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South Carolina – Indians, Native Americans – Cusabo


South Carolina SC Native Americans SC Indian Tribes SC Cusabo Indians

Name, Language

Subtribes

Current Status

SC Location, Territory

Population Estimates

  • 1600: 3200 (all tribes)
  • 1715: 535 (all tribes)

History

  • The Cusabo were a family of tribes along the South Carolina coast, including the Ashepoo, Combahee, Coosa, Edisto, Escamacu, Etiwan, Kiawah, Stono, Wando, and Wimbee.

  • The aggressive Yuchi tribe, known to the Cusabo tribes as the Westo, moved to the banks of the Savannah and raided neighboring villages in 1661.

  • In 1670, the Cusabo tribes were victims of devastating raids by the Yuchi. That same year a permanent English colony, Charles Towne, was established on Cusabo land. Cusabo tribes established close ties with the English.

  • Conflicts between the settlers and Indians in 1671 resulted in the short-lived Coosa War.

  • In 1674, the Stono tribe attempted to enlist the Cusabo tribes in a rebellion against the colonists. They were possibly joined by the Coosa. The brief Stono War resulted in many Indians being taken to the West Indies as slaves. Slavery of Indians was officially sanctioned by the colony around this time, probably due to the Coosa and Stono uprisings.

  • Large tracts of land were ceded to the colonists by Cusabo chiefs from 1675 to 1682.

  • From 1711 to 1712, the Cusabo warriors fought with Colonel Barnwell against the Tuscarora of North Carolina in the Tuscarora War.

  • Colonists granted them Palawana Island, near St Helena Island, where many Cusabo were already living in 1712.

  • Cusabo tribes sided with the English in 1715 against other Indian tribes in the Yemassee War.

  • The Cusabo disappeared from Palawana Island in 1738.

  • By 1750, the tribes no longer existed. Surviving members most likely merged with the Catawba or the Creek of Georgia.

Dwellings

  • Homes: Circular in design, they were made of bent poles covered with bark from either cypress or white cedar. Moss or clay was added for further insulation.
  • Villages: Usually surrounded by a protective wall or palisade, villages consisted of several homes and a council house for tribal meetings. A plaza was often cleared outside the council house where dances and games took place.

Food

  • Farming: Corn, beans, squash, and melons. Maintained orchards of peaches and plums
  • Fishing: Variety of freshwater fish
  • Hunting: Deer, bear, elk, wild turkey, and smaller game

Clothing

  • Men: Loin cloth made of deerskin. Face and body painting was important and designs varied in times of war and peace.
  • Women: Knee-length skirts of deerskin. Women wore their long hair pulled back and adorned it with shells, beads, and feathers.
  • Pants, leggings, and capes made of various animal hides were worn in the winter and for travel by both men and women. Tattooing of the face and body was common among both as well.

Beliefs and Practices

  • The Cusabo belief system was similar to other southeastern tribes in that it valued order and saw chaos as harmful or evil.
  • Ritual healing was practiced by village priests. The Cusabo believed that the spirit and body were closely linked, one could not be healed without healing the other.
  • In addition to dances, the tribes often gathered for ball games.

Related Cusabo Indian Resources

  • Cusabo Facts - published 1920 - click link, then scroll down
  • Jersyk, Julie "Cusabo." Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998, pp. 424-26.
  • Leitch, Brabara "Cusabo." A Concise Dictionary of Indian Tribes of North America. Algonac, MI: Reference Publications, 1979, pp. 144-45.
  • Milling, Chapman J. Red Carolinians. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1969, pp. 35-64.
  • Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Instition Press, 1984, pp. 94-96.

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