Wassamasaw Tribe Of Varnertown Indians
Wassamasaw Tribe Of Varnertown                            Indians

Origin of the Tribal Community

The Wassamasaw Tribe is a Native American community, which is located near present-day Carnes Crossroads between the major towns of Summerville, Moncks Corner and Goose Creek. The Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians are descendants from the original Etiwan, Edisto, Catawba, Cherokee, and other Settlement Indians, and is located approximately 30 miles northwest of Charleston, South Carolina. 

The Varnertown Indian community was formed from 2 distinct groups who settled together for protection and preservation.  One of these groups was a settlement tribe that formed along the Cherokee trading path.  The other was the Etiwan tribe, who was granted land and moved into the Wassamassaw Swamp after the Yamasee War.

The original Ittiwan people, later known as Etiwan, once inhabited what is now known as Daniel Island. Later after contflicts around 1724, the Etiwan were granted land In the Wassamassaw swamp.


Yamasee War​

In 1715, a war broke out between the Yamasee with a handful of other natives and the colonial English government in South Carolina. Initially during the beginning of the war, the Etiwan sided with the English of South Carolina. Due to anti-Indian sentiments among the colonists during the first half of the war, the colonial relationship with the Etiwan shattered.  Due to these frayed relationships, later that year the Etiwan switched sides and joined the Yamasee as they fought against the South Carolinians.


Because of the multitude of tribes who were involved in the war, and the large area where fighting took place, there was no definitive end to the conflict. Much of the large battles were over in the first few months. Peace treaties were established such as the Cherokee alliance of early 1716 and the various peace treaties with various Creek and other Muskogean peoples in 1717. 


After the Yamasee War

After the war much of the Etiwan were scattered in small groups in St. James Goose Creek Parish and St. Johns Berkeley Parish.  In 1724 an Etiwan representative approached the Commons House of Assembly to request a single settlement area to bring the tribal members together and provide a means of support for their dwindling numbers. At the time, there were believed to be less than 200 Etiwan people. These records can still be found in The Journal of the Commons House of Assembly.

The Commons House of Assembly granted the request and issued land on the western side of Wassamassaw Swamp. 

Pictured above is the Wassamassaw Swamp Historical Marker 


After gaining land in the Wassamassaw Swamp, their dwindling numbers and lack of response from the South Carolina government to help defend them from other invading tribes and slave raiding parties, the few remaining Etiwan left the Swamp seeking refuge with nearby tribal communities.


This lead them to the nearby Settlement Tribe located on the Cherokee Path.

Pictured above is a map of the Historic Cherokee path.


The Cherokee path (also Keowee path) was the primary route from Charleston to Columbia connecting all of the Cherokee territories.


The path ran 130 miles (210 km) from Charlestown to the colonial settlement of Ninety Six.  It then traveled to Fort Prince George and the Cherokee village of Keowee, the principal town of the Cherokee Lower settlements (in present day Oconee, Greenville, Pickens and Anderson counties). From Keowee, the path branched out into the Unaka Mountains, usually following streams and valleys; to Clayton, Georgia;  up to Franklin and Murphy in North Carolina (the Middle settlements); and across to the Cherokee towns in Tennessee (the Overhill settlements). 


These many intersecting trading paths contributed to form small settlements of Native Americans. Natives from many different tribes settled to make a small “Town” between larger settlements on the path.  One such settlement was what would later be known as the Varnertown Indian Community.  These Natives came from many different tribes including: Catawba, Cherokee, Edisto, Santee, and other Settlement Indians.  This community was a thriving farming community of assimilated Native Americans in St. James, Goose Creek Parish on the Cherokee path.

Present Day

The name "Wassamasaw" was officially adopted by the tribe when the community formally organized as a non profit with the state.  The name combined the historical relevance to the Wassamassaw Swamp and the Varnertown Settlement community.  Our name recognizes the  Etiwan ancestors who once resided there between the 1700's and 1800. Our Etiwan ancestors moved from the "Reservation in the Wassamassaw swamp" and settled in the nearby Varnertown Settlement  community.  Now known as the Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians, the core members of our tribe still live today,  

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Updated 2022