The Beaver Creek Indians are the descendents of some thirty odd mixed-blood South Carolina tribes that merged together after smallpox and measles epidemics, and through intermarriage with other tribes, Europeans, and African Americans.
Official Tribal Name: Beaver Creek Indians
Address: 230 Pine St NW, P O Box 699, Salley, SC 29137-0699
Email: [email protected]
Official Website: http://www.beavercreekindians.org
Recognition Status: State Recognized by the State of South Carolina on August 29, 2006.
Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning:
Some of the death certificates of their ancestors have the designation “Croatan” on their death certificates. This term was often used to denote a person of mixed breed Indian. Tribal ancestors knew that they were Indian but due to the mixed tribal heritage, they did not know what kind of Indian they were. The tribal name comes from the location where the ancestors of this tribe lived.
The Beaver Creek Indians are the descendents of some thirty odd mixed-blood tribes, who originally lived in the coastal region of South Carolina, that merged together after smallpox and measles epidemics, and later through intermarriage with other tribes, Europeans, and African Americans.
Many of the original tribes were branches of the Catawba Confederacy of Indian tribes. Catawba is actually a Creek word meaning “scalp taker.”
Alternate names / Alternate spellings / Mispellings:
Red Legs, Smiling Indians, Croatans, Brass Ankles, Mulattos, The Mestizos of South Carolina
State(s) Today: South Carolina
Traditional Territory: Coastal regions of South Carolina, particularly along Beaver Creek.
Confederacy: Probably Catawba Confederacy.
Tribal Headquarters: Salley, SC
Time Zone: Eastern
First European Contact:
Population at Contact:
Registered Population Today: About 2,000
Tribal Enrollment Requirements: Enrollment in this tribe is closed as part of agreement for recognition with the State of South Carolina.
Charter: In 1998, they formally organized into what is known now as Beaver Creek Indians. They are a non-profit organization with bylaws and a constitution.
Name of Governing Body:
Number of Council members:
Dates of Constitutional amendments:
Number of Executive Officers: Chief, Vice-Chief, Secretary
Number of fluent Speakers:
Bands, Gens, and Clans
Ceremonies / Dances: Wild turkey feathers are used in ceremonies as fans for blessing
meeting rooms with sacred herbs such as sweet grass, tobacco and cedar. The smoke of these herbs ar fanned with a feather to cleanse the room.
Modern Day Events & Tourism:
Legends / Oral Stories:
Art & Crafts: The Beaver Creek Indians made pottery and arrowheads which they used for their own use and for trade. Sea Shells are used for arts and crafts and for ritually decorating graves.
Subsistance: Hunter gatherers who hunted deer, wild boar, raccoon and squirrel. Women gathered various berries and roots and herbs. Small plots of land were cleared for farming. Tobacco is revered as a sacred
Religion & Spiritual Beliefs:
Burial Customs: Ritually buried in mounds that can still be found in Orangeburg Co, South Carolina.
Wedding Customs: The Beaver Creek Indians were matrilineal. Family ties are traced through the mother’s family lines. The families, related to each other through the mother, formed the basic social unit of the tribe.
Education and Media:
Their earliest known ancestor was Lazarus Chavis. He was born in South Carolina, circa 1759. He was in the Revolutionary War and received a pension from that war. He is listed on the first Federal Census of 1790 and every census up to 1830.
The Caroliniana Library in Columbia has hand written documentation from a manuscript Bessie Garvin wrote that states that Lazarus was Indian and so were Richard, William, Phillip and James “Jim” Chavis. It also lists Lazarus as William’s grandfather.
Lazarus was the father of Frederick, James and Nancy Chavis. Recorded tribal genealogy begins with Lazarus Chavis and his children.
Because of the scarcity of Indian records, there are no birth, death or marriage certificates. They did not have first, middle or last names as did Europeans. However, there are some land deeds to prove that Chavis ancestors lived in the Orangeburg area. Family names that continue through to present day in this tribe are Chavis, Hutto, Bolin, Hoover, Williams, Huffman, Hoffman and Gleaton.
Catastrophic Events: Measles and smallpox epidemics.
Frederick Chavis petitioned the state of South Carolina in 1839 to be known as Indian.
In the News: