South Carolina has a rich Native American history with at least 29 distinct groups of American Indians having lived here through the centuries.
The many ancient American Indian names that denote our rivers, cities and places are a testament to the presence of various tribes: Pee Dee, Waccamaw, Ashepoo, Combahee, Edisto and Catawba - South Carolina's only federally recognized tribe. South Carolina was once home to the Cherokee and Waxhaw, as well.
You can see and experience parts of that history at several South Carolina state parks. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Charles Towne Landing
The first English settlement in South Carolina naturally came in close contact with the Native Americans already living here. Charles Towne Landing provides tours, exhibits, living history demonstrations and hands-on activities to help visitors understand the experience of settlers and Native Americans trying to coexist.
Edisto Beach State Park
The Spanish Mount Shell Midden Site at Edisto Beach State Park dates back about 4,000 years. One key feature is a 12-foot high circle of shells that could have been part of a ceremonial site or simply an ancient trash pile (midden) for shells. The site is reached by the Spanish Mount trail.
Landsford Canal State Park
Established on the site of an American Indian ford in the Catawba River, Landsford Canal State Park was once used by explorers, traders and soldiers on both sides of the Revolutionary and Civil wars.
The land around what later became a two-mile canal paralleling the Catawba was deeded to Thomas Land in 1754. Fort Taylor was built to protect the area from the Native Americans.
The location was used by both Revolutionaries and British troops to cross the river. Today, Landsford Canal State Park is enjoyed mostly for its natural beauty and the rare rocky shoals spider lilies that bloom in abundance here.
Oconee Station State Historic Site
Oconee Station provides a glimpse at early frontier life as it served as a defensive fort, protecting settlers against American Indian assault and housing dozens of militiamen during the late 18th century. The site later became a trading post. The home of its first trader, William Richards, still stands today.
The park hosts the annual Native American Day that includes demonstrations on how pottery and bows were made as well as arrowheads and other tools.