National Native American Month

Once upon a time, Native Americans roamed the wetlands, fished the estuaries, and camped along our riverbanks. Many small Native American groups lived in the area. These former residents left behind shell middens, pottery shards, and their words upon our landscape: Wimbee, Combahee, Kussoh, Yamasee, Pocotaligo, Coosawhatchie, Daufuskie, Salkehatchie. The groups were rather small and unorganized, key factors in the ability of European newcomers to successfully take advantage of them.

Interested in learning more about the Yamassee, the PeeDee, the Cusabo, the Etiwans, etc. to honor the history and culture of South Carolina based Native American tribes?

Here are a few suggestions to help you celebrate National Native American Month!

1. Drop by the Research Room to see the display of just a few of the many materials we have on the tribes present in this area during the colonial period.

2. Review the lists mentioned below to pick out the items you'd like to use in order to delve a little deeper into the history of Native Americans who were here when the Europeans began arriving in the early 16th century. Some of the materials are available thorough the "Local History" sections of our branch libraries.

3. Visit some of the websites I recommend below to learn more. This you can do from the privacy of your home or office, any time day or night, in whatever state of dress or undress, you like!

A good portal to online information about the various South Carolina based tribes can be found on SCiway.

The black and white drawings of the Indians used in the display case can be found online in the "History of South Carolina Slide Collection," a part of Knowitall. Although Knowitall is designed to support K-12 curriculum, there is plenty of information for the lifelong learner about a broad variety of historical, cultural, and environmental topics important to our state's past and future.

We posted a "Recommended Reading" list of our Beaufort County Library materials about the local Native Americans on the internet in 2008. More than 2000 people have consulted the list thus far. A slightly different presentation of materials available though the BCL about local Native American groups is delivered through the "Pathfinder to Materials about Lowcountry South Carolina Indians."

View Yamasee Indian artifacts on Beaufort County Library's Local History & Nature page on Altamaha.

For those interested in learning more about tribes in other parts of the the Western hemisphere, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian has a fabulous series of online exhibitions. Not to be outdone, the Library of Congress has posted a series of links to exhibits and collections, including online audio, photographs, and video files. (Unfortunately, our little tribes are not mentioned, but even so, the online resources from NMAI and LOC are wonderful.)

Spend a few minutes -- or a few hours -- a few days -- or more than a few years -- exploring the great diversity among the Native American tribes.

About the Author

Grace Cordial has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the Beaufort District Collection at the Beaufort County Library since 1999.  The Beaufort District Collection exists to acquire, preserve, maintain and make accessible a research collection of permanent value which records the history, culture, and environment of our part of the South Carolina lowcountry.  Besides the research room, Cordial manages the “Virtual BDC:” the BDC web pages, the Online Obituary Index, two digital collections, a new BDC.BCL Facebook page, and the Connections blog.  
Among her duties is to coordinate or present programs about local history, Gullah culture, and our coastal environment, including occasional instructional sessions about how to perform historical and/or genealogical research.