Kusso-Natchez of South Carolina Indians
The Kusso-Natchez Tribe is also known as the Edisto Indian Organization. The Edisto Indian Organization differs from South Carolina's original Edisto Indian Tribe, which disappeared in the early 1700s. Today's Edisto Indian Organization adopted its name because tribal members lived near the Edisto River, which in turn took its name from the original Edisto Tribe (who also lived near the river).
- Alternate: Today called Edisto
- Possible meanings: ?
- Language family: Muskogean
SC Location, Territory
- Traditional: Near the Edisto River
- Today: Four Holes area in Dorchester County, Creeltown area in Colleton County
- The Kusso traditionally lived in South Carolina in the same area they occupy today. Shortly after South Carolina became a colony in 1670, the Kusso faced a series of conflicts with the white settlers. Due to fighting and European diseases, their population declined and they lost land to the settlers.
- Durning the 1960s, they began political activity to gain recognition and better living conditions.
- Homes: Rectangular "longhouse dwellings" made of saplings lashed together and coated on the outside with mud; lighter materials such as clapboards might have been used in summer.
- Villages: Villages consisted of individual homes and usually a council house for town meetings
- Farming – Corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and gourds
- Fishing – Salt and fresh water fish
- Hunting – Deer, bear and smaller game using bows and arrows, blow guns, and snares
- Men: Loin cloth made of deerskin in warm months; leggings, moccasins, and a cloak called a "matchcoat" were worn in cold months.
- Women: Knee-length skirts of deerskin; "matchcoats" similar to those of men in cold months. Natchez women blackened their teeth with a mixture of wood and tobacco ash.
- Both men and women adorned themselves with jewelry made of shells, beads, or metal and tattooing was common among both.
Beliefs and Practices
- Like most southeastern tribes, the Edisto had a complex belief system that stressed order. Their deities were part of the natural world, with the Sun being the most important.
- In addition to rites of passage and of purification for individuals, the Edisto held large communal ceremonies to mark the seasons and the yearly food cycle.
- The Green Corn Ceremony was the most important yearly ritual. It took place in late summer when the corn crop ripened. In preparation homes were cleaned, all food from the previous year was disposed of and all fires were extinguished. The ceremony began with two days of ritual fasting by priests and distinguished men in the center of the village. On the third day a new fire was kindled and the head priest gave a sermon to the entire village. Then preparations for a great feast were made which was consumed on the fourth day followed by singing and dancing. The ceremony was closed by all members of the tribe painting their bodies with white clay and then immersing themselves in water. This ceremony was thought to purify the village and prepare them for the year to come.
- Ball games, which were widespread among southeastern Native Americans, were played by Edisto men.
Related Kusso-Natchez Indian Resources
- Jersyk, Julie "Edisto." Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale Research, 1998, pp. 427-31.
- McAmis, Herb Indian People of the Edisto River: A brief history of the Kusso - Natchez Indians, often called "Edistos". Ridgeville, South Carolina: Four Holes Indian Organization, Edisto Tribal Council, 1996.