Native American languages
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Southern Santee Tribe
The tribal name Santee is one that has caused much confusion, since it has been applied to two
Native American tribes in entirely different parts of the country. Most people have heard this name in
reference to the Santee Dakota, one of the
major divisions of the Sioux Nation with several communities in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
The name of the Santee Dakota comes from a placename in their own language, Isanti, which means
"knife place." However, there was also a second, much smaller tribe in South Carolina known as "Santee." Their tribal
name came from the word Santa in their language, which was their name for the river that ran through their
territory and meant "rapids." Both tribes did speak Siouan
languages, but they were only very distantly related to each other-- similar to the relationship between English
and Russian (which are both Indo-European languages, but cannot be understood by speakers of the other language.)
Few records remain of the southern Santee language, but it seems to have been similar to
Catawba, and may have been a Catawba dialect.
The Southern Santees were devastated by European diseases and warfare, and merged into the neighboring
Catawba tribe in the early 1700's, where most of their descendants remain today. Other Santee people still live
in scattered communities within their original South Carolina territory.
Santee Tribe History:
Article on the Santee tribe from the Handbook of American Indians.
Carolina Indians: Santee:
Information about the historical Santee tribe of South Carolina.
Santee Indian Organization Celebrates Heritage With Powwow:
News article about modern Santee descendants in South Carolina.
Santee Indian Mound Santee Indian Mound Village Complex Santee Indian Mound:
Information about a Santee Indian archaeological site in South Carolia.
Wikipedia article on the Santee Indians.
Four Directions: Santee:
Timeline and links about Santee history.
Books for sale on the Southern Santee Indians
The Siouan Tribes of the East:
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Book on the history of the Southeast Siouan tribes, including a chapter on the Carolina Santee.
Links, References, and Additional Information
Santee links page.
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