north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The Catawba Indians inhabited the southeastern United States in what are now the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. They hunted, fished, and farmed in the once fertile soils of these regions; but, like all other Native American cultures, they were displaced by the encroachment of white European settlers. In 1760, the colonial government of South Carolina came to a tentative agreement with the Catawba to restrict the tribe’s lands to an area of fifteen square miles on both sides of the Catawba River. This tract was confirmed at the Great Congress of Augusta (a general treaty with southern Indian tribes) held in Georgia in 1763, during which the Catawba Nation negotiated with representatives of Great Britain for 144,000 acres of land.

      For the Catawbas, the reservation was a necessary evil. In the age of Indian removal, the tract at least offered an opportunity to help disrupt the spread of disease, and blunt the sequence of dependence, decline, and dispersal that had been the doom of many eastern Indian cultures. It promised a barrier against colonial Americans. Yet the Indians still found themselves in a constant fight to keep their lands. Establishment of the reservation also led to a boundary dispute between North Carolina and South Carolina that continued until 1772, when the Crown ordered a new survey and the present boundary was established. Nevertheless, disputes about the course and marking of the boundary line continued into the nineteenth century. South Carolina ran its own survey in 1881, as did North Carolina in 1886. The separate surveys differed to the extent of some 5,400 acres, but the traditional line is still regarded as the actual border between the two states in this area (southeast of Charlotte in Mecklenburg County).

      Today Catawba ancestors operate businesses in and around Chester County, South Carolina; and they maintain a reservation near Rock Hill in nearby York County. The Catawba Indian Reservation offers visitors living history and arts and crafts exhibits, while working with area business leaders and government agencies to improve living conditions for modern Catawbas.

James H. Merrell, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal (1989)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources