Summary of Native American Tribes – S

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Salish Dance, Edward S. Curtis, 1910

Salish Dance, Edward S. Curtis, 1910. Click for prints, downloads and products.

Salish/Flathead – This large and powerful division of the Salishan family, to which they gave their name, inhabited much of west Montana centered around the Flathead Lake and valley. They were called the Flathead Indians by the first white who came upon them. Though the name is often said to derive from the flat skull produced by binding infant’s skulls with boards, this is a myth. The  tribe never practiced head flattening, but instead, were called “flat head” because the tops of their heads were not pointed like those of neighboring tribes who practiced vertical head-binding. The Flatheads call themselves Salish meaning “the people.”

They subsisting more by roots, berries and small game than by hunting large game, as they were cut off from the buffalo country by their powerful enemies, the Blackfoot. They lived in houses of bark and reeds, as well as the skin tipi. Lewis and Clark estimated their population in 1806 to be 600, but by 1853 were said to have been reduced to just a little more than 300, primarily due to wars with the Blackfoot.

The Salish, along with the Pend d’Oreille and the Kootenai tribes, by the Treaty of Hell Gate on July 16, 1855, ceded to the United States their lands in Montana and Idaho. Today, they from part of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes who live on the 1,317 million acre Flathead Reservation in northwest Montana.

Saluda – A small tribe that originally lived on the Saluda River in South Carolina, they moved to Pennsylvania in the early 18th century. They may have been connected with the Shawnee tribe.

Samish – A Salish division formerly on a river and bay of the same name in Washington. The were moved to the Lummi Reservation in western Whatcom County, Washington.

Sanpoil – A group of Salish Indians who lived on the Sans Poil and Columbia Rivers below Big Bend, Washington. They were comprised of a band of Spokane and a band of the Okinagan tribes. In 1905 they were reported to number 324, living on the Colville Reservation, but in 1909, their population had been reduced to only 178, which may have been due to a clerical error. No treaty was ever made with these Indians for their lands when the Government taking possession of their country.

Santee – See Dakota

Santiam – A Kalapooian tribe formerly residing on the river of the same name, an east tributary of the Willamette River in Oregon. They were removed to the Grande Ronde Reservation, where in 1906, they numbered only about 23. Just three years later, in 1909, they reported to number only five people, the remainder evidently having received patents for their lands and became citizens.

Sappony – Also spelled Sapponi and later referred to as the Person County Indians, they are an eastern Siouan tribe, who have long lived in North Carolina and Virginia. Their language appears to have been the same as the Tutelo to the extent that the people of the two tribes could readily understand each other. They were engaged in war with the Virginia settlers as early as 1654-56, the time of the attack by the Cherokee, probably in alliance with them. They were first mentioned by explorer, John Lederer in 1670 who placed them on a tributary of the upper Roanoke River. At that time, they were living with the Tutelo, but later when they were harassed by the Iroquois Indians, they moved to the junction of Staunton and Dan Rivers, where they settled in what is now Mecklenburg County, Virginia.

By 1740, most of the tribe they had traveled northward to Pennsylvania and in 1753, the Cayuga tribe formally adopted the Sappony and Tutelo. Having become a part of the Six Nations, they later resettled in New York. When the Tutelo fled to Canada around 1770, they parted with the Saponny and what became of them afterward is not known. It appears, however, from a treaty made with the Cayuga at Albany in 1780, that a remnant was still living with this tribe on Seneca River in New York. However, of those Sappony who did not travel with the rest when they went north, they continued live in the the central Piedmont area straddling the North Carolina-Virginia border.

Today, there are 850 members of the federally recognized Sappony tribe, with a reservation on the North Carolina-Virginia border in the area of Christie Store. They established an Indian church in the 1830s and an Indian school, High Plains School, that was in use from 1888 until 1962. They were also known for the unusual occurrence of blue and grey eye color in many of their people. Local legend has it that they might be a mixed remnant of the Lost Colony; however, the Sappony themselves do not comment on this legend.

Saturiba – A Timucuan tribe in Florida they occupied both sides of lower St John River northward to the Satilla River in Georgia in 1565. They were at war with the Timucua, their nearest neighbors higher up on the river, and afterwards, also warred with the Spaniards. However, they welcomed and aided the French during their short stay in the area. Their chief was said to rule 30 sub-chiefs, each perhaps representing a different village. The name may have been properly that of the head chief rather than of the tribe, the two being frequently confused by the early explorers. All the Indians of this region were Christianized by Franciscan missionaries before the end of the 16th century.

Satsop – A Salish division who lived on the on Satsop River in Washington. They are usually classed under the collective name of Lower Chehalis.

Saturiwa – Connected with the Utina tribe, they lived about the mouth of the St. Johns River in Florida and perhaps, on Cumberland Island. The chief of this tribe ruled over 30 subchiefs, but it is uncertain whether these subchiefs represented villages belonging allied tribes, the Saturiwa tribe, or both. They were visited by Jean Ribault in 1562 and probably by earlier explorers. Fort Caroline was built in the territory of the Saturiwa, who were friendly with the French until they were dispossessed by Spain.

The chief, known as Saturiwa at this time, assisted Dominique De Gourgues in 1567 to avenge the destruction of his countrymen. The Spaniards espoused the cause of the Utina tribe against Saturiwa ten years later. The tribe soon submitted to Spain, however, and was one of the first missionized, its principal mission being San Juan del Puerto. Like the other Florida Indians, they suffered severely from disease in 1617 and 1672. The name of their chief appears among those involved in the Timucua Rebellion of 1656, and the names of their missions appear in the list of Bishop Calderon in 1680. However, afterwards, nothing more of them was recorded.

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