Lesson Plan

Native American Connections

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Grade Level:
Third Grade-Eighth Grade
Language Arts, Revolutionary War, Social Studies
Group Size:
Up to 24
in the park
National/State Standards:
SC: Social Studies: 3.2.5, 3.2.7, 4.1.6, 8.2.6 ELA – 3rd - II-A, B, C; V- A, B; 4th - IV-A; V-A; 5th  II-A; V-A; 6th  V; 7th - V-A, B


GOAL: To introduce students to Catawba and Cherokee culture in the Revolutionary Era Carolinas and have them access the role of each in the American Revolution.


The student will identify the Cherokees and Catawbas and locate their original homeland on a map.
The student will analyze Cherokee loyalty to the British, and, conversely, conflict with Americans.


Numerous Native American groups made their home in the Carolinas. Among these, the Cherokees and Catawbas are most known for their involvement in the American Revolution.

The Cherokees are most known today in North Carolina, but they were more dominant in Colonial days in South Carolina. At first, Anglo-Cherokee relations were good. Beginning at Charles Town, traders traveled the Cherokee Path to Cherokee settlements such as Keowee and beyond to settlements in present-day Tennessee. Trade in deerskins became a big business. Peaceful conditions were not to last, however. Anglo-Cherokee conflict began in the 1750s because of Cherokee complaints over dishonest traders and settlers coming onto their lands. Relations worsened when South Carolina’s colonial governor sought to solve the conflict with military force. The British and Cherokee warred with each other from 1758-61 in what was called the First Cherokee War.

Tensions remained, but the Cherokees accommodated themselves to some extent to European society. This was to change drastically, however, when the American Revolution began. The Cherokees, as with many tribal people, sided with the British against Scots-Irish and other settlers, whom they considered squatters on their lands.

In retaliation, American armies ravaged their lands in what became known as the Whig-Indian War (1776), even though the events in the 1770s - 1780s involving Cherokee, Shawnee, and other tribes were part of the American Revolution. The Cherokee choice was fatal, however, bringing great change to Cherokee society and leading to increasing demands for their removal to the west.

European settlement affected the Catawbas also, bringing fundamental change to their culture and territory. They differed from other tribal societies, however, in that they actively aided the Patriot cause, in part because they lacked enough warriors to stop Backcountry settlement and because of their traditional animosity toward the Cherokees. Gratitude for their service won respect and helped ensure their cultural survival, albeit a drastically changed existence.


Additional Resources

Calloway, Colin G. The American Revolution in Indian Country: Crisis and Diversity in Native American Communities. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Hatley, Tom. Dividing Paths: Cherokees and South Carolinians Through the End of the Revolution

Huff, Archie Vernon, Jr. The History of South Carolina in the Building of the Nation. Alester G. Furman, III, 1991.

Jones, Lewis P. South Carolina: One of Fifty States. Orangeburg, South Carolina: Sandlapper Publishing Co., 1985.

Thornton, Russell. The Cherokees: A Population History. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990.

Merrill, James H. The indians New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

Merrell, James H. "The Indians' New World: The Catawba Experience," William and Mary Quarterly, 3 ser. 41 (Ocotber 1984), pp. 537-565.

Last updated: April 14, 2015