What does an upscale Callawassie Island Development, gated Heyward Point have to do with an important archaeological dig, pre-colonial “Native American” slave traders, the English/Spanish conquest up and down coastal Georgia/South Carolina along the Heritage Corridor, and a recent discovery of the “new Yamasee capital” called Altamaha Town on the banks of the Colleton River? What has been termed as the single greatest excavation in the state of South Carolina is providing many clues about how a long departed Lowcountry Indian tribe that once resided just across the river from modern day Hilton Head Island was a major player in historic events in our early 18th century history. Tying all of these loose ends together, a recent article in the Island Packet sheds light on how Indian tribes that had lived here for thousand of years were irrevocably dispersed by 1718.
The Altamaha, later known as the Yamasee (today referred to as the Yemassee), arrived in the area in the 1660s to 1680s after fleeing their settlements in Georgia because other Native American tribes began making slaves of them, DePratter said. They originally settled on South Carolina's sea islands, including Lady's, St. Helena and Hilton Head islands, before being forced inland in 1707 onto reservations established by the early Carolina government. Yamasee men became primary allies of European settlers, serving as military aides, middlemen in the deerskin trade and major providers of Indian slaves for plantations. They also advised settlers on farming. The Yamasee raised hogs and chickens and grew vegetables. In 1715, the Yamasee War began after the tribe killed a number of traders and local settlers in retribution for goods and children seized as payments for trade debts. By 1718, the Yamasee were driven out of Carolina, never to return.
So if you fancy spending your retirement years digging in the back yard of your resort home in search of pottery Shards of the Yamasee Tribe, Heyward Point just might be worth investigating.