The Impact of Trade and Commerce on Native Americans in South Carolina

The Native American population in the South Carolina lowlands has been greatly impacted by the development of trade and commerce. In the fall of 1686, Spanish soldiers and their Indian allies burned a trail of destruction from Port Royal to Edisto and Wadmalaw Islands, destroying property and people. As a result, most of the indigenous population in this area disappeared, and uprooted survivors moved north to increasingly populated lands. Between the winter of 1697 and the spring of 1700, hundreds of white settlers, African slaves, and Native Americans perished in a series of deadly fevers that swept through the Charleston area.

Meanwhile, most of the inhabitants of Sewee were lost at sea when they tried to paddle a fleet of canoes to England. Another series of deadly diseases in the summer of 1706 further weakened the local population and induced a squadron of Spanish and French ships to attempt to invade Charleston. Native American allies west of the Ashley and east of the Cooper provided valuable assistance to the English on that occasion, but their numbers continued to decline. An Anglican minister informed London in 1706 that each of the surviving tribes of lowland Indians included no more than fifty people.

The commercial relationship of each tribe was dependent on its geographical resources and the cultural region of which it was a part. Before contact with Europeans, Native American trade was limited to neighboring tribes as a method of defining tribal and social boundaries. The goods traded depended on the specialization of each tribe, but each tribe did not depend on foreign trade to survive. The development of trade between European merchants and native tribes led native tribes to specialize in the fur trade in exchange for European products. This new form of commerce had a lasting impact on Native American populations in South Carolina.

In addition, it should be noted that Southeastern Indians are not absent in today's southeastern United States. The descendants of some of the above-mentioned populations still inhabit areas of the Southeast, including western North Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Many more live in Oklahoma and surrounding regions, the territories to which many of their ancestors were forcibly moved in the 1830s. The relative neglect of Native American rights continued after ratification. The main laws governing Indian affairs until the 1830s were the Trade and Exchange Act of 1790-49 and its successors.

These laws regulated Indian trade, prohibited the purchase of state and private land from Indians, and extended federal criminal jurisdiction to non-Indians in the Indian country. But these laws were only partial and ambiguous exercises of India's federal commercial power. Preference was one of the foundations of the Indian policy of the new national government. Federal officials insisted that the Constitution granted the right of extinction Indian title to the federal government only, and the first Trade and Interactions Act prohibited the purchase of indigenous lands except in a public treaty concluded under federal authority. The Senate rejected one of the first Indian treaties negotiated under the Constitution for inadequately protecting federal preemptive rights. It used to be said that Indians could never acquire the habit of working.

However, this view has been refuted by facts showing that some Indians not only provide abundant food for their families with their own work but also have a surplus with which they purchase foreign clothing, furniture, and luxury goods. We appeal to Congress for justice and protection for Cherokee people's rights, freedoms, and lives. We demand it from the United States with strict obligations imposed by treaties; we expect them to uphold their memorable declaration that all men are created equal. The Cherokee people have been dragged out from their homes into military forts across America. Especially in Georgia, crowds were not allowed to carry anything with them except what they were wearing at that moment. Well-furnished houses fell prey to looters who followed captors like hungry wolves.

These wretches looted houses and stripped defenseless owners off everything they had on their land. We found roads full with processions for about three miles long. The sick and weak were transported in wagons while many rode horses or walked on foot. Even old females traveled with heavy loads attached to their backs across icy ground or muddy streets without any covering on their feet except what nature had given them. We traveled a long time on our way to new lands. People felt sick when they left Old Nation; women cried while men bowed their heads silently as they went westward. Many days passed by with many people dying along our journey.

Many white settlers were squatting beyond existing border lines but asked state governors for protection from rampant depredations by Indians on whose lands they occupied. The US Army took action to move around 100000 American Indians living east from Mississippi River westward into Indian territory now known as Oklahoma.

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