Carolina - The Native Americans

The Sewee Indians

The name Sewee perhaps, as Gatschet suggested, comes from from sawe', "island."

No words of their language have survived, but the Sewee are regarded as Siouan on strong circumstantial grounds, in spite of the fact that they are sometimes classed with the Cusabo.

The Sewee Indians primarily lived on the lower course of Santee River and the coast westward to the divide of the of Ashley River near present-day Moncks Corner, Berkeley County, South Carolina.

Villages: Lawson, writing about 1700, mentions a deserted village in Sewee Bay called Avendaughbough which may have belonged to them. The name seems to be still preserved in the form Awensdaw.

Possibly Xoxi (pronounced Shoshi or Shohi), one of the provinces mentioned by Francisco of Chicora, an Indian carried from this region by the Spaniards in 1521, is a synonym of Sewee.

The name is mentioned by Captain Eçija in 1609.

They may have been the Indians first met by the English expedition which founded the colony of South Carolina in 1670, when they were in Sewee Bay.

They assisted the English against the Spanish, and supplied them with corn.

Lawson states that they were formerly a large tribe, but in his time, 1700, were wasted by smallpox and indulgence in alcoholic liquors. Moreover, a large proportion of the able-bodied men had been lost at sea in an attempt to open closer trade relations with England.

Just before the Yamasee War (1715-1716), they were still living in their old country in a single village, but it is probable that the war put an end to them as a distinct tribe. The remnant may have united with the Catawba.

Mooney (1928) gives an estimate of 800 Sewee for the year 1600.

In 1715 there were but 57.

At an earlier period this name was applied to the body of water now called Bulls Bay. There is a post hamlet with this designation in Meigs County, TN, but the name is probably of independent origin.


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