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Native Uprisings Against the Carolinas (1711-17)

In 1957 University of Georgia archaeologists, under the leadership of Dr. Joseph Caldwell, were working on several archaeological sites on the tributaries of the Savannah River that were to be flooded by Lake Hartwell.  The best known of these town sites are Tugaloo and Chauga. Because they were last occupied by Lower Cherokees in the early 1700s, the archaeologists assumed that excavation of their mounds would prove that the Cherokees built all the mounds in the Southern Highlands. The archaeologists were shocked to find that the Cherokee occupation of both sites was very brief and much smaller than the ancestors of the Creeks, who had actually built the mounds. The town had been burned and then abandoned by the Creeks.  Because radiocarbon dates for the oldest Cherokee occupation averaged in the 1720s, Dr. Caldwell publicly stated that the Cherokees could have captured the town any earlier than 1700 AD.   Particularly puzzling to him was the widespread presence of “Lameroid” pottery, which was typical of Georgia Creek towns in the early 1700s, just before they switched entirely to cooking in British-made iron pots. Despite the published archaeological report, still on file with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Georgia erected historical markers on Lake Hartwell in the 1960s stating that Tugaloo was Georgia’s oldest Cherokee town and dated back to the 1400s.  Caldwell’s tests showed that the site was occupied at least as early as the 20 BC by ancestors of the Creeks. The conflict between professional archaeological work, professionally researched history and the popular history portrayed in most publications makes the task of discerning the factual...

Wateree Tribe

Wateree Indians (perhaps from Catawba wateran, ‘to float on the water.’ Gatschet). One of the early tribes of the Carolinas, probably Siouan. As described by Juan de la Vandera in his account of the expedition of Juan de Pardo in 1567, they then lived at a great distance from the coast, near the Cherokee frontier. In 1670 Lederer, whose statement is doubtful, places them apparently in North Carolina, on the extreme upper Yadkin, far to the north west of their later habitat, with the Shoccore and Eno on the north east and the Cheraw on the west. In 1700 they lived on Wateree River, below the present Camden, South Carolina. On a map of 1715 their village is placed on the west bank of Wateree river, perhaps in Fairfield County. Moll’s map of 1730 locates their village on the east bank of the river. When Lawson met them, in 1700, they were a much larger body than the Congaree, and spoke an entirely different language, which was unintelligible to the latter people. The Yamasee War broke the power of the Wateree, and according to Adair (1743) they became confederates of the Catawba, though still retaining their own village and language. Vandera says they were ruled by two female chiefs, who held dignified court, with a retinue of young men and women. He also describes them as being rather the slaves than the subjects of their chiefs, which agrees with what Lawson says of the Santee. Lederer, who speaks from hearsay only, mentions the killing of women of a hostile tribe, by a chief, in order that their spirits might...

Waxhaw Tribe

Waxhaw Indians. A small tribe that lived in the 17th century in what is now Lancaster County, South Carolina, and Union and Mecklenburg Counties, North Carolina. They were connected with the neighboring Sugeree, and both were apparently related to the Catawba, and therefore were Siouan. The custom of flattening the head, practiced by the Waxhaw, was also mentioned as a custom of the Catawba. Lederer (1672) says they were subject to and might be considered a part of the Catawba. Lawson visited the Waxhaw in 1701 and was hospitably received. He mentions two of their villages situated about 10 miles apart. He describes the people as very tall, and notes particularly their custom of artificially flattening the head during infancy. The dance ceremonies and councils were held in a council house, much larger than the ordinary dwellings. Instead of being covered with bark, like the domiciles, it was neatly thatched with sedge and rushes; the entrance was low, and around the walls on the inside were benches made of cane. Near the Waxhaw were the Catawba, or more likely a band of that tribe. They were probably so reduced by the Yamasee War of 1715 as to have been obliged to incorporate with the Catawba. For Further Study The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Waxhaw as both an ethnological study, and as a people. See Mooney, Siouan Tribes of the East,...

The Yamasee War

In 1715 the Yamasee war broke out, the most disastrous of all those which the two Carolina settlements had to face. The documents of South Carolina show clearly that the immediate cause of this uprising was the misconduct of some English traders, but it is evident that the enslavement of Indians, carried on by Carolina traders in an ever more open and unscrupulous manner, was bound to produce such an explosion sooner or later. The best contemporary narratives of this revolt are to be found in “An Account of Missionaries Sent to South Carolina, the Places to Which They Were Appointed, Their Labours and Success, etc.,” and in “An Account of the Breaking Out of the Yamassee War, in South Carolina, extracted from the Boston News, of the 13th of June, 1715,” both contained in Carroll’s Historical Collections of South Carolina.1 The following is from the first of these documents: In the year 1715, the Indians adjoining to this colony, all round from the borders of Fort St. Augistino to Cape Fear, had formed a conspiracy to extirpate the white people. This war broke out the week before Easter [actually on April 15]. The parish of St. Helen’s had some apprehensions of a rising among the adjoining Indians, called the Yammosees. On Wednesday before Easter, Captain Nairn, agent among the Indians, went, with some others, to them [and it appears by direct commission of Governor Craven who had rumors of trouble], desiring to know the reason of their uneasiness, that if any injury had been done them, they might have satisfaction made them. The Indians pretended to be well...

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