To conclude the independent research I have been conducting with the guidance of Professor Ellis, I have compiled a write up which begins to organize the unspooled threads of Shoccoree history. Although the initial goal was to produce an original research paper of 20 – 25 pages, grounded in primary sources, the story which I uncovered was far too rich, in-depth, and far-reaching to cram into 25 pages. Wholly going without sleep for 3 days, I furiously strung together not only the research I had been doing over the past few months, but also the research I had been doing since I had reenrolled in my nation. Unfortunately, there were simply not enough hours left before graduation to finish writing the paper I wanted to write, and came to an abrupt stop in the middle of my people’s history.
While I was not able to attain my initial goal of compiling a completely cohesive history, this paper served as an important venue to explore the intersections between Shoccoree oral history, the work of the academic community, and other overlooked details. While the Shoccoree unquestionably remember their first origin amongst the Eastern Siouans, it is also likewise clear that various non-Siouan influences play a large part in Shoccoree culture and history. This paper focuses on exploring overlooked Algonquian influences on the Shoccoree, as well as the lands associated with Shoccoree history, namely the lands of the Pee Dee-Cape Fear-Neuse drainages of the coastal Carolinas. While the Shoccoree are most closely associated with Yadkin and Hillsborough pottery (the latter being of the Caraway series), this paper explores the broader cultural area of the Pee Dee-Cape Fear-Neuse drainages to better understand the arrival and development of Shoccoree (Sissipahaw) history.
One matter which was unfortunately cut short in this essay was the matter of detribalization in South Carolina. While I did not have an opportunity to expand upon this matter in my essay, the information must be made available. For those looking for my sources, I have used “The Indian’s New World” by James Merrell and Chiefdoms, Collapse, and Coalescence by Robin Beck. I have attached PDF that is the assemblage of quotes I have compiled from these two sources on the matter. The two sources, put in conversation with each other, provide a damning account of the violent actions of elimination taken by the South Carolina government, with the intention of destroying native occupancy of the land.
The indigenous story of South Carolina was intentionally spun through the lens of Catawba coalescence — the exclusion of the Indians along the Great Pee Dee such as the Shoccoree (known to South Carolina under their non-Catawban name Sissipahaw), Keyauwee, Saura is the direct result of a project between the colonial government of South Carolina and the then-emerging Catawba nation. Both Governor Glenn of South Carolina and King Hagler of the Catawba revealed their plans in 1731 when “the colony unwittingly revealed its plan to sweep the low country clean of natives when it discussed what to do with the ‘Ittewans Winyaws and w[ha]t other scattering Indians who have not yet joined themselves with the Catabaws'” (Merrell, 114).
To overcome the project designed by the Catawba and South Carolina government, my ancestors survived by trading. As my grandfather tells me about the trading post that used to be near Dog Bluff, his old home in South Carolina, he speaks of settlers who would come in on stagecoaches from town to trade their furs. This trading post “operating at a place called Uauenee (or the Great Bluff ), helped Indian peoples living along the Pee Dee maintain political and economic independence from the Catawbas, who traded at a factory called the Congarees near what is now Columbia, South Carolina” (Beck, 252). My ancestor William “Willis” Thompkins of the Sissipahaw-Shoccoree nation helped found the Dimery settlement and coalesced alongside Keyauwees under the Saura name on the Pee Dee River.
Their story was kept in the shadows of Jim Crow for centuries, until my family removed to Connecticut during the Great Migration in 1962. Changes in contemporary changes in social attitudes have allowed for stories like mine to be brought into the open.