The Catawba Nation: A Rich History of Culture and Heritage in South Carolina

The Catawba Nation is a North American indigenous tribe of Siouan origin that has a long and vibrant history in the state of South Carolina. With more than 3,300 registered members, the Catawba people have been living in the area for centuries, trading deer hides with Europeans for items such as muskets, knives, kettles, and cloth. During the 18th century, settlers began to move to the Piedmont region, and the villages of the Catawba became an important hub for trading between Virginia and Carolina merchants. The Catawba were eager to take advantage of the opportunity to build new land in North Carolina and receive payments from South Carolina. To secure their land rights, two different methods were used by the tenants.

Richard Austin Springs and Andrew Baxter Springs, sons of a prominent Catawba leader, both held positions in the South Carolina state legislature. The Six Nations also reserved lands west of the Blue Ridge Mountains for themselves, including the Indian Highway or Great Warriors Trail (later called the Great Wagon Highway) that crossed through Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. For decades, the Catawba filed multiple land claims against the government due to an illegal treaty signed by South Carolina in 1840 and the federal government's failure to protect their interests. The chiefs and ringleaders of the Catawba Indians agreed to cede, sell, and transfer all their rights, titles, and interests over their land limit to South Carolina. The survey plan was conducted by Samuel Wiley on February 22nd 1764 and is now stored in the Office of the Secretary of State. In 1944, South Carolina granted citizenship to Native American residents of the state but did not give them the right to vote or hold office.

In 1999, a state ban was passed on the possession and use of video poker devices. The Catawba then filed a lawsuit against South Carolina claiming their right to use video poker and other similar electronic gaming devices on their reservation. In 1763, colonial government of South Carolina confirmed a reservation for the Catawba of 225 square miles (580 km2; 144,000 acres), on both sides of the Catawba River within current counties of York and Lancaster. Before leasing system and even before royal treaties, Catawba's lands were not considered individual parcels with benefit value. Despite a long history of relations with United States, state of South Carolina, and even colonial England, it took decades for the Catawba to find a safe home and recognition. Two men (and their families), important tenants of Catawba's leases were crucial components of outcome of Catawba's land claims and future agricultural production on Catawba's land. White came to forefront during Civil War and Reconstruction mainly because determination to defend white supremacy in South Carolina by assuming leadership positions in Ku Klux Klan.

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