The Spaniards mentioned the Wateree as far from the coast, near the settlements of the Cherokee. Later English colonists and explorers mention the Wateree as inhabiting the area of the upper Yadkin river, and later settling south of present-day Camden, South Carolina.
Unlike other tribes, the Europeans observed that the chiefs of the Wateree had a higher degree of power than the other Indian tribes of the region. Also, the English found them ruled by female chiefs.
Originally a very large tribe, the Yamasee war ended with them as allies in a tribal confederation dominated by the Catawba, who also were taking in remnant bands of many other tribes of the region from the chaos of the intertribal fighting. The Wateree, however, were able to maintain their culture and distinct language as late as 1744, when it is noted that a sale of land was made to a white man from Wateree Indians. The tribe is now extinct, but some present-day Catawba are likely to be descendants of the Wateree.