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South Carolina

SC Native Americans – Wassamasaw Indian Nation

South Carolina SC Native Americans SC Indian Tribes SC Wassamasaw Indians

Name, Language

  • Alternate spellings: Wasamasaw may have been the orginial spelling, but over time it has changed to Wassamasaw.

  • Possible meanings: Wassamasaw may mean "connecting water" and refer to the swamp at the Black Tom Bay near Lake Moultrie, which continues into the Cypress Swamp, and then into the Ashley River.

  • Language family: Muskogean

Current Status

  • Active – The Wassamasaw Indian Nation filed a petition April 1, 2012 to be recognized as a Native American Indian Tribe in South Carolina but are non-recognized as of September 2013.

    Like the Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown, the Wassamasaw Indian Nation are descendants of the Etiwan.

Contact Information

SC Location, Territory

Population Estimates


  • The Wassamasaw Indian Nation are descendants of the Etiwan tribe, which were members of the Cusabo family of tribes.


Food, Traditional

    (Submitted by Lisa A. McQueen-Starling, 2013)

  • Farming –
  • Fishing – Because fishing poles weren't around several hundred years ago, the male native Indians went spear fishing and the women used a simple system of a string with a hook on the end. Women were not allowed to use spears to fish because it was the job for the males in the tribes.
  • Hunting – The men would hunt animals such as deer, rabbit, turkeys, and wild boar. To hunt these animals they would make spears as well as bows and arrows out of wood and stone.

Food, Today

    (Submitted by Lisa A. McQueen-Starling, 2013)

  • Farming – There are still farmers in the community that grow crops like corn, beans, squash, and okra. They dry and can (jar) these food items to save for cold, winter months. Canning has been an important part of our culture. Preserving food, if practiced properly, involves placing foods in jars or similar containers and heating them to a temperature that destroys micro-organisms that cause food to spoil. During this heating process, air is driven out of the jar and as it cools a vacuum seal is formed.
  • Fishing – Is still very important part of our daily life. Fish is a big part of our diet year-round. Although not traditionally permitted, today, many of the women in the tribe fish with the men.
  • Hunting – The present-day Wassamsaw Hunting Club consists of tribal members, including women. The members hunt the same types of animals their ancestors did including deer, rabbit, turkeys, and wild boar. Today, they use 12 gauge 00 buckshot guns and crossbows.

Beliefs and Practices

    (Submitted by Lisa A. McQueen-Starling, 2013)

  • Patience is one of our greatest virtues. In our culture, the virtue of patience is based on the belief that all things unfold in time. Like silence, patience was a survival virtue in earlier times. In social situations, patience is needed to demonstrate respect for individuals, reach group consensus, and allow time for "the second thought."


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