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Origins of South Carolina


State capitol at Columbia
State capitol at Columbia

In prehistory, many Native American peoples lived in South Carolina. Starting about 900 years ago the Mississippian culture, also called Mound Builders, flourished in this region. The Mississippians built great temple mounds, and some can still be seen today. Major nations in the state in 1600 were the Cherokee, of the Iroquoian language stock; the Catawba, speaking a Siouan language; and the Yamasee, speaking a Muskogean language. In 1715 the Yamasee led other peoples in the Yamasee War (1715-1716) against the English settlers. The Yamasee were defeated and driven out of South Carolina. The Cherokee began warring against the settlers about 1760 and sided with the British in the American Revolution (1775-1783). All but a few Cherokee left the state after the revolution.

The Catawba kept friendly relations with the Europeans, but by the end of the 18th century disease and tribal wars reduced them almost to nothing. About 1,400 strong, their descendants now live on a small reservation on the Catawba River. They received an award of $50 million, in settlement of treaty claims, from the Congress of the United States in 1993. The Catawba are noted for their pottery, which is unique in that it survives in an unbroken tradition from the Mississippian culture to the present. The largest organized Native American nation remaining in South Carolina is the PeeDee, 2,500 of whom live in four counties in the northeast. Although they have no reservation, the PeeDee have a representative council and two chiefs: an elected chief and a hereditary chief. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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