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Yamasee Tribe

Posted By Dennis Partridge On In Native American,South Carolina | No Comments

Yamasee Indians (a name of uncertain etymology, and evidently an abbreviated form).

A former noted tribe of Muskhogean stock, best known in connection with early South Carolina history, but apparently occupying originally the coast region and islands of south Georgia, and extending into Florida. From their residence near Savannah river they have frequently been confused with the “Savannahs,” or Shawano, and the Yuchi. Missions were established in their territory by the Spaniards about 1570, and they lived under the jurisdiction of the Spanish government of Florida until 1687, when, in consequence of an attempt to transport a number of their people as laborers to the West Indies, they revolted, attacked a number of the mission settlements and peaceful Indians, and then fled north across Savannah river to the English colony of South Carolina. They were allowed to settle within the present limits of Beaufort county, where at a later period they had several villages, the principal of which was Pocotaligo; others were Tolemato and Topiqui (?). They aided against the Tuscarora in 1712, but in 1715, in consequence of dissatisfaction with the traders, organized a combination against the English which included all, or nearly all, the tribes from Cape Fear to the Florida border. The traders were slaughtered in the Indian towns and a general massacre of settlers took place along the Carolina frontier. After several engagements the Yamasee were finally defeated by Gov. Craven at Salkechuh (Saltketchers) on the Combahee and driven across the Savannah. They retired in a body to Florida where they were again received by the Spaniards and settled in villages near St Augustine. From that time they were known as allies of the Spaniards and enemies of the English, against whom they made frequent raids in company with other Florida Indians. A small part of them also appear to have taken refuge with the Catawba, where, according to Adair, they still retained their separate identity in 1743. In 1727 their village near St Augustine was attacked and destroyed by the English, and their Indian allies and most of the inhabitants were killed. In 1761 the remnant was said to number about 20 men, residing near St Augustine, and they seen also to have had a small settlement near Pensacola. The tradition of their destruction and enslavement by the Seminole is noted by several writers of this and a later period. As late as 1812 a small band retained the name among the Seminole, and some settled among the Hitchiti, but they have now completely disappeared. They were said to be darker than the Creeks, and “flat-footed,” and from their proficiency as canoe men gave name to a particular method of rowing known as the “Yamasee stroke.”


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