Malinowski, Anna Sheets, Jeffrey Lehman, Melissa Walsh Doig, Editors
GALE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES, VOLUME 1, NORTHEAST, SOUTHEAST AND CARIBBEAN
tribe from Abenaki to Wyandotte in the Northeast; Alabama to Yuchi in the
Southeast; Arawak and Ciboney in the Caribbean is included. This encyclopedia includes wonderful informative articles
about the histories and cultures of the tribes accompanied by complete bibliographical references and "Further Reading" on
each tribal group. We tend to think in terms of a few tribal groups and that can limit our abilities as researchers
to find the real facts. This encyclopedia will open horizons in our genealogical and cultural research.
is an excerpt:
Conner; The Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Vol. 1: New York, NY; page 468-470.
(pee-dee) Indians were a small tribe living on the banks of the Pedee River in coastal South Carolina when English colonists
first arrived. In the most comprehensive study of the Pedee to date, The History of the Old Cheraws, Alexander Gregg
said "of the meaning of 'Pedee,' nothing is known. It has even been made a question whether the name is of Indian origin;
and the opinion has been advanced that it is not." Most likely, the Pedee split from a larger tribe, resettled
on the Pedee River, and adopted its name..
is known of Pedee history and even less of their language, although historians suppose they formed a part of the great southeastern
Siouan tribes. In discussing the Pedee in Red Carolinians, Chapman J. Milling cited James Mooney and others as "establish[ing]chiefly
by linguistic criteria, that these Indians...belonged to the Siouan stock." One explanation for the dearth of information
regarding the Pedee is that they had been reduced to such small numbers by the time of white colonization as to escape inquiry.
Mooney estimated that there were 600 Pedee living in South Carolina in 1600. They are not mentioned in the comprehensive census of 1715.
Though oral accounts from 1808 suggested that there were about 30 Pedee still residing on white settlements, assimilation
into larger tribes such as the Cheraw resulted in the Pedee no longer being considered a distinct group.
there is no extant oral tradition concerning their aboriginal ancestry or origins, information regarding the Pedee before
extensive white contact must be reconstructed through archeological excavations, comparison with their closest neighbors,
and conjecture. Historians concur that the Pedee most likely belong in the Siouan family of tribes, since their traits
so closely resemble those of the Creek, Catawba, and others. It is surmised that the Pedee split from these Siouan ancestors
following their migration to South Carolina, the supposed birthplace of the
Pedee. According to John R. Swanton in Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors, accounts from Spanish
slavers indicate that the Pedee may have been "the first natives of the Carolinas to be visited by the white men."
it is known from field journals and similar sources that the Pedee fought with Captain Bull's troops in the Tuscarora War
(1712) and in the Yamasee War (1715-1716), the first official mention of the Pedee Indians in colonial records is from an
entry for July 16, 1716, in the Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade. The Pedee enjoyed a healthy trade
with their English allies during this period, bartering deer skins, foodstuffs, and wampum for guns and ammunition.
Along with trade agreements, the Pedee also had a peace accord with the colonists whereby the English promised protection
from their enemies and judicial intervention. The Pedee apparently convince their Cheraw neighbors of the benefits of
such a peace, because the entry on February 12, 1717 in the Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian Trade says "Tom
West, a Pedee Indiancome in Behalf of the Charraws to conciliate a Peace with the Government."
between the English and the Indians would prove integral to the latter's survival during the many intertribal wars of the
1700's in South Carolina. The English interceded on behalf of many
tribes to maintain peace and prosperity. If an agreement could not be reached, the English often negotiated to help
tribes resettle in areas far removed from their enemies. In the 1720s the Keyauwee, Saponi, and Tutelo were relocated
along the shore of South Carolina. Some Cheraw and Pedee also moved
to the new settlement. Milling and Swanton believed that these Indians later moved father north in Robeson County, North Carolina, and, therefore,
were the ancestors of the Lumbee Indians.
1730s, colonization of the South Carolinian coast intensified, causing a subsequent increase in intertribal warfare as Native
American people competed with European settlers and among the various tribes for land and provisions. They English fostered
a mutually beneficial relationship with the Pedee during this period. For example, in 1744, the English Provincial government
convinced the Catawba to maintain their unity with the Pedee even after four Pedee Indians were accused of killing seven Catawba.
Some Pedee did not trust the Catawba to remain faithful to the agreement, however, choosing instead to become settlement Indians.
While the colonists quelled rebellion among the tribes so that they would remain faithful to their English allies, the French
attempted to divide the Indian forces. The English were aware of this, and, after the Albany conference (1751), united
the Indians into two broad groups that they called the Northward and the Southward. The Pedee were included in the Southward
group of Indians who joined the British in the French and Indian War.
In a letter
from Documents Relating to Indian Affairs dated November 21, 1752, the Catawba chief stated in part that "there are a great
many Pedee Indians living in the [white] settlements that we want to come and settle amongst us. We desire for you to
send for them." Provincial Governor Glenn related the Catawba request to the Pedee and from that point, the two tribes
were regarded as one. The colonial records last referred to the Pedee in 1755, when they cited the murder of some Pedee
settlement Indians by the Cherokee. Although the few remaining Pedee were able to survive by uniting with the more powerful
Catawba, their traditions, language, and culture were not salvaged.
stated, "The culture of all the [Southeastern Siouan] groups was practically identical." Therefore, the religious culture
of the Pedee can be inferred from general characteristics of Siouan religion. Their religious culture included idol
worship probably related to fertility rites. Gregg detailed their belief in "two spirits, the one good and the other
bad." The good spirit was the creator of man and the earth. This spirit provided man with sustenance and the ability
to hunt and gather. To this end, the good spirit taught them to hunt, fish, and farm the land so that they might prosper.
The bad spirit was most commonly associated with the onslaught of disease, famine, natural disasters, and general hardships
visited upon the earth.
is known of the Pedee's language except that it was a member of the Siouan, also known as Dakotan, family of languages.
This determination was made through cultural, geographical, and historical parallels. In The Siouan Indians, W.J. McGee
inferred the Pedee's Siouan stock "in part from geographic relation, but chiefly form the recorded federation of tribes."
He argued that the federation of tribes formed because of the "conformity in mode of thought which is characteristic of people
speaking identical or closely related languages."
lived in settlements grouped near fresh water sources, usually the Pedee River or nearby tributaries. They built circular
homes made of tree bark. House raisings were a community project. The Pedee used sweat lodges in purification
rituals, but no description of these structures exists.
of hunting gathering, and food preparation are the areas of Pedee culture about which the most information is available.
When the English first began colonizing the coast of South Carolina in the
eighteenth century, the Pedee were semi-nomadic river dwellers who farmed small plots of land to grow vegetables and grains.
The Pedee also cultivated corn, preparing it by "beating it till the husks came off, then boiling it in large earthen pots,:
wrote Gregg. The corn was then pounded into a meal with a stone mortar. They used stone axes to fell trees and
then lit the area on fire, a method known as slash and burn. The Pedee gathered wild fruits, nuts, and roots native
to the area including chestnuts, black mulberries, wild potatoes, plums, strawberries, and sassafras. Acorns were an
integral part of their diet and they collected six different varieties which were eaten raw or used to make bread. The
Pedee used salt in their food, probably obtained from tribes to the north. They hunted deer and other small game using
bows and arrows, trading the dressed skins with the English for guns, knives, and ammunition.
of the clothing worn by the Pedee was given no attention in the historical accounts of the tribe. Gregg described a
small pottery vessel excavated from a Pedee archaeological site, however, which may provide a clue to one of their practices.
The artifact "is very small, not holding more than a gill [four ounces], and seems to have been used for paint, or some other
valuable liquid." Cinnabar, which neighboring tribes used as body and face paint, may have been the substance intended
for the vessel.
to many Native American tribes, the Pedee practiced the sweat lodge ritual, especially after contact with Europeans and their
foreign diseases. At the height of the sickness, they would enter the sweat lodge, remain inside until they were unbearably
hot, and then plunge themselves into the icy Pedee River. This was not a successful treatment for diseases such as small
pox, however, and the Pedee perished in large numbers." Conner Gorry
believed to have received supernatural healing power, also were prevalent in Pedee society. The shamans used the wild
herbs and plants of the region to cure illnesses, and, according to Gregg, "the knowledge of some of the most valuable plants
now in use was derived from them."
excavations have provided many clues as to the death and internment customs of the Pedee. Arrowheads and tobacco pipes,
objects believed to be important to a satisfying afterlife, have been uncovered in Pedee graves. In addition, important
members of the tribe were interned in sepulchers. When a Pedee was murdered, rock cairnes were erected at the sight,
with the number of rocks corresponding the the number of fatalities. Widows were respected: young men were expected
to provide for their well being. This sense of community responsibility was an important part of the Pedee lifestyle
in other ways as well. For instance, if a Pedee community member's house was destroyed, they immediately held a large
feast for the tribe. An elder would make a speech, after which everyone was required to make a donation to the person
suffering the loss. Finally, the Pedee observed the custom of an annual holy fire, whereby the trees that had
been felled to clear a piece of land were kept burning in a bonfire. According to Gregg, the fire inevitably spread
to the grasses and secondary growth, "an ancient custom of the Indians."
Pedee occupied a short period in the history since the discovery of the New World. Colonial documents mentioned the
Pedee for a scat 50 years. It is not incumbent upon archaeologists to furnish more clues regarding the life and history
of this tribe. Unfortunately, some of their culture will never be recovered.
and Further Reading
B.R. Historical Collections of South Carolina. New
York: Harper and Brothers, 1836.
Records of South Carolina. Documents Relating to Indian Affairs.
Columbia: South Carolina Archives Department, 1958
Records of South Carolina. Journals of the Commissioners of the Indian
Trade. Columbia: South Carolina Archives Department, 1955.
Alexander. History of the Old Cheraws. New York: Richardson
and Company, 1867
Frederick Webb. Handbook of the American Indians North of Mexico. New
York: Pageant Books. 1959.
W.J. The Siouan Indians. 15th Annual Report, Bureau of America Ethnology. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1897.
Chapman J. Red Carolinians. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1940.
James. The Siouan Tribes of the East. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1894.
John R. Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. Washington,
D.C.: Bureau of American Ethnology, 1922.
Indians of the Southeastern United States. Bulletin 137, Bureau of American Ethnology. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1944.