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Marlboro, Chesterfield, Darlington County Pee Dee Indian Tribe

Pee Dee Indians
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Information on the Pee Dee Indians

Pee Dee Indians

For more than one thousand years, Indians lived an agricultural life on the lands that became known as North Carolina. About the 11th century A.D., a new cultural tradition arrived in the Pee Dee River Valley. That new culture, called "Pee Dee" by archaeologists, was part of a widespread tradition known as "South Appalachian Mississippian." Throughout Georgia, South Carolina, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina, and the southern North Carolina Piedmont, the new culture gave rise to complex societies. These inhabitants built earthen mounds for their spiritual and political leaders, engaged in widespread trade, supported craft specialists, and celebrated a new kind of religion.

Pee Dee culture represents a regional expression of South Appalachian Mississippian culture that interacted and evolved with other centers located throughout the Southeast. Indians of the Pee Dee culture established a political and ceremonial center on a low bluff overlooking the confluence of Town Creek and Little River. In addition to being a major habitation spot, the Town Creek site served as a place for discussion of matters important to the collective clans of the tribe. In this way, it was the setting for significant religious ceremonies and feasts, which often lasted several days. There many socially high-ranking members of the tribe lived, died, and were buried.

The people who lived at the Town Creek site during its heyday have been referred to as the "Pee Dee Indians" and their unique lifestyle, the "Pee Dee Culture." The site itself is located on the west bank of the Little River near its confluence with Town Fork Creek, in Montgomery County. A few miles downstream the Little River flows into the Pee Dee [River], which becomes the Great Pee Dee as it cuts through northeastern South Carolina to empty into the Atlantic Ocean.

Today, archaeologists know that Pee Dee culture is considerably earlier than originally thought, and that it was not introduced by invaders from the south who moved en mass into the North Carolina Piedmont. Pee Dee is better viewed as a regional center of South Appalachian Mississippian that interacted and evolved with other regional centers scattered from the Coastal Plain of Georgia and South Carolina to the western North Carolina mountains.

Common Characteristics, Interest and Behaviors

The Tribe cultivated crops such as squash, corn, marsh elder, chenopodium (greens in the beet and spinach family), sumpweed, may grass, knotweed (oat grass) and sunflowers. They lived in small villages along both the river and the creeks which fled it, missing, hunting and gathering with the raising of crops for their food. They also engaged in trade in using the extensive river system available to them. The homes for the tribe ranged from a wickiup, brush arbor, lean to, long houses to dome-shaped wattle and daub structures. These Woodland-era people were already developing a tradition of building earthen mounds, which often served primarily for burials, but occasionally were in geometric or animal shapes. While the Pee Dee was the dominant force in the area, they lived a reasonably peaceful existence with the tribes with which they traded.

Of particular note to the Indian people was the 1870 suppression of and the 1880s criminalization of "Indian religion." It is doubtless no coincidence that the Pee Dee during this time period suddenly began forming their own churches. So, in 1878, Mount Oliver Methodist Episcopal Society was formed, a society that would eventually become the Berea United Methodist Church. Founding documents, for that church, list people as being "a long neglected class of people, willing to associate in warships with neither the white people nor the colored people, but preferring to keep to themselves."


Buckskin, a softened raw hide, is one of the most valuable materials of the Pee Dee Indians. Combined with good qualities of both cloth and leather it is good for making articles of clothing, bags and pouches, and many other useful things. Buckskins were usually thought of as softened deerskin, or the skin of a buck, or male, deer. Deerskin makes a superior quality of buckskin, but the Pee Dee Indians also used other hides and skins from that of smaller animals. Sometimes the hair was left on and the softened skin or hide was used as a robe. Today, our traditional women dancers still wear buckskin dresses and the men wear buckskin pants and shirts.

Kinship Relationships

Our Tribe has a kinship relationship to the Pee Dee Indians of the Upper South Carolina. We practice some of the same Tribal Ceremonies but our core group and blood line are different. As a Pee Dee Indian Tribe, historical documents show that the Pee Dee Indians were a very big Tribe. We have Archaeologist digs in Marion, South Carolina for the Lost Pee Dee City, Darlington, South Carolina, on the Kolb Site, and Lake Paul Wallace, in Bennettsville, South Carolina, where we know that a Pee Dee Indian Tribal Ground was once flooded. Lake Paul Wallace was drained in the 1980's and there we found hundreds of arrow heads and pottery on the lake bed. One of the most well known Indian site is Town Creek Indian Mound in Mt. Gilead, North Carolina.

We also have a Kinship with the Leland Grove Indian School which was founded at Leland Grove Freewill Baptist Church to educate Indian children from the Pee Dee community. Some of our Tribal members, ancestors, and children have attended this school and/or church. Most of our living decedents live in this small community in Marlboro County formally called Redbluff Township in the late 1890's and now the Berea Community.



Marlboro, Chesterfield, Darlington County Pee Dee Indian Tribe
4116 Red Bud Road
McColl, South Carolina 29570