1500s to 1700s
The Historic era for Native Americans began when the first Europeans madecontact. The exact date of this for the area around Parris Island isunknown, but it may have been Spanish explorers about 1515. In the1520s, Spanish ships sailed into Port Royal Sound, calling it SantaElena. They recorded the area as being called "Chicora" by the natives.In the 1560s, France and then Spain colonized Parris Island, and bothhad frequent contact with nearby Indians, notably the Escamaçu and Orista (Edisto). In the mid 1600s, Parris Island was occupied by Indians calling themselves the "St Ellens," who were apparently Cusabo Indians,and greatly influenced by Spanish Catholic missionaries. Their large village was on the tip of the island in what is now the Charlesfort-Santa Elena National Historic Landmark near Legends Golf Course.
In the 1680s, Yamasee Indians began moving into the sea islands,establishing several large towns which carried on trade with Scottish and English colonists around Beaufort and Charleston. After the Yamasee War, most native groups moved farther inland, leaving the area around Port Royal.
Jean Ribault, leader of the 1562 expedition, erected stone pillars toclaim the region for France. He also tried to establish trade withlocal Indians. This engraving was drawn in the late 1580s.