Fort Mill, a picturesque city located in the northern part of South Carolina, is steeped in history. It owes its name to a colonial-era fort built by the British and to a grinding mill near Steele Creek. The Catawba Indians made their home here for many years, and Scots-Irish settlers began arriving in the 1750s and 1760s. Thomas Spratt and his wife Elizabeth were some of the first settlers in the area, and their descendants still live here.
Fort Mill was established in 1873 and is situated between two points: a fort built by the British to protect the Catawba Indians from marauding tribes to the north, and Webb's Mill. Lancaster County (also known as Garden Spot of America) is approximately 60 miles north of Columbia, South Carolina, and 40 miles south of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the mid-18th century, South Carolina had not obtained permission from North Carolina to move the Catawbas to the Cherokee Reservation. This caused a conflict between South Carolina and the tribe over the provisions of the Ford Nation Treaty that continued until 1905, when the Catawbas began a legal battle to recover their land.
This ruling allowed them to file land claims against South Carolina and some 61,000 landowners.
Indigenous landscontinue to draw more residents and visitors, and Forbes magazine has highlighted them as one of the most important “booming cities” in the country. In the bipolar racial world of South Carolina during segregation, Catawba Indians felt excluded since they did not consider themselves “black” but were not accepted as “white” (census takers in South Carolina at the beginning of the 20th century categorized Catawba Indians as “black” because they had no category for Indians). The tribe was small at the time and comprised only ninety-seven individuals recognized by South Carolina as residents on or near the Catawba reservation.
The activism of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the early 1970s served to revive their determination to re-establish their right to land. Congress recommended that South Carolina “take such measures as, for the sake of the satisfaction and safety of that tribe, the legislature deems appropriate, at its discretion”. South Carolina acquired 3,434 acres of farmland for a federal reserve and ceded it to the department secretary. Residents of Indian Land love it for its tranquil country life, friendly community and family environment.
Many places are named after these tribes to demonstrate their significant role in South Carolina's history. Today, Fort Mill is home to many attractions such as Carowinds amusement park which straddles the border between North and South Carolina. Unfortunately, with European arrival came a drastic decrease in Native American population in South Carolina and throughout the United States.