[waw-tuh-ree, wot-uh-]
Wateree, river, c.395 mi (635 km) long, rising in the Blue Ridge, W N.C., as the Catawba River and flowing E past Hickory and then S past Charlotte into central N S.C. (becoming the Wateree below Great Falls) to the Congaree, which it joins to form the Santee SE of Columbia. The Cowans Ford Dam (completed 1964) in North Carolina and the Catawba Dam (1925) and Wateree Dam (1919) in South Carolina are among the several dams on the river.
The Wateree were one of the first groups of Native Americans on the East Coast to encounter Europeans, and are mentioned as early as 1567, in Juan de Valera's account of Juan de Pardo's adventures off the Carolinas as the Guatari. From what little is known, the Wateree are believed to have been a Siouan, and spoken Siouan-Catawban languages, but it is noted that it was unintelligible to nearby speakers of Congeree. The name may come from Catawban wateran, to float on water. See also Wateree River.

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.


  • Wateree Native American Indians from South Carolina from SCIway.net
  • Hodge, Frederick W. Handbook of North American Indians. Washington, DC.: Government Printing Press, 1910.
  • Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 145. Washington DC.: Government Printing Office, 1952.
  • Mooney, James. Siouan Tribes of the East. Washington, DC.: Government Printing Press, 1894.

Search another word or see Watereeon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2015 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature