Carolina - The Native Americans

The Tutelo Indians

The significance of the name Tutelo is unknown but used by the Iroquois, who seem to have taken it from some southern tongue. Also called: Kattera, another form of Tutelo; Shateras, a third form of the name.

The Tutelo belonged to the Siouan linguistic family, their nearest connections being the Saponi and probably the Monacan.

The oldest known town site of the Tutelo was near Salem, VA, though the Big Sandy River at one time bore their name and may have been an earlier seat. This tribe lived for a while on the upper Yadkin River and later in Bertie County of present-day North Carolina.

In 1671, Fallam and Batts visited the town above mentioned. Some years later the Tutelo moved to an island in the Roanoke River just above the Occaneechi, but in 1701, Lawson found them still farther southwest, probably about the headwaters of the Yadkin.

From that time forward they accompanied the Saponi until the latter tribe separated from them at Niagara as above noted.

In 1771, they were settled on the east side of Cayuga Inlet about three miles from the south end of the lake. This village was destroyed by Sullivan in 1779, but the Tutelo continued to live among the Cayuga sufficiently apart to retain their own language until 1898, when the last individual who could speak it fluently died. A certain amount of Tutelo blood flows in the veins of some of the Iroquois.

Population. (See Saponi.) In 1701-9, according to Lawson, the Tutelo, Saponi, Keyauwee, Occaneechi, and Shakori numbered together about 750.

In 1715, Virginia Governor Spotswood reported that the Indians at Fort Christanna, including the Tutelo, Saponi, Occaneechi, and Manahoac, numbered 300.

In 1763, the Tutelo, Saponi, Nanticoke, and Conoy had 200 men, probably less than 1,000 souls.

The Tutelo are noteworthy chiefly as the principal body of Siouan Indians from Virginia to retain their integrity and preserve a knowledge of their language late enough for a permanent record of it to be made.


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