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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

Native American Heritage

Native American Heritage photo collage
From left: Council of Native Americans of South Carolina (top); Unity Powwow taking place on the Statehouse Grounds (bottom); Catawba potter Nola Campbell, Prehistoric Rock Art. Photos courtesy of the Native American South Carolina Archive.

Native Americans were the first inhabitants of what is now South Carolina, and as such have an important place in state history. Because state boundaries are a European-imposed system of governance, many Native tribes have associations with several states. Tribal boundaries were linked with natural features such as river valleys or mountains.

Native Americans have used countless places in South Carolina during their 13,000-year presence in the state.  Most of these places now are found in the archaeological record, but despite the dramatic decline in the Native American population after European contact, Native Americans still reside in South Carolina. Places associated with the many past and present Native American cultures in the state include villages, small settlements, shell rings, mounds, soapstone quarries, clay pits, and resource extraction locations—places where Native Americans systematically used plants, animals, minerals, and stones.

Today, Native Americans are considered a “minority” group in the United States, but many tribes hold a special governmental status and recognition as a distinct government on American soil. Native Americans continue to push for recognition and rights as separate nations, recognizing their government and cultural heritage in America long before Europeans arrived.

Federal and State Recognized Native American Indian Tribes

Native American Heritage Resources

Native American Time Periods and Artifact Sequence