kiawah Island — indeed, they would never have seen a tipi. Tipi is a Lakota word for a portable dwelling used by Plains Indians, who roamed vast expanses in pursuit of buffalo. The tipi was uniquely suited to this lifestyle, as it could be quickly broken down, easily transported, and quickly raised again at a new campsite.
We cannot say with certainty what sort of dwellings the Kiawah People used, but it’s highly likely that they, like most agrarian peoples of the Southeast, would have lived in permanent structures built using the method known as “wattle and daub” prevalent during the Mississippian period.
Kiawah is an 11-square-mile island, about half the size of Manhattan. The Kiawah People might have devised any number of innovations to adapt to their surroundings, but a large tent designed to be transported great distances was certainly not one of them.