Waxhaw tribe

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Waxhaw
Waxhau
Total population
(none as a tribe)
Regions with significant populations
 United States (historically North Carolina, South Carolina)
Languages
Siouan-Catawban languages
Religion
Indigenous

The Waxhaw Tribe (also spelled Waxhau) was a tribe native to what are now the counties of Lancaster, in South Carolina; and Union and Mecklenburg in North Carolina, around the area of Charlotte. The Waxhaw were related to other nearby Southeastern Siouian tribes, such as the Catawba and Sugeree.

Some scholars suggest the Waxhaw may have been a tribe of the Catawba rather than a separate people, given the similarity in what is known of the language and customs. A distinctive custom which they shared was flattening of the forehead of individuals. Flattening of the head gave the Waxhaw a distinctive look, with wide eyes and sloping foreheads. They started the process at birth by binding the infant to a flat board. The wider eyes were said to give the Waxhaw a hunting advantage.

The typical Waxhaw dwellings were similar to those of other peoples of the region. They were covered in bark. Ceremonial buildings, however, were usually thatched with reeds and bullgrass. The people held ceremonial dances, tribal meetings and other important rites in these council houses.

During the Yamasee War of 1715, the Waxhaw were almost annihilated by European colonists and rival tribes. An epidemic of smallpox in 1741 made it necessary for the Waxhaws to disband, a large number having died from the disease. Historians believe the survivors left the area to join other tribes, most likely their neighbors, the culturally and linguistically similar Catawba. The tribe as a separate entity ceased. This left the abandoned territory open for European settlers.

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