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Total population
800[1] (1600)
Regions with significant populations
On the lower course of the Santee River and the coast westward to the divide of Ashley River about present day Moncks Corner, South Carolina.[2]
Native American religion
Related ethnic groups

The Sewee or "Islanders" were a Native American tribe that lived in present-day South Carolina in North America.

In 1670, the English founded the coastal town of Charleston in the Carolina Colony on land belonging to the Sewee. The town flourished from trade with the Sewee and neighboring tribes. The Sewee exchanged their deer hides for manufactured goods and beads from the English. However, the Sewee, who received only five percent of what buyers in England paid for their deer skins, felt that this business was unfair. Upon noting that the English ships always came in at the same location, they were confident that it was the direct route to England. They believed that by rowing to the point on the horizon where the ships first appeared, they could reach England, and once there, establish more profitable, direct trade. Therefore, the Sewee nation decided to build a navy.[5]

English land surveyor John Lawson witnessed the construction:

"It was agreed upon immediately to make an addition of their fleet by building more canoes, and those to be of the best sort and biggest size as fit for their intended discovery. Some Indians employed about making the canoes, others to hunting - everyone to the post he was most fit for, all endeavors towards an able fleet and cargo for Europe." – John Lawson[6]

Months later, the Sewee had completed their navy of canoes, and they filled the vessels with hides, pelts and their most valuable possessions. All able-bodied Sewee men and women boarded the boats and took to the sea. Only the children, the sick and the elderly were left behind. As the Sewee entered open ocean, high seas engulfed their canoes. The survivors were rescued by a passing English slave ship only to be sold into slavery in the West Indies.[5][6]

Related Nations[edit]


  1. ^ Swanton, John Reed (1952). The Indian Tribes of North America. Genealogical Publishing Com. p. 99. ISBN 9780806317304. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  2. ^ Swanton, 98
  3. ^ Swanton, 98
  4. ^ Swanton, 99
  5. ^ a b Leustig, Jack. "Cauldron of War". 500 Nations. Episode 5. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ a b Lawson, John (1709). A New Voyage to Carolina. University of North Carolina: London. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 17 October 2014.