Lisa Collins is a DIHS History Hero!

Posted By Bill Payer on May 14, 2022 | 4 comments

Lisa Collins

The Daniel Island Historical Society is pleased to announce the History Hero spotlight is focused on Lisa Collins, the Administrator of the Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians.  

The Wassamasaw tribal community has existed in South Carolina since colonial times. The Wassamasaw are descended from the Catawba, Edisto (a subtribe of the Cusabo), Etiwan (a subtribe of the Cusabo) and Cherokee, as well as European American and African American ancestors.

Under pressure from white settlement, and population losses due to infectious diseases and the Yemassee War of the 18th century, surviving members of the various tribes intermarried with each other. The Wassamasaw Tribe is notably the only recognized tribe of Etiwan decent. The Etiwan were living on Daniel Island before the first Europeans arrived.

During the early 2000s, Lisa Collins was one of the driving voices leading the charge for official Tribal recognition.   A native community must go through the process of becoming a legal “tribe” to gain sovereign rights and a government-to-government relationship with the state. This process involves verifying that you are a native community that has existed in the state for more than 100 years and have legal and documented claim to the native bloodlines you are representing.  This is done to protect tribal communities and their established governments from infringement and impersonation from outside forces.

This recognition was granted after a long process in 2005 making the Wassamasaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians one of only nine tribes to receive official recognition by the State of South Carolina.

Collins has been voted in as the tribal administrator for the past 16 years and has served as a member of the tribal government for more than 20.

 After gaining Tribal recognition, Lisa has continued to push for tribal growth and recognition from the South Carolina government and general population.

For her long efforts and continuing work to, first establish, and now to maintain, awareness of the history and traditions of her people, The DIHS hereby names Lisa Collins a History Hero.

For more information on Lisa Collins and the Wassamaw Tribe of Varnertown Indians:

Wassamaw Tribe website

Official South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs list of recognized tribes

To read about others DIHS has turned the History Hero spotlight on CLICK HERE


  1. Aware of how difficult is the task of this magnitude to do the research, navigate through forms and documentation as well as jump or dance through hoops, I express appreciation and gratitude to Tribal sister Lisa Collins
    A vision without devoted action is only a dream. A dream shared is twice the dream. A Journey without challenges and hardships hasn’t really begun yet.

    Thank you Lisa and many others for giving voice to this Journey .

    Post a Reply
    • How few other indigenous groups that have successfully navigated the bureaucratic maze reinforces your point!

      Post a Reply
    • Thanks. Glad to do it. She’s more than deserving!

      Post a Reply

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