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South Carolina

South Carolina – Indians, Native Americans – Yemassee

South Carolina SC Native Americans SC Indian Tribes SC Yemassee Indians

Name, Language

  • Alternate spellings: Yamasee
  • Possible meanings: Gentle
  • Language family: Muskogean

Current Status

  • Active - in Allendale and as the Yamassee Indian Tribe (The Yamassee Nation) which is not a state nor a federally recognized organization. Others may have formed the Oklevueha Band of Yamassee Seminole in Florida and the Altamaha Yamassee Indians in Georgia.

SC Location, Territory

  • Traditional: Near the mouth of the Savannah River in Beaufort and Jasper counties. Altamaha Town along the Okatie River was the principal settlement.
  • A 1707 state act defined the boundaries of the 'Yamosee Settlement' as being the area from the Combahee River on the north to the Coosaw, Port Royal and Savannah Rivers on the south (The Statutes at Large of South Carolina: Acts from 1682 to 1716, p. 641).

Related SC Names

Population Estimates

  • 1650: 2000 approximately
  • 1715: 1215


  • Offended by the Spanish Governor from 1684 to 1685 in their home of Georgia, the Yemassee moved to South Carolina and were given land at the mouth of the Savannah River.

  • 87 warriors fought with the colonists in the Tuscarora War of 1712.

  • Angered by unfair trade practices, slavery and whipping of Indians, and encroachment on their land, the Yemassee and several other Indian tribes rose against the British and killed approximately 100 settlers in 1715. They were defeated by Governor Craven and fled to Florida. The uprising becomes known as the Yemassee War.


  • Huts made of logs with thatched, palmetto roofs. Round community building or town house in the center of town.


  • Farming:
  • Fishing: native species
  • Hunting: deer, bear

Beliefs and Practices

  • Indian mounds used as burial sites

Related Yemassee Indian Resources

  • Yemassee nation composed of two separate nations - outlines history and locations tribe settled
  • County spends $3.1M to protect Yemassee Indian site - area now called Altamaha Town Heritage Preserve
  • The Yamassee - except from South Carolina Story Student Edition textbook
  • Hudson, Charles. The Southeastern Indians. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1976.
  • Hudson, Charles and Carmen Chaves Tesser. The Forgotten Centuries: Indians and Europeans in the American South, 1521-1704. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.
  • Milling, Chapman J. Red Carolinians. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1969.
  • Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Instition Press, 1984.
  • Wright, James Leitch. The Only Land They Knew: The Tragic Story of the American Indians in the Old South. New York: The Free Press, 1981.

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