Collection: Siouan Tribes of the East

The Waxhaw and Sugeree Indians

The two small tribes bearing the above designations are hardly known except in connection with the Catawba Indians, with whom they were afterward incorporated. They may be treated together. The tribes lived, respectively, about Waxhaw and Sugar (i. e., Sugeree) creeks, two small streams flowing into Catawba River from the northeast, within, what is now Lancaster County, South Carolina, and Union and Mecklenburg counties, North Carolina. As previously mentioned (The Eno, Shoccoree, and Adshusheer indians) the Waxhaw practiced the custom of flattening the head, a custom probably followed also by the Catawba and other neighboring tribes, whence they were called Flatheads. The first notice of either tribe seems to be that of Lederer, who visited, the Wisacky (Warsaw) in 1672, and found them living next south of the Sara, i. e., about where they were afterward known. He dismisses them with the brief statement that they were subject to the Ushery (Catawba) and might be considered a part of that tribe 1Lederer, John. The discoveries of John Lederer, in three several marches from Virginia to the west of Carolina, and other parts of the continent. Begun in March, 1669, and ended in September, 1670. Together with a general map of the whole territory which he traversed. Collected and translated out of Latin from his discourse and writings, by Sir William Talbot, baronet, etc. London, etc. 1672, p. 17. Map...

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The Woccon, Sissipahaw, Cape Fear, and Warren-Nuncock Indians

Of the North Carolina tribes bearing the foregoing names almost nothing is known, and of the last two even the proper names have not been recorded. The Woccon were Siouan; the Saxapahaw and Cape Fear Indians presumably were Siouan, as indicated from their associations and alliances with known Siouan tribes, while the Warren-nuncock were probably some people better known under another name, though they cannot be identified. The region between the Yadkin and the Neuse, extending down to the coast, was probably occupied by still other tribes whose very names are forgotten. They were virtually exterminated by smallpox and other diseases long before the colonization of this region in the middle of the eighteenth century, and probably even before the Yamasi war of 1715 disrupted the smaller tribes. About all that is known of the Woccon was recorded by Lawson, who states that about 1710 they lived not more than two leagues from the Tuskarora (who occupied the lower Neuse and its tributaries), and had two villages, Yupwauremau and Tooptatmeer (p. 383), with 120 warriors, which would indicate a population of 500 or 600 souls. This was by far a larger population at that period than any other of the eastern Carolina tribes excepting the Tuskarora. He gives a vocabulary of about 150 words, which shows that their dialect was closely related to that of the Catawba, although the...

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The Sara Indians

While we know nothing positively as to the linguistic affinity of the Sara, all the evidence goes to show that, like most of the tribes of the central region of Virginia and Carolina, they were of Siouan stock. Their name is probably from the Catawba word sara, signifying a place of “tall grass or weeds” (Gatschet). While the Siouan tribes treated in the foregoing consolidated, after their decline, and joined the Iroquois in the north, most of the remaining people of that stock, including the Sara, migrated southward and merged with the Catawba tribe in South Carolina. The history of the Sara goes back to the earliest Spanish period. In 1540 De Soto, after leaving Cofachiqui (identified as Silver bluff on the Savannah, in Barnwell county, South Carolina), advanced along the border of the Chalaque (Cherokee) country, meeting several small villages of that tribe, and after traveling through a pleasant country for about 50 leagues, equal to about 150 miles, reached the province of “Xuala.” (In writing Indian names the early Spanish authors used x as the equivalent of sh; Xuala of the Spaniards is Suala of Lederer, Suali of the Cherokee, and Saura and Cheraw of later writers.) From the narrative of Garcilaso the Sara must then have lived in the Piedmont Region about the present line between South Carolina and North Carolina, southeast of Asheville, North Carolina....

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The Sewee, Santee, Wateree, and Congaree Indians

The Santee and its branches, the Wateree and the Congaree, were held by the Sewee, Santee, Wateree, and Congaree tribes, whose territory extended to the neighborhood of the Waxhaw and Catawba. Nothing is known of their linguistic affinities, but their alliances and final incorporation were with the Catawba. Sewee Indians The Sewee occupied the coast and the lower part of the river below the Santee, extending westward to the divide of Ashley river about the present Monks Corner, in Berkeley county, South Carolina, where they adjoined the Etiwaw 1Rivers, W. J. A Sketch of the history of South Carolina to the revolution of 1719, with an appendix, p. 37. Charleston 1856. . Their name is preserved in Sewee Bay. Lawson, who met them in 1701, states that they had formerly been a large tribe, but, like the other tribes of Carolina, had been much wasted by smallpox and other diseases, and through the effect of liquor introduced by the whites. The great mortality always produced among them by smallpox was owing chiefly to their universal habit of plunging into the water at the critical stage of the disease in order to ease themselves of the feverish burnings. The destruction of the Sewee was the immediate result of the failure of a great trading scheme which they had elaborated, but which proved disastrous to the originators. Being dissatisfied with the...

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Siouan Migrations and Iroquois Conquests

Horatio Hale, to whom belongs the credit of first discovering a Siouan language on the Atlantic coast, noted the evidences that the Tutelo language was older in its forms than the cognate dialects of the west, and predicted that if this should prove true it would argue against the supposition, which at first seemed natural, that the eastern Siouan tribes were merely offshoots front a western parent stock. Investigation might result in showing that the western Siouan, like the western Algonquian tribes, had their original home in the east. The inference that the region west of the Mississippi was the original home of Siouan tribes, and that those of that stock who dwelt on the Ohio or east of the Alleghanies were emigrants from the western prairies did not, by any means, follow from the fact that the majority of these tribes were now dwellers on the plains, as by the same course of reasoning we might conclude that the Aryan had their original seat in western Europe, that the Portuguese were emigrants from Brazil, or that the English derived their origin from America 1Hale, Horatio. The Tutelo tribe and language: Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. xxi, No. 114, p. 4. Philadelphia, 1883. . As early as 1701 Gravier stated that the Ohio was known to the Miami and Illinois as the “river of the Akansea” –...

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The Southern Atlantic Stocks

When the French and English established their first permanent settlement in America they found the whole country in possession of numerous aboriginal tribes, some large and powerful, others restricted to a single village and its environs. The variety of languages and dialects at first appeared to be well-nigh infinite; but on further acquaintance it was discovered that these were easily reducible to a few primary stocks. Excluding the Eskimo along the northern coast, the first great group comprised the tribes of the Algonquian stock, whose territory on a linguistic map appears like a large triangle, extending on the north from the Atlantic to the Rocky mountains, but gradually narrowing southward until it dwindles to a mere coast strip in Virginia and North Carolina, and finally ends about the mouth of Neuse river. The territory of the next great group, comprising the tribes of the Iroquoian stock, either lay within or bordered on the Algonquian area. Around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, and stretching to a considerable distance inland on either side, were the Iroquois proper, the Huron or Wyandot, and several other closely connected_ tribes; on the lower Susquehanna were the Conestoga or Susquehanna, and their allies; on Nottoway and Meherrin rivers, in Virginia, were tribes bearing the names of those streams, and on the lower Neuse, in North Carolina, were the Tuskarora; while on the southwest, in the...

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The Pedee, Waccamaw, And Winyaw; The Hooks and Backhooks Indians

These small tribes lived on the lower Pedee and its tributaries in South Carolina and the contiguous border of North Carolina. Nothing is known of their language and very little can now be learned of their former daily life or their religious system of belief, as they were never prominent in history. For the “Hooks” and “Backhooks” there is only the authority of Lawson, who mentions them as enemies of the Santee, living in the earliest part of the eighteenth century about the mouth of Winyaw River, i. e., Winyah bay, South Carolina 1Lawson, John. The history of Carolina, containing the exact description and natural history of that country, etc., p. 45. (Reprint from the London edition of 1714.) Raleigh, 1860. . The names have a suspicious appearance, as though badly corrupted from their proper forms. Rivers, perhaps from original information, makes them Hooks and Back Hooks, which, if correct, may indicate that the former lived nearer the coast and the others back of them. The Waccamaw lived on the river of that name, which enters the Pedee from the north almost at its mouth. The Winyaw lived on the western side of the Pedee near its mouth. Black river, a lower tributary of the Pedee from the west, was formerly called Wenee River, probably another form of the same word, and Winyah bay still preserves their memory. The...

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The Saponi and Tutelo Indians

The Tutelo and Saponi tribes must be considered together. Their history under either name begins in 1670. As already stated, Monahassanugh and Nahyssan are other forms of Yesan, the name given to themselves by the last surviving Tutelo, and which seems to have been the generic term used by all the tribes of this connection to designate them as a people. The name Saponi (Monasickapanough?) was generally limited to a particular tribe or aggregation of tribal remnants, while the Iroquois name Tutelo, Totero, or Todirich-roone, in its various forms, although commonly used by the English to designate a particular tribe, was really the generic Iroquois term for all the Siouan tribes of Virginia and Carolina, including even the Catawba. In 1722 the remnants of all the tribes of Virginia and the adjacent parts of Carolina, included under this general designation by the Iroquois, had been gathered at Fort Christanna and were commonly known collectively as Christanna Indians or Saponi. After their removal to the Iroquois country in the north the Iroquois collective term, Tutelo, became more prominent. In deference to Hale, who first established their Siouan affinity, we have chosen to use the form Tutelo, although Totero is more in agreement with the old authorities. With the Iroquois it takes the tribal suffix rone, as Todirich roone. Hale states that, so far as known, the name has no meaning...

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The Monacan Confederacy

The history of the Monacan tribes of Virginia belongs to two distinct periods, the colonization period and the colonial period. By the former we may understand the time of exploration and settlement from the first landing of the English in Virginia to the expeditions of Lederer and Batts, in 1670 and 1671, which supplied the first definite information in regard to the country along the base of the mountains. Under the colonial period we may include everything else, as after the Revolution the small remnant incorporated with the Iroquois in Canada virtually disappeared from history. Up to 1670 the Monacan tribes had been but little disturbed by the whites, although there is evidence that the wars waged against them by the Iroquois were keeping them constantly shifting about. Their country had not been penetrated, excepting by a few traders who kept no journals, and only the names of those living immediately on the frontiers of Virginia were known to the whites. Chief among these were the Monacan proper, having their village a short distance above Richmond. In 1670 Lederer crossed the country in a diagonal line from the present Richmond to Catawba river, on the frontiers of South Carolina, and a year later a party under Batts explored the country westward across the Blue ridge to the headwaters of New river. Thenceforward accounts were heard of Nahyssan, Sapona, Totero,...

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The Occaneechi Indians

The history of the Occaneechi is so closely interwoven with that of the Saponi and Tutelo that little remains to be said of them as a distinct tribe. Their history begins with Lederer’s journey in 1670. After leaving the Saponi, who lived then, as has been stated, on a tributary of the Staunton, he went, as he says, about 50 miles south by west of the Saponi village and thus arrived next at the “Akenatzy” village (Latin pronunciation), situated on an island in another branch of Roanoke river. His estimate of the distance is too great, as usual, and the direction was rather east than west of south of the Saponi. There can be no question of the location of the Occaneechi village, as the island retained the name long after the tribe had abandoned it. It was on the middle and largest island, just below the confluence of the Staunton and the Dan, and just above the present Clarksville, Mecklenburg County, Virginia. He described the island as small, though having a large population, well protected by natural defenses of a swift river current on all sides, with mountains or high hills round about. The fields of the Indians were on the northern bank of the river, and they raised immense crops of corn, having always on hand a year’s supply of provisions as a reserve in case of...

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Other South Carolina Tribes

Santee and Congaree rivers probably formed the approximate southern limit of the Siouan tribes of the east. There is no reason for assigning to this stock any tribes farther southward along the Atlantic coast. As the history of all these Indians is closely interwoven, however, a few notes on the remaining tribes of South Carolina between Santee and Savannah rivers may properly be introduced. Cherokee Indians The Cherokee tribe, of Iroquoian stock, occupied the territory of what are now the seven upper counties along the Savannah, extending down to the mouth of Broad river. Being a well-known tribe, with an extensive territory embracing large portions of several present states, nothing more need be said of these Indians here. This is but a short snippet of information. To read more about the Cherokee Indians we suggest you start with our Cherokee Tribe page. Shawano Indians Below the Cherokee territory on the Savannah there was an important band of the Shawano, locally known as Savannah Indians, of Algonquian stock, having their principal village nearly opposite Augusta. The river takes its name from the tribe. They moved northward into Pennsylvania about the year 1700. This is but a short snippet of information. To read more about the Shawano, or otherwise known as Shawnee Indians we suggest you start with our Shawnee Tribe page. Uchi Indians Lower down on both sides of the...

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The Paskagula, Moctobi, and Chozetta Indians

The Paskagula (Pascagoula) and Moctobi tribes are mentioned by Iberville 1Margry, Pierre. Découvertes et établissements des Français dans l’ouest et dans le sud de l’Amérique septentrionale (1614-1754). Mémoires et documents originaux; D’Iberville (1699), vol. iv, 1880, p. 195. Recueillis et publiés par Pierre Margry. 6 vols. Paris, 1875-’86. in 1699 as living on Pascagoula river near the coast of Mississippi, associated with the Biloxi, each of the three tribes, although but few in numbers, having its own village. As the French settlement on Biloxi bay was made in that year, this date probably marks the beginning of their displacement and removal westward. We know nothing of their language, but from their intimate connection then and afterward with the Biloxi, it is very possible that they were cognate. The name of the Moctobi seems to have disappeared from the earth, as repeated personal inquiry among the Choctaw and Caddo has failed to elicit any knowledge of such a tribe. It is quite probable that the form given in Margry is a misprint or other corruption, as we find the misprint form, Pascoboula, in the same reference. The Paskagula are better remembered. The name is not their own, but was given to them by the Choctaw, and signifies “bread people,” from parka “bread” and okla “people.” It has been retained as the name of the river in Mississippi on which they formerly...

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Siouan Tribes of the East

The Siouan Tribes of the East was Mooney’s most speculative work. He began the shorter monograph even before he finished writing his study of the Ghost Dance. An indication of his maturing scholarship was his increasing ability to carry on separate lines of research simultaneously. The study had its roots in the work he accomplished thus far on the Indian synonymy, and in the extensive review of the literature of early exploration most recently incorporated in his article on the Potamic tribes. His inspiration came from the linguistic work done in the early 1880’s by Albert Gatschet, his friend and colleague at the bureau.

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The Keyauwee Indians

The name of the Keyauwee has no connection with that of Kecowee town of the Cherokee on Keowee River, in western South Carolina, nor apparently with that of Kiawah Island, south of Charleston. Of their language nothing remains, but the evidence of alliance and history goes to show that they were Siouan. They were never prominent as a separate tribe. In 1701 Lawson found them in a palisaded village about 5 miles beyond “Heighwaree” (Uharie) river, and near another stream which was probably Deep river. The village was about 30 miles northeast of the Yadkin, and must have been about the present High point in Guilford county, North Carolina. It was shut in by high hills or mountains, nearly bare of timber or grass, being composed of a reddish earth from which the Indians obtained their mineral paint. In one of these mountains was a large cave. Around the village were large fields of corn. At that time they were about equal to the Saponi in number, and were ruled by Keyauwee Jack, who was by birth a Congaree, but had obtained the chieftainship by marriage with the queen. Lawson describes the daughter of this queen as a beautiful girl, with an air of majesty not common among Indians. She treated his party kindly, and they were well entertained during their stay. Most of the men of this tribe...

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Local Names

Local Names From Siouan Tribal Names in Virginia and Carolinas Catawba A river of North Carolina and South Carolina, known as the Wateree in its lower course, joining with the Congaree to form the Santee. A creek in Botetourt county, Virginia. A county of North Carolina. A town of Catawba county, North Carolina A town of Roanoke county, Virginia. A town of Marion county, West Virginia. Catawba Junction; a town in York county, South Carolina. Catawba Springs; a town in Lincoln county, North Carolina. Little Catawba or South Catawba; a tributary of the Catawba from the west, in North Carolina. Congaree A river in South Carolina, joining with the Wateree to form the Santee. A town in Orangeburg county, South Carolina; also a town in Richland county, South Carolina. Eno A river joining the Neuse in Durham county, North Carolina. Enoree; a river joining the Congaree from the west in South Carolina. Enno; a town in Wake county, North Carolina. Monacan Manakin; a town in Goochland county, Virginia, 17 miles west of Richmond, and about the site of the ancient Monacan village. Occaneechi Occaneeche hills; south of Hillsboro and on opposite side of Eno river, in Orange county, North Carolina. Occoneechee; a township in Northampton county, North Carolina. Occanuchee; a neck or bend in Roanoke river, Northampton county, North Carolina. Pedee A township in Montgomery county, North Carolina. A...

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