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“W” is for Westos

“W” is for Westos. Carolina colonists learned of this powerful Native American Savannah River nation soon after arrival. Most lowcountry Indians feared the Westos, who had a warlike reputation. Early on the proprietary government forged an alliance with Westos that launched a lucrative trade in deerskins and Indian slaves. Between 1674 and 1680, Carolina officials supplied the Westos with weapons in return for protection against the Spaniards and any other enemies. Disputes between government officials and private Indian traders led to difficulties between the Westos and colonists. The Westos killed several colonists, stole cattle, and raided neighboring tribes allied with the Colony.Open warfare erupted in 1680. The Westo War (1680-1683) broke the power of the Westos. Most of the Westos were killed and the survivors relocated to Georgia where they were eventually absorbed by the Creek Confederacy.

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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.