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South Carolina Tribes

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For thousands of years before Europeans arrived in present-day South Carolina, South Carolina state was occupied by indigenous people, aboriginals, American Indians, also called Native American Indians or Native Americans. Spanish explorers were the first Europeans to explore the coastal regions of present-day South Carolina. In 1521, Francisco Gordillo sailed to the Carolina coast from his base in Santo Domingo; no settlement was attempted, but several dozen Native Americans were enslaved.

Five years later, Lucas Vásquez de Ayllón sponsored a short-lived effort to settle several hundred persons in the Winyah Bay area (near present-day Myrtle Beach), but unfavorable weather and sickness soon forced a return to Santo Domingo. Nonetheless, later in the 1500s the Spanish established new bases in Florida and spread northward with a string of small settlements. The first Europeans to make contact in South Carolina were the Spanish in 1526. Santa Elena became the capital of La Florida, and was part of the mission concept meant to bring the native population under their control.

The French presence was established in 1562 when Jean Ribault brought a group of French Huguenots to Parris Island, but Spanish power in the area rendered the colony untenable. The French made contact around 1562 and established Charlesfort on present day Parris Island, but it was soon abandoned. A result of early exploration and settlement attempts was a severe reduction in Native American populations from the introduction of European and African diseases.

The English claim to the area arrived with the 1497 voyage of John Cabot, but efforts to colonize did not occur for more than 130 years. In 1629, a grant was awarded to Sir Robert Heath, which included today's North and South Carolina and all land westward to the Pacific Ocean. No settlement activity took place under Heath and in 1663, the lands were granted to eight of Charles II's most loyal supporters, the "lords proprietors."

Over 29 distinct groups of Indians lived within South Carolina when the first English colony was established in 1670. These groups are/were called tribes, nations, bands and villages. Today, the many places in South Carolina that bear the names of tribes attest to the important role Indians played in the state's history. Colonization by the British in late 1600s. Trading posts, such as Ninety-Six were, established to trade deer skins. The English Colonial economy thrived on the deerskin trade and slave-labor plantations. Tensions between colonists and Native Americans led to the Yamasee War and between 1715 and 1717, various tribes from the southeast such as the Cherokee and Pee Dee, attacked colonial settlements in South Carolina in an effort to force the colonists to leave.

A list of American Indians who have lived in South Carolina has been compiled by John R. Swanton in his The Indian Tribes of North America. Many of the tribes in this list may have had very limited contact with the area which became South Carolina. Some have become extinct or have been consolidated with other tribes. And some may simply be variant spellings.


Catawba, Cherokee, Chiaha, Chickasaw, Congaree, Creek, Cusabo, Eno, Keyauwee, Natchez, Pedee, Pedee (Upper SC), Saluda, Santee, Sewee, Shakori, Shawnee, Sissipahaw, Sugaree, Waccamaw, Wassamasaw, Wateree, Waxhaw, Winyaw, Yamasee, Yuchi

* Other tribes may have also been residents of the area of South Carolina, at least for a short time.

Recognition of Native American Indian tribes acknowledges the right of sovereignty and self government. There are two levels of recognition: federal and state. At the federal level, recognition puts tribal governments at the same level as state governments with their rights to tax, make and enforce laws, and regulate activities. At the state level of recognition, tribal governments are equal to county governments. Recognition, at either level, allows for tribes to determine requirements for membership.



State of South Carolina Recognized Native American Indian entities:

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Pursuant to SC Code of Laws Section 1-31-40(A)(10) and SC Code of Regulations Chapter 139, the State of South Carolina recognizes three categories of Native American Indian entities in South Carolina: Native American Indian Tribes, Native American Indian Groups, and Native American Indian Special Interest Organizations.

Federal agencies could identify these entities as additional consulting parties (36 CFR 800.2(c)(5)) and invite them to participate in Section 106 consultation.

Visit the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs website for additional information about state recognition and about non-recognized Native American Indian entities in the state.



State Recognized Native American Indian Tribes:


Chaloklowa Chickasaw Indian People

Eastern Cherokee, Southern Iroquois and United Tribes of SC

Beaver Creek Indians

Edisto Natchez Kusso Tribe of South Carolina

Pee Dee Nation of Upper South Carolina

Pee Dee Indian Tribe of South Carolina

Santee Indian Organization

The Waccamaw Indian People

Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians

Natchez Tribe of South Carolina

Pee Dee Indian Tribe of Beaver Creek

Piedmont American Indian Association – LECN of South Carolina



Today, the Indian tribes that remain in the Southeast maintain a balance between traditional and modern ways of life. In South Carolina, there are many Native American Indian groups, communities, nations, organizations and tribal entities that are organized and Chartered in the state by The secretary of State Jim Miles Office.

There are approximately 30,000 South Carolinians of Native American Indian descent and their distinct cultural communities. (US Census 2010)

The present Organizations, Tribes, entities and nations in South Carolina are as follows:

500nations.com

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs


CLICK HERE to download contact list for tribes without websites.