NIU Libraries Digitization Projects
Lincoln/Net Prairie Fire Illinois During the Civil War Illinois During the Gilded Age Mark Twain's Mississippi Back to Digitization Projects Contact Us
BACK

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html


Previous section

Chapter II. — The Tribal Relations of the Carolina Indians to the Leading Ethnographic Families of the Country.

South Carolina was occupied, in 1670, ten years before Pennsylvania. North Carolina dates from the year 1664. Before bringing to a close our narrative of the transactions which occurred during the seventeenth century, it will be important to take a cursory glance at the families of Indian tribes located along the sea-coasts, and in the interior of the Carolinas. The Indians informed the Spaniards who visited their shores early in the sixteenth century, that the name of the country was Chicora, whence their visitors called them Chicoreans, at present supposed to have been identical with the people now known as Corees, Catawbas, &c. Of the ancient existence of the elements of such a group, we have, however, but little evidence beyond their geographical names. The most important of the tribes who resided in South Carolina, at the time of its settlement, were the Catawbas, and the Cherokees. The Catawbas could muster nearly 1500 warriors, indicating a population of about 7500 souls. They were a fierce, subtle, warlike, and brave people, and comprised twenty-eight subordinate tribes: the Westoes, Stonoes, Coosaws, Sewees, Yamasees, Santees,
Congarees, &c. The Cherokees occupied the upper parts of the State, extending their possessions to the head waters of the Savannah, Coosahatchee, Alabama, Tennessee, and Cumberland. 216

North Carolina was included in the general, but undefined area of Virginia, which was first discovered by the parties sent out under the grant made to Raleigh in 1586, and may, at an earlier period, have contained some portions of the adventurous population of southern Virginia, who, it is conjectured, might have retired thither after its successful colonization. But the Indian residents of the Carolinas appear to have been regarded as little more than incumbrances upon the land, to be evicted as easily and as speedily as possible. The earliest accounts 217 scarce make any mention of them, which may be, in some measure, attributed to the fact, that in those historical sketches published in London, with the view of directing attention to emigration, the inducements for it would not have been enhanced by the introduction of such a topic. The age of

-- 180 --

philanthropy for aboriginal or savage tribes, in any part of the globe, had hardly yet arrived. At any rate, but little can be gleaned from the details of the political and commercial plans of colonization of the period.

The Carolina tribes eagerly availed themselves of the conveniences, luxuries, and indulgences, introduced from Europe; and in an almost incredibly short time, the little clans and chieftainships, which stretched along the shores, became extinct.

Dr. Hewit, an early historian, remarks that, attempts were made to shield them against unjust encroachments, and to protect their rights. 218 He thus writes: "Plans of lenity were, with respect to those Indian tribes, likewise adopted by government, and every possible precaution was taken to guard them against oppression, and prevent any rupture with them. Experience had shown that rigorous measures, such as humbling them by force of arms, were not only very expensive and bloody, but disagreeable to a humane and generous nation, and seldom accompanied with any good effects. Such ill treatment rendered the savages cruel, suspicious and distrustful, and prepared them for renewing hostilities, by keeping alive their ferocious and warlike spirit. Their extirpation, even though it could easily be completed, would be a cruel act, and all the while the growth and prosperity of the settlements would be much retarded by the attempt. Whereas, by treating Indians with gentleness and humanity, it was thought they would by degrees lose their savage spirit, and become more harmless and civilized. It was hoped that, by establishing a fair and free trade with them, their rude temper would in time be softened, their manners altered, and their wants increased; and, instead of implacable enemies, ever bent on destruction, they might be rendered good allies, both useful and beneficial to the trade of the nation.

"It has been remarked, that those Indians on the continent of America, who were, at the time of its discovery, a numerous and formidable people, have, since that period, been constantly decreasing, and melting away like snow upon the mountains. For this rapid depopulation many reasons have been assigned. It is well known, that population everywhere keeps pace with the means of subsistence. Even vegetables spring and grow in proportion to the richness of the soil in which they are planted, and to the supplies they receive from the nourishing rains and dews of heaven; animals flourish or decay according as the means of subsistence abound or fail; and, as all mankind partake of the nature of both, they also multiply or decrease as they are fed, or have provision in plenty, luxury excluded. The Indians being driven from their possessions near the sea, as the settlements multiplied, were robbed of many necessaries of life, particularly of oysters, crabs, and fish, with which the maritime parts furnished them in great abundance, and on which they must have considerably subsisted, as is apparent from a view of their camps, still remaining near the sea shore. The women are not only much disregarded and despised, but also naturally less prolific among rude than

-- 181 --

polished nations. The men being often abroad, at hunting or war, agriculture, which is the chief means of subsistence among a civilized people, is entirely neglected by them, and looked upon as an occupation worthy only of women or slaves. That abstinence and fatigue, which the men endure in their distant excursions, and that gluttony and voraciousness in which they indulge themselves in the times of plenty, are equally hurtful to the constitution, and productive of diseases of different kinds. Now that their territories are circumscribed by narrower bounds, the means of subsistence, derived even from game, is less plentiful. Indeed, scanty and limited are the provisions they raise by planting, even in the best seasons; but, in case of a failure of their crops, or of their fields being destroyed by enemies, they perish in numbers by famine. Their natural passion for war the first European settlers soon discovered, and, therefore, turned the fury of one tribe against another, with a view to save themselves. When engaged in hostilities, they always fought, not so much to humble and conquer, as to exterminate and destroy. The British, the French, and Spanish nations, having planted colonies in their neighborhood, a rivalship for power over them took place, and each nation having its allies among the savages, was zealous and indefatigable in instigating them against the allies of its neighbor. Hence a series of bloody and destructive wars has been carried on among these rude tribes, with all the rage and rancor of implacable enemies.

"But famine and war, however destructive, were not the only causes of their rapid decay. The small-pox having broken out among them, proved exceedingly fatal, both on account of the contagious nature of the distemper, and their harsh and injudicious attempts to cure it, by plunging themselves into cold rivers during the most violent stages of the disorder. The pestilence broke out among some nations, particularly among the Pemblicos in North Carolina, and almost swept away the whole tribe. The practice of entrapping them, which was encouraged by the first settlers in Carolina, and selling them for slaves to the West India planters, helped greatly to thin their nations. But, of all other causes, the introduction of spirituous liquors among them, for which they discovered an amazing fondness, has proved the most destructive. Excess and intemperance not only undermined their constitutions, but also created many quarrels, and subjected them to a numerous list of fatal diseases, to which, in former times, they were perfect strangers. Besides, those Europeans engaged in commercial business with them, generally speaking, have been so far from reforming them, by examples of virtue and purity of manners, that they rather served to corrupt their morals, and render them more treacherous, distrustful, base, and debauched, than they were before this intercourse commenced. In short, European avarice and ambition have not only debased the original nature and stern virtue of that savage race, so that those few Indians that now remain, have lost, in a great measure, their primitive character; but European vice and European diseases, the consequences of vice, have exterminated this people, insomuch that many nations, formerly populous, are totally extinct, and their names entirely forgotten."

-- 182 --

The South Carolina tribes have left but
few traces or monuments of their existence, except the heaps of oyster shells, which are still observable along the alluvial margins of the rivers. From their ancient places of sepulture, the remains of
stone pipes,
amulets, and other
relics of the arts peculiar to a hunter age, are, from time to time, disinterred. There are some mounds still existing on the waters of the Coosahatchee, as at Poketaligo, and on some other streams, which have been but little examined, or the researches have developed nothing of a new character. On the alluvial banks of the Congaree, Mr. Howe has discovered some curious evidences of ancient metallurgic operations, which were, apparently, carried on by the ancient Indians, who also appear to have deposited the bones and ashes of their dead in vases. 219 Mr. Lawson, in his Travels (1700), notices some of the rites and customs, manners and opinions, common to the Santees, and other bands, which convince us that their beliefs and superstitions were similar to those of the more advanced tribes. We are indebted to the same gentleman, also, for our most complete vocabulary of their languages. Their history, however, gives no evidence that they differed from the leading Vesperic groups, except in their names, and in some peculiarities of their dialect, which may be more readily observed in the geographical terminology.

New and interesting details of the history of the Catawbas, have been furnished in a preceding volume, 220 which furnish evidence of our, as yet, imperfect acquaintance with the past emigrations, and interchanges of position among our leading tribes.

When North Carolina was first settled by the whites, there were many small tribes located along the coasts, who numbered, collectively 10,000 souls. 221 The Tuscaroras principally occupied the valley of the Neuse, extending from the sea to the mountains. The unfortunate attempt they made, at a subsequent period, to annihilate the colony by a simultaneous rising, forms one of the most thrilling chapters in North Carolina history. This bold, cruel, and partially unsuccessful, movement, appears to have been a renewal of the project originated by Opechanganough, of Virginia, in 1622; and one cannot help feeling that it was but a rehearsal of the same tragedy enacted in 1590, of which the unfortunate, but lost, colony left at Cape Hatteras, were the victims; the proximity of the Tuscaroras to that location, giving additional countenance to the suggestion. Cusic, in his traditional sketches of the Iroquois, which indicate his profound ignorance of chronology, appears to allude to this, or possibly to some prior event, which occurred in the ante-historical period of American history, wherein a Manteo and his English companions, or a Madoc and his Cambrian followers, may be symbolized. 222

The archaeological remains on Mr. Calhoun's plantation, at Fort Hill, in Pendleton District, and also those of Fort Kienuka, attest the power of the ancient Iroquois in this quarter, and are yet, probably, in a condition to admit of satisfactory examination.

-- 183 --

Previous section


Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe.. History of the Indian Tribes of the United States: Their Present Condition and Prospects, and a Sketch of Their Ancient Status. Volume 6. . Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Co, 1857. [format: book; image], [genre: government document; report]. Permission: Northern Illinois University
Persistent link to this document: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/file.php?file=schoolcraft6.html
Powered by PhiloLogic