South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II
THE INDIANS OF SOUTH CAROLINA

ON THE BASIS of language, ethnologists divide the American Indians living north of Mexico into about sixty stocks which are subdivided into about a hundred and sixty-five tribes. The stocks represented among the Indians that formerly inhabited South Carolina are the Iroquoian, the Siouan, the Muskhogean, the Yuchian, and the Algonkian. All but a few small or briefly resident tribes are assigned to the first three of these stocks, which thus comprise almost all the Indians who formerly lived within the present South Carolina. These three, extending far beyond Carolina, are the richest of all the stocks north of Mexico in literary and historical records and are also the largest and strongest.

Northeast of the Catawba-Santee waterway were the numerous tribes of the Siouan stock, the southern portion of the great mass of Siouan tribes extending in a long narrowing triangle to the Potomac above Washington. South of the Congaree-Santee were a number of little Muskhogean tribes, a stock extending beyond the Mississippi. The northwest third of the State was occupied by the Cherokees, of Iroquoian stock, the most powerful of the tribes occupying her borders in historic times, though barely able to hold their own with the shrewd and warlike Creeks, the great Muskhogean confederation extending across Georgia and Alabama and meeting the Chickasaws of northern Mississippi and western Tennessee and the formidable Choctaws (both fellow Muskhogeans) in the south of the present Mississippi. The Cherokees were mountaineers, inhabiting very scatteringly an area of about 40,000 square miles in the extreme northwestern corner of South Carolina, northern Georgia, western North Carolina, and eastern Tennessee; but in addition to the territory over which their villages were scattered, they generally made good their claim to vast hunting grounds of about ten times this extent spreading into eight modern states.

The tribes of the low country were numerous and small; those of the up country, few and generally large. Any exact location of many of them is impossible, for the ranges of the smaller ones were vague. An idea of the general location of many tribes may be derived from the streams bearing their names. But caution is necessary here, for tribes frequently extended along only part of a river and sometimes shifted

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South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948
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