Who Are the Yemassee Indians?

The Yamassee Indians were a confederation of tribes living in the southeast United States before the 18th century. Originally inhabiting parts of Georgia and Florida, they moved to South Carolina in the late 17th century. After the Yamassee War with the British, which lasted from 1715 to 1717, the survivors fled south and eventually became absorbed into other Native American tribes.

The Spanish expedition of Hernando de Soto first encountered the Yamassee in 1540. The Spanish established missions in Yamassee territory, but the Yamassee did not readily convert to Catholicism. In 1687, the Spanish attempted to capture the Yamassee and send them to the West Indies as slave labor. The Yamassee fled to British-controlled South Carolina, where they established a number of villages.

In 1715, the Yamassee joined the Cherokee, Muscogee, Chickasaw, Shawnee and other tribes in a war against British settlers. Many British settlements were destroyed, and hundreds of settlers were killed. The balance of the war shifted when the Cherokee allied themselves with the British to wage war on their traditional enemies, the Creeks. The governor of South Carolina created a professional army of settlers, friendly Indians, black slaves and regular troops to protect the colony. After the war, the Yamassee split up. Some remained in the newly-formed colony of Georgia and became known as the Yamacraw tribe. Within 20 years, they integrated themselves into the Lower Creek tribe. Other Yamassee fled to Florida and joined the Seminole tribe. By the end of the 18th century, the Yamassee as a people had ceased to exist.