The town lies on high ground near the Santee river, in a region abounding in swamps, limestone cliffs and pine forests.
In the middle section the Santee river is formed by the confluence of the Wateree, which is known in North Carolina as the Catawba, and the Congaree, which is in turn formed by the Broad and the Saluda, and the basin of this system embraces about one-half the area of the state.
The Combahee and the Edisto, in the southeast, and the Black, north of the Santee, are the principal rivers that rise within the Coastal Plain and flow direct to the ocean.
Other navigable streams are the Waccamaw, to Bucksville (50 m.); the Great Pedee to Smith's Mills (52 m.); the Cooper, to Strawberry Ferry (30 m.); the Ashley, to Lambs (13 m.); the Edisto, to Guignard Landing (260 m.); the South Edisto, to the North Edisto (11 m.); the Beaufort, to the Coosaw River (11 m.); and the Santee, to the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree rivers, which are navigable for flatboats.
In 1890 there were in the state 2893 untaxed and 3538 taxed Indians, the latter being citizens; in 1900 there were 3,322 altogether, all of them taxed; and in 1908 there were 3720, of whom 1270 were Omaha, 1116 Santee Sioux, 1060 Winnebago and 274 Ponca.
Included in the Dakota branch were the Santee and Teton tribes, the latter comprising the Brule, Blackfeet and Oglala Indians; in the Thegiha branch were the Omaha and Ponca tribes; and in the Chiwere branch, the Iowa, Oto and the Missouri tribes.
In 1908, however, almost all the tribal lands had been distributed in severalty: the Niobrara Reservation (under the Santee government boarding school for the Santee Sioux and the Ponca) had only 1130 .