Native Americans of Pickens and Oconee Counties

No one can doubt the influence of the Native Americans as you explore the area surrounding Lake Keowee and Lake Jocassee. Both lake names are Cherokee in origin! Pickens and Oconee counties’ history is full of the brave Cherokee Indians.  Historians believe that over 4,000 years ago the ancestors of the Cherokee migrated away from the southwest and to the Great Lakes area.  Following wars with tribes in that area, the Cherokee then moved down to what would become a more permanent home in the foothills of South Carolina and the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina.

Back in the 1600’s was most likely the first contact the Cherokee had with traders from Europe, working in the Appalachian Mountains.  This Native American tribe had very skilled hunters and were known as one the of the most advanced of the Native American tribes.  They traded deerskins for metal tools, glass, cloth and such.  In 1821, a Cherokee warrior and silversmith by the name of Sequoyah introduced the Cherokee language in written form and thousands of Cherokee became literate through his work.

Today, the tribe of the Cherokee are the largest of Native Americans in the United States.  For further reading on this subject, feel free to visit SC’s Information Highway at