Santee Indians – Native Americans in SC

South Carolina SC Native Americans SC Indian Tribes SC Santee Indians

Name, Language – Santee Indians

  • Alternate spellings: Zantee, Seretee, Seratee, Sattee – also the name of a Dakota Sioux tribe that lives on a reservation in Nebraska
  • Possible meanings: "People of the river," from iswan'ti, which means "the river" or "the river is there"
  • Language family: Siouan

Current Status – Santee Indians

  • Active - Santee Indian Organization as a state recognized tribe and seeking federal recognition.

Contact Information – Santee Indians

  • Santee Indian Organization - state recognized tribe
    432 Bayview Street
    Holly Hill, SC 29059
    Phone: 803-308-7991

  • Santee Indian Nation of South Carolina
    208 Foster Mill Circle
    Pauline, SC 29374
    Phone: 864-541-8759

SC Location, Territory – Santee Indians

Related SC Names – Santee Indians

Population Estimates – Santee Indians

  • 1600: 3,000+
  • 2000: 6,000

History – Santee Indians

  • The Santee first encountered Europeans in the 1660s when a Spanish explorer sailed up the Santee River.

  • The tribe fought with the British against the North Carolina Tuscarora in the Tuscarora Wars during 1711.

  • From 1715 to 1716, they fought with other tribes against the British in the Yemassee War and were defeated.

  • The tribe was attacked by coastal tribes in 1716, possibly the Cusabo, who attempted to remove them on behalf of the colonists. Many Santee were captured and sent to the West Indies as slaves. Remaining Santee fled to Hickerau, the spiritual place of the Santee, located near present-day Elloree.

  • Many Santee moved to Oklahoma in 1853 as part of the Catawba. Some remained in South Carolina.

  • Santee mounds are located in Orangeburg. Excavation led to repatriation of ancestral remains.

  • The Santee also maintained a ceremonial and burial mound in what is now the Santee National Wildlife Refugee.

Dwellings – Santee Indians

  • Spanish accounts from the 1660s stated they lived in bark and mud-covered huts on the banks of the Santee River.

Food – Santee Indians

  • Farming: Corn, beans, squash, greens, peaches, melons, tobacco, and pumpkins. Gathered wild nuts and berries

  • Fishing: Variety of fish from the Santee River

  • Hunting: Deer, raccoons, geese, and turkeys

Clothing – Santee Indians

  • Men: Loincloth and moccasins

  • Women: Skirts and moccasins. Ceremonial dresses were decorated with wood, clay, and seed-type beads, as well as turkey feathers. The women of high social standing wore dresses decorated with hawk feathers.

  • Special clothing was decorated mainly with turkey and hawk feathers, but feathers from other birds were also used and everyday clothing was not decorated. All clothing was made from deerskins. Both men and women were bare from the waist up.

Beliefs and Practices – Santee Indians

  • The Santee had elaborate burial rituals. They buried chiefs, shaman, and warriors on earthen mounds. A structure made of wooden poles was placed on top of the mound to protect the body. Relatives hung offerings such as rattles and feathers on the poles. The height of the burial mound indicated the importance of the deceased. Common people were buried by wrapping their bodies in bark and setting them upon platforms. The closest relative of the deceased would paint their face black and keep a vigil at the grave for several days. After a time, corpses were removed from the burial site and their bones and skull were cleaned. Families placed the bones of loved ones in a box and cleaned and oiled them each year.

  • At places where a warrior was killed, the Santee would make a marker of stones or sticks. Each time the site was passed by a Santee, they were expected to add a stone or stick in remembrance of the fallen.

Related Santee Indian Resources

  • Santee Facts - published 1920 - click link, then scroll down
  • Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1984, p. 98.
  • Tower, Christopher "Santee." Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998, pp. 471-72.

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