Carolina - The Native Americans

The Waccamaw Indians

The meaning of the name Waccamaw is unknown.

Nothing of their tongue has been preserved but evidence points to a connection of the Waccamaw with the Siouan linguistic family, and presumably with the Catawba dialectic group. The Woccon may have been a late subdivision, as Dr. Rights has suggested.

The Waccamaw Indians primarily lived on the Waccamaw River and the lower course of the Pee Dee River in present-day South Carolina. They probably ranged across into North Carolina to the head of the Waccamaw River and Lake Waccamaw.

The Waccamaw were reported to have had six villages in 1715, but none of the names are preserved.

The name of the Waccamaw may perhaps be recorded in the form Guacaya, given by Francisco of Chicora as that of a "province" in this region early in the sixteenth century.

In 1715, the Cheraw attempted to incite them to attack the English, and they joined the hostile party but made peace the same year.

In 1716, a trading post was established in their country at a place called Uauenee (Uaunee, Euaunee), or the Great Bluff, the name perhaps a synonym of Winyaw, at Winyah Bay near present-day Georgetown.

There was a short war between them and the colonists in 1720 in which they lost sixty men, women, and children killed or captured.

In 1755, the Cherokee and Natchez are reported to have killed some PeeDee and Waccamaw in the white settlements.

Ultimately, the Waccamaw Indians may have united with the Catawba, though more probably with the so-called Croatan Indians of North Carolina. There is, however, a body of mixed bloods in their old country to whom the name is applied.

The Waccamaw are estimated by Mooney (1928) at 900 in 1600 along with the Winyaw and some smaller tribes.

The census of 1715 gives 210 men and 610 souls.

In 1720, they are said to have had 100 warriors.

The Waccamaw River in North and South Carolina and Lake Waccamaw in North Carolina, which empties into the river, perpetuate their name.


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