Beaver Creek Indians
|Regions with significant populations|
|United States ( South Carolina)|
|English, revival of Catawba|
|Christianity (incl. syncretistic forms), Mormon|
|Related ethnic groups|
|Waccamaw, Cheraw, Catawba and other Siouan peoples|
The Beaver Creek Indians are a state recognized tribe located in South Carolina, USA. They achieved state recognition on January 27, 2006 and are seeking federal recognition. The tribe formally organized as a non-profit organization in 1998 to seek official recognition.
The people were recorded on historical lands are between the two forks of the Edisto River in Orangeburg County, and especially along Beaver Creek. Historical accounts document the tribe in this area since the 18th century. Most of the tribe members live in the area. They have traditionally farmed (it is a rural area) or held jobs within the local community.
The tribe's historical language family was Siouan, one of the major languages connecting them to such tribes of the Piedmont region as the Pee Dee and Catawba. Today all members speak English. Common family names within the tribe are: Chavis, Hutto, Williams, Barr, Bolin, Jackson, Huffman and Gleaton.
The tribe is governed by a Chief (Louie Chavis) and a Vice Chief (Kenneth Adams), and an elected Tribal Council of nine members. An Elders Council of five members also provides consultation and advice. The tribe's current headquarters is in the town of Salley, South Carolina.
Lazarus Chavis (b. 1767 - d. after 1830) has been identified as the tribe's earliest known ancestor. He and his descendants are the central figures in the tribe's history, identity, and genealogy. Documentation of his life in numerous sources enabled the tribe to achieve state recognition in the 21st century, because records showed he identified as Indian. This provided proof that the people had a continuity of cultural and ethnic identity after the American Revolutionary War and through times of change.
Chavis lived during a time when Native Americans were treated poorly, and most of those remaining in South Carolina were left landless after populations were decimated by infectious disease, slavery and warfare during the English colonial period. While some Native Americans denied or tried to hide their ethnicity in order to assimilate with majority culture, he identified openly as Indian. He was recorded as such in numerous legal documents. Records indicate he served in the American Revolutionary War and received a pension for the military service. He is also listed in the first U.S. Federal Census of 1790 and every census after that through 1830.
Because his Native American ethnicity is documented through multiple and unrelated sources, his life demonstrated continuity of identity through early colonial and republican history. Such documentation was critical for the tribe's achieving state recognition in the 21st century. As Chavis was the foundation of the tribe's legal existence, he has come to define the extent and limits of its ancestry. Today he is defined as the common ancestor for all the members of the tribe. To be a member of the tribe, an individual must demonstrate direct descent from Chavis.
- "South Carolina Indian Affairs Commission (official SC state government listing of tribes and their status)".
- "List of State Recognized Tribes (on the 500 Nations website)".
- "List of Tribes in South Carolina (on the 500 Nations website)".
- Beaver Creek Indians document submitted for State Recognition to the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs (Kathleen Chavis, compilation organizer)
- "William Harlen Gilbert, Jr., Surviving Indians Groups of the Eastern United States, 1949".
- Brewton Berry, "The Mestizos of South Carolina", in The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 51, No. 1. (Jul 1945), on Scribd.com, accessed