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“S” is for Sewees

  “S” is for Sewees. The Sewees were a Native American nation based along the Santee River and the Sea Islands. In 1670 it was the Sewees who showed the English colonists the best harbors. They helped the Carolinians against the Spanish and supplied the settlers with food when the colony ran short. The tribe was decimated by smallpox and by an ill-fated attempt to trade directly across the Atlantic with England. A fleet of canoes was swamped by a storm and many drowned; those that survived were picked up by an English slave ship and sold into slavery in the West Indies. By 1700 only a handful of the tribe remained alive in the colony. Other tribes absorbed them, and the Sewees  ceased to exist as a distinct group by the early 18th century. 

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Dr. Walter Edgar has two programs on South Carolina Public Radio: Walter Edgar's Journal, and South Carolina from A to Z. Dr. Edgar received his B.A. degree from Davidson College in 1965 and his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 1969. After two years in the army (including a tour of duty in Vietnam), he returned to USC as a post-doctoral fellow of the National Archives, assigned to the Papers of Henry Laurens.