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300th Anniversary Celebration of the Treaty of 1721

What a great time of fellowship last weekend as the 300th anniversary was celebrated at Mission Lake Wilderness Camp! For those that didn't get a chance to join us in the festivities, here is some information on what the Treaty of 1721 was all about and why it is significant to what is now Mission Lake.


Treaty of 1721

One of the earliest significant contacts between the Carolina colonists and the Cherokee took place in 1693 when twenty Cherokee chiefs visited Charles Town with offers of friendship and a request for the help of Governor Philip Ludwell against the Esau and Coosaw tribes who had captured and carried off some Cherokees earlier that year.


The Savannah Indians had apparently raided the Cherokee and took Cherokee captives and then sold them into slavery. The Cherokees implored for help concerning the return of the Cherokees that had been sold. Governor Ludwell offered to protect the Cherokee from more trouble from these other tribes, but told them there was not much that could be done about the Cherokees who had been sold, as they had already been shipped to the West Indies and it was impossible for him to return them since they were in Spanish hands.


In the early 1700s, the Cherokees began moving further and further west of their traditional lands to follow the game and to avoid the  English settlers that were taking Cherokee Lands - a westward movement that had just only begun. This westward migration now placed the Cherokees in  conflict with other Indian tribes which often resulted in hostilities between the Cherokee and those other tribes - those that had peaceful conditions prior to the arrival of the English.

In 1715, the Cherokee allied with the Yamassee and the Creeks and this alliance declared war against the settlers of South Carolina. It    became known as the Yamassee War and lasted for two years. At the war's conclusion, Governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina took a census of the Cherokees - it was estimated that they had over thirty towns, a population of approximately 11,000, and could assemble more than 4,000 warriors.


This number decreased dramatically in 1738 due to a Smallpox epidemic, which decimated many local tribes, including the Cherokee. It is estimated that the plague of 1738 had reduced the Cherokee numbers by at least half.


The first formal treaty between the Cherokees and the English took place in 1721, which was a treaty of peace and           commerce attended by Governor James Moore, Jr. of South Carolina. Peace was established by the smoking of the pipe and the presentation of presents to delegates from thirty-seven Cherokee towns.  Boundaries were also confirmed in this treaty and an Indian agent was appointed by Governor Moore to superintend their affairs with the colonists.


In the subsequent decades, Congaree  survivors merged with the larger Catawba people. Different tribes lived in their own villages within the loose Catawba federation of peoples. The Congaree  maintained their distinction until the late 18th century, as they had a language different from the Siouan Catawba, but they became extinct as a tribe. Their descendants intermarried with the Catawba and other peoples of the confederation.


Treaty and purchase of 1721: The treaty relations between the 'Cherokees and the whites began in 1721, when jealousy of French territorial encroachments persuaded Governor Nicholson of South Carolina to invite the Cherokees to a general congress, with a view to the conclusion of a treaty of peace and commerce.

Early European observers and later American scholars thought the Congaree were likely part of the Siouan language  family, given their geographic location and characteristics of neighboring tribes. The Catawba and other tribes in this area spoke Siouan languages. The Cherokee, located to the west, spoke an Iroquoian language,  associated more with tribes around the Great Lakes to the north.

Since the late 20th century, scholars more widely agree that the Congaree people were not a Siouan people. Their language was distinct from the Siouan language, and not intelligible to their immediate Siouan neighbors, the Wateree.

Interesting Facts!


They Fought on Both Sides

During the Tuscarora War of 1711, the Congaree fought on the side of the English colonist John Barnwell, who raised a militia. In early 1715, John Barnwell took a census, which identified the Congaree as living in one village, with a population of 22 men and 70 women and children.  A few years later during the Yamasee War of 1715, the Congaree joined with other tribes in the fight against the colony of South Carolina. Over half were either killed or enslaved by the colonists and Cherokee.

Savany Hunt Creek

Centuries ago, this little creek valley was home to many different Native American tribes. Today, it has become a great place today for the Mission Lake Wilderness Camp.

The Savany (Savannah) Hunt Creek played a big role in everyday life with the Indian tribes associated with the Congaree River. Today’s Mission Lake Wilderness Camp was once just this valley with the Savany Creek running through the heart of it . This     bountiful valley was also visited by neighboring tribes because of its prime hunting grounds. With highly elevated cliffs running along each side of the creek, hunters would run deer and other animals through the valley, making hunting and gathering much easier and very productive. 


Mission Lake Wilderness Camp is  teeming with life throughout its dense forests. What was once used as prime hunting grounds is now a wildlife refuge for all of God’s creatures that call it home.

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