Comments on “The Catawba Nation” by Charles M. Hudson
These notes on Hudson's book are still in a state of flux. They are in the same order as Hudson placed them. Unfortunately, he didn't always place them in the correct chronological order, so this blog entry also isn't always in the correct chronological order. Eventually I'll get that all worked out. I just have a little time on weekends and after work to work on this. It'll take time.
Hudson skips back and forth in time some. If one seeks to discover how the Eastern Siouan fortunes or misfortunes change over time, this adds to the difficulty. I have tried to place events in such a manner that this we can determine changes over time. However, on the positive side, Hudson does mention the northern bands of the Catawba far more than Blumer did. We can see a little better what was going on with the Virginia Siouans. He mentions the Monacans and the Monatons. I am left to wonder if these are two spellings for the same people, just as I suspect the names of other bands are really different names for the same people. Whereas Blumer tells straight history, Hudson tells a little of how the people lived, and tells short stories mentioning several of these bands. Such stories are invaluable. However with singular unsubstantiated stories, one can never be certain the author knew what he was viewing. These stories are of great interest, but we must be careful in drawing any conclusions from them.
Lederer visited the Eastern Siouans (Catawba and Associated Bands) about 1670 and Lawson did the same about 1701.
Quoting Hudson; Our fullest early description of the Catawba comes to us from from the hands of John Lawson who visited them in January 1701 while on a journey from Charleston, South Carolina to the mouth of the Tar River in North Carolina. Having made contact with the Sewee, Santee, Congaree, and Wateree Nations while traveling on foot up the eastern banks of the Santee-Wateree-Catawba River system, he came upon the Catawba Nation situated a few miles from the present day 'Old Reservation'. (1)
First, we must make an effort to understand the people he is talking about. Hudson refers to the 'nations' of the Wateree, Congaree, Sewee, Santee, and Catawba. These are all part of ONE nation, one People, and NOT separate nations. It appears that some of the English only had a vague notion of this concept, where the Indians were concerned. What happens to each of these groups only makes sense once we realize they are all part of one greater nation.
Hudson adds; “The Waxhaw, Esaw, and Sugaree Nations were situated near the Catawba Nation, and all four appear to have been closely related.”
Apparently, Lawson tells little about the Catawba proper, but he does give a description of these other bands. Of these, Hudson tells us; Upon arriving among the Waxsaws, Lawson was entertained in a cabin that impressed him as being unusually large and well built. The Indians of these four nations lived in villages scattered through an area at about ten miles across. Each of these villages had a 'theatre' or 'stage-house' that was larger in size and different in construction from the bark-covered houses in which they lived. In these public buildings, ambassadors from other nations were received, political affairs were deliberated, and rituals were performed. Each village apparently had a government council of elders with a residing king and war captain, the relationships among these being governed by a personal code of etiquette.. At the same time as Lawson's visit, an ambassador from the Saponi Nation, located 150 miles to the north (2).
He speaks of dances performed for him, saying at the end of the dance the young men took their “sexual license” with as many as wanted, taking a woman for a “bed-fellow.”.
James Mooney was first to refer to the Catawba as “Eastern Siouan”. Hudson disagrees with some of Mooney's conclusions. In making his case, he makes a very important observation. While quoting Sapir, he says, “ . . . as Sapir was careful to point out, inferential evidence must be subjected to vigorous scrutiny and methodological rigor, otherwise it can lead to a to a badly distorted reconstruction, particularly in the hands of someone with a “theory”.(Sapir 1951:394). This is so very important, especially with respect to the origins of the Melungeons, as we shall see before the end of this book. One of the main reasons I am writing this is to explain why so many ideas about the Melungeons are in error. It is my hope that seeing the true origins of the Melungeons will will help develop some pride in their American Indian heritage, and that they shall learn to reject the many theories about their origins that are pure and utter nonsense.
In the late 19th and early 20th century studies were made of the Tutelo, Woccan, and Catawba languages, three of the tribes between the Cherokee and Creek tribes in the west and the Atlantic Ocean. All three proved to be of Siouan origin (3)
Mooney wrote “Siouan Tribes of the East”. In 1896. He concluded 26 of the tribes found in the Carolinas and Virginia were Eastern Siouan; Monocan, Saponi, Occoneechi, Sara/Cheraw, Keeauwee, Eno, Waxsaw, Sugaree, Pedee, Santee, Sewee, Wateree, Congaree, Mahoc, Nuntaneuck, Meipontsky, Shoccori, Adshusheer, Sissipahaw, Cape Fear, Warrennncock, Waccamaw, Winyaw, Hooks and Backhooks, Nahyssan, and Mohetan. Notice how many of them end in the “ee”, “i”, or “y” sound. Some end in the “aw” sound. A couple end in the “oc” or “euck” sounds. A few end in the “an” sound. If we delete the final “r”, “Adshusheer” becomes “Adshushee”, that final “ee” sound of many other bands. This is a remarkable uniformity for so many bands. Hudson saw a flaw in Mooney's classification, as no words or vocabulary exists for most of these bands. He saw no proof they were Eastern Siouan ancestry. But we shall see many of them moved in with the Catawba from time to time, I strongly suspect Mooney was right, but have to agree with Hudson that absolute proof of it is lacking (4).
Some evidence provided by Mooney, that Hudson downplays, however, include William Byrd's statement that the the Monacan and Manahoac languages were similar to Tutelo and Saponi. Of these languages, only the Tutelo is known, as Tutelo survivors moved in with the Six Nations, and thus their language survived longer than many of the others.
The map below shows most of these eastern Siouan bands. They do show the Coosa and Cusabo way too close to the Catawba and Associated Bands than I usspect they actually were. Anything named “Coosa” is of Creek/Muscogeean origin, which I suspect the origin of the Cusabo as well. Recall how Blumer stated there was a vast region between the Catawba speaking peoples and the Muscogean speaking peoples. I do not know how they come up with the date 1650 for this map, but it is a time frame about which we know very little. If you look at the Siouan bands as part of a great nation, we see them abandoning the northern regions of their territory between 1650 and 1700. I suspect most of Virginia was abandoned, and small parts of it retaken after the abandonment of Fort Christanna, resulting in the Monacan peoples in Amherst County, and the Melungeons on the Virginia/Tennessee border.
Below is a map dated about 1650. Between 1650 and 1700 some major catastrophe must have befallen the northern Siouan bands. The Manahoak, Saponi, Monacan, Tutelo and others flee the Western portions of Virginia to take refuge granted by Governor Spotswood of Virginia at Fort Christanna. There are several possible candidates for this catastrophe. One being the Iroquois, their ancient enemy, killed them in warfare. A second being the slave traders of South Carolina enslaved them and sold them in the Caribbean. They used local non-Siouan tribes on slave raiding treks to the interior. Of course this would give other Indian traders a chance to use the Eastern Siouans on a revenge raid against those who had raided their villages, thus helping to depopulate the entire region of Indians, making colonization easier for the English. A third reason would be of course, the small pox epidemics. Small Pox was known to travel through entire nations, wiping out half of the population at once. But it is clear the Northern bands were cut down first, leaving only remnants. It was in the next decade or two after their decimation that many of the southern bands came to the same end. The end of many Southern bands was a result of the Tuscarora and Yamassee wars. The following three maps will bear that out. Notice the changes in these maps, one a snapshot of about 1650, the second about 1700, and the third about 1720. Centuries of traditions, the evolution of languages and dialects, and of cultures, were forgotten and abandoned, erased from the earth forever. It is amazing that such a disaster could happen. Click on the map and it should expand.
Hudson spends pages explaining why/why not the “hill tribes” were/were not Eastern Siouan. He eventually concludes they lived at the location when they first came into contact with Europeans, for a very, very long time. He speaks of four Spanish expeditions – Panfilo de Narvaez, Hernando de Soto, Tristan de Luna, and Juan Pardo. These expeditions occurred between 1521 when a raid for slaves was made on the Chicora coast and 1569 when the Spanish established a settlement at Santa Elena and hoped to use the Indian farmers labors as a permanent food supply. The Spanish raided the area for slaves only rarely. Hudson mentions the slave raids might have caused the coastal people to migrate. There is a Shakori Band of these hill tribes a little inland that could correspond to the Chicori mentioned by the Spanish. Mention is made by Lawson of great flocks of pigeons between the lands of the Esaw and Sapona Indians (5). Esaw is also called Yesah, or Iswa. If you make the “Y” sound a “W” sound instead, you have “Wesaw”, which might correspond to “Waxsaw”. The Esaw and Waxsaw might be the same people.
The map above portrays the Catawba and Assiciated Bands closer to the time of Lawson, about 1700. Here is an interesting note on Indian slavery. Hudson tackles this topic a little more than Blumer. He states; “While warfare or raiding was definitely important in the Southeast, early colonial references to continual Indian wars were often rationalizations for enslaving the Indians. . . . we shall see presently that in early colonial times most of this Indian warfare was stimulated by Charleston traders as a means of acquiring slaves.” (6)
Hudson makes comments about the hill tribes of the Piedmont as being more backwards than their Cherokee or Creek neighbors. But what we know of the Creek and Cherokee runs forward from 1750 to the present, whereas all our knowledge about the Eastern Siouan 'hill tribes' flows from 1670 only up to 1750 by which time many of these hill tribes becomes extinct, or their numbers have been assimilated into the local populations. We could say the same about the colonists, that is, the colonists before 1750 were more primitive than those who came afterwards.
Hudson talks quite a bit about Lawson's observations of 1701. He states, “As Lawson journeys up the Catawba River, he successfully passed through the territories of the Waxsaw's, Esaw's, Sugaree's, and Catawba's . . . Unlike the hill tribes, all these groups were populous. In every village, beginning with the Waxsaw, Lawson saw a “townhouse” . . . Lawson said the last town house he saw was at Saponi, situated northeast of the Catawbas, on the Upper Pedee River . . . at Saponi, Lawson first mentions seeing protective palisades that were common in the Northern Piedmont. At the time of Lawson's visit, the Saponi were considering confederation with two other hill tribes, the Tutelo and the Keyauwee. The three, being small . . .thought they should strengthen themselves . . . and become formidable . . . (7). Some of the Catawba tribes are said to have practiced skull deformation. Hudson says; “. . .the Catawba were sometimes called “Flat Heads, but this usage was generally limited to the Iroquois, who referred to the entire Catawba Confederacy by this designation.” (8)
Interestingly, Hudson says the Indians living on the Catawba River were called “Esaws” until about 1710. After that time to the present, they were called “Catawbas”. He offers no reason for this change. Now the Esaw were also called Iswa, and Yesah. (9). The Esaw town is always, on maps, near the Waxhaw village. Both towns dissapear about the same time. They both end in the "saw" sound.
Little is known about the history and culture of the Piedmont Indians. Only the Virginia traders knew them at all, and they left us very little information about them. Hudson says that according to Lawson, the Eastern Siouans were middle men in trade with other Indians. Hudson says, “Lawson, for example, met a man named John Stewart, a Virginia trader residing with the Catawba King, who had traded there for many years.”
Quite a bit is suspected about these traders relationships with the Piedmont Catawba. For instance, Hudson says; When discussing Lawson who seemed to be paraphrasing Stewart; “They set apart the youngest and prettiest faces for trading girls. These are remarkable for their hair, having a particular tensure by which they are known and distinguished from those engaged to husbands. They are mercenary, and whoever makes use of them, first hires them, e greatest share of the gain going to the King's purse, who is the chief bawd, exorcizing his prerogative over all the stews of the nation, and his own cabin very often being the chiefest brothel-house.” Not knowing the meanings of several of these words Hudson uses, one can make pretty good guesses from the path his words wonder through. A court of law probably wouldn't accept the above as it is so-and-so saying so-and-so said something. It should carry the weight of any “gossip, meaning it may or may not be true.
I have seen others write of the influence of the South Carolina traders. Hudson however, speaks of the Virginia traders., saying in the late 17th century the Virginia traders influenced the Catawba and Piedmont Catawba. After the Oechonocanough massacre in 1644, a serious of forts were built in Virginia. These forts became jumping off points for expeditions into the interior of Virginia and nearby regions by the commanders of these forts.
Per Hudson, Abraham Wood was perhaps the most successful of of these explorers. He commanded Fort Henry at the falls of the Appomattox River. It was located near present day Petersburg, Virginia. Her Hudson, the Occaneechi Trading Path first went to Occoneechi Island on the Roanoke River, which ran straight to the Catawba, and from there to the Lower Cherokee towns. He also says “It was called the Catawba Trading Path.” If this trail was known by both names, this tells us something about the relationship between the Occoneechi an the Catawba. Also ending with the “ee” or “i” sound is a characteristic shared by most of the bands of the Catawba.. Hudson speaks of a second route from Fort Henry to the Kanawha River, then south to the Cherokee. Hudson speaks of a report by one Edward Bland, a trader who in 1650 made a trip to the falls of the Roanoke River, mentioned that Abraham Wood was with him. Upon haring a musket go off, Wood's Appamattuck guide reportedly said that it was “Wainoake spies”. If you remove the beginning and end of that word, you have “Ainoa”, or “Eno”. It appears these “Appamattock” Indians apparently, were NOT affiliated with the Catawba. It is the Algonquin tribes that have words that end in the consonant sound. All Cherokee words end ini the vowel sound, and it appears that so do many of the Eastern Siouan words (11).
In 1670, when John Lederer pased through a Monacan village, they were greeted by a volley of muskets, it was described as a sign of greeting. In 1671 Batts and Fallam mentioned fire arms were discovered in the Saponi village on the Staunton River. The same expedition mentions the Tutelo village near present day Salem, Virginia, gave a few shots of powder to a Mohetan Indian, stating his people were then living on the Kanawha River. Since both the colonies of South Carolina and Virginia forbade the sale of firearms to the Indians at this time, the presence of all these weapons is a puzzle. Indians at the coast had much easier access to muskets, thus making Indians in the interior an easier victim in the slave trade.
No one has successfully explained the origin of these firearms. One comment made by Abraham Wood. However. Might explain their origin. Woods mentions the Tomahittan Indians of the southern Appalachians visited him. And stated that they had about 60 guns “which were not of English manufacture.” I suspect these Tomahittans were actually Indians from Florida, although many acquaint them with the Cherokee, and they might be right. I just want to dot all my eyes, and cross all my t's. Wood sent Gabriel Arthur to live with them as a preliminary to trade. Apparently they forced Arthur to travel with them on raids, and he reported reported them on a raid to a Spanish town. They spotted a Spaniard and killed him, taking his weapons. This might account for some of the weapons the Indians of the interior possessed, but I suspect some South Carolina and perhaps Virginia traders also traded illegally in weapons (12), however evidence is wanting. Hudson gives a possible explanation for the Virginia Traders not writing about their exploits. He says, “. . . the Virginia traders left little or no account of their dealings with the Indians. Their failure in this was intentional . . . they wanted to to conceal their illegal in arms and ammunition.”
Hudson mentions the Tuscarora wanted to be the middle men, trade wise. He speaks of their trade with the Shoccores and Achonechy (Occoneechi). An Occoneechi Indian named “Indian John, also known a “Hasecoll, enroute to trade with the Tomahittans, is mentioned. It is presumed that he killed Needham, with the murder occurred because the Occoneechi wanted to maintain a monopoly on trade with the tribes in the interior. The Tomahittans fled. Arthur returned to the Sara village, and hired four Saura Indians to take their place. They would accompany him only as far as Eno Town, for fear of the Occoneechi's. It stated Wood went to visit the Tomahittan's and they returned to Fort Henry, but went by an indirect route through Tutelo Town and then to Monacan Town. From there to Fort Henry, skirting north of the Occoneechi's. As a result of these events, Per Hudson, Wood says of the Occaneechi; “. . .they are but a handful of people, beside what vagabonds repaire to them, it beeing a receptacle for rogues.”(13).
Later, we hear of Bacon's Rebellion. No account of the history of these Piedmont Catawba can be complete without some mention of Bacon's Rebellion. Hudson discusses this event, but only briefly. He says, “In 1676 the Occoneechi successfully withstood an attack by 200 Virginians, but in doing so they reportedly lost 50 men.” Hudson reports that sometime between 1676 and1701 them moved to a location near Hillsboro, North Carolina, where they are located as mentioned by Lawson in that year. A decade later, they, along with the Tutelo, Saponi and others, move to Fort Christanna (14).
After the Tuscarora and Yamassee Wars, here is a map of the locations of the various Catawban bands about 1720. You will notice several bands no longer exist, or have incorporated with other bands. This is an indication that they are banding together for strength, as their numbers have drastically fallen. I strongly suspect this is due to the Small Pox, and constant warfare driven by the slave trade. Notice the Saponi have moved to the northeast and the Cheraw have moved to the southeast. Vast areas of North Carolina are vacant of Indians, where the Tuscarora and several bands associated with the Catawba had been. The Esaw, Waxsaw and Eno have vanished simultaneously. We have the Saponi (really a unity of several bands that have moved together for protection) in the north at Fort Christanna. They represent all the bands previously in Virginia. It is thought warfare with the Six Nations vanquished them, but I suspect many were taken in slave raiding ventures by South Carolina traders using Indian allies of non-Siouan origins to capture them. Their absence clears the way for European settlement of central and Western Virginia. In or near the coasts of South Carolina we have the Cape Fear Indians to the north and the Settlement Indians nearer Charleston, their original band names having been lost to time. Only the Waccamaw are mentioned by name. Inland a ways are the Pedees, Cheraw, and Keyauwees. Still further inland we have the Catawba and Wateree. The Catawba are a grouping of several bands as well. There are great areas now uninhabited whereas previously there were several bands of Indians associated with the Catawba. The Tuscarora and Yamassee Wars have left a great deal of both Carolinas and Virginia uninhabited, now free and open to European colonization.
Hudson contrasts the South Carolina traders with the Virginia traders. “Unlike the Virginia traders, the Charleston traders conducted a lively business in Indian slaves. This becomes so prevalent that in contemporary documents the statement that the Indians had gone to war is virtually synonymous with saying they had gone to capture slaves. . . . Sometimes the traders would force their own Indian slaves to go out and capture ther Indians for slaves as a mans of purchasing their own freedom.” Often the traders would sell rum (illegally) to the Indians, and get them into a debt that they could not repay. The traders would then say they would forgive the debt if the Indians would go to war against a neighboring tribe to gain slaves of them. (15). Such slave raiding took place on a great scale. In 1715 trader Thomas Nairne boasted that the Yamassee Indians had raided the Florida Keys for slaves as Indians further north in Florida had for all intents and purposes, vanished, due to all the slave raids. The Indians finally grew tired of the South Carolina traders, and this resulted in the Yamassee War of 1715-1716. Hudson says this war was an end to the Santee, Sewee, Pedee, Congaree, Cusabo and Waxhaw. The survivors fled to either the remaining Spanish Indians near Spanish towns or the Catawba. After this war, the Catawba and Associated Bands never again acted on their own behalf in the political realm of their being an independent Indian Nation. All their future actions were were determined by their being a satellite of the South Carolina Colony. By the 1730s, the South Carolinians were far more worried about a Negro slave insurrection than an Indian revolt. Another account mentions that until about 1717, the colony exported more slaves than it imported. In short, there were few Indians left to enslave.
In 1735, John Thompson is called a trader with the Cheraw Indians on the East bank of the Pedee River. Hudson names 3 other 'later' traders with the Cheraw – Samuel Armstrong, Christopher Gadsden, and John Crawford. Hudson says Samuel Wyley was the most important trader to the Wateree about 1751. He later became an unofficial agent for the Catawba. Other interesting traders throughout the 1730's and 1740's were George Haig, and it is possible King Haigler was named for him. Thomas Brown set up his trading business at the Congarees about 1730. He had a son named Thomas Brown who was half-Catawba. In 1748 Haig and Thomas Brown Jr were captured by the Iroquois. Haig was killed and the young Brown was freed after being ransomed. A small pox epidemic in 1738 devastated the Catawba. Robert Steil also became a trader at the Congarees (16).
Please notice that Hudson has not mentioned the Northern Piedmont Catawba tribes in quite some time. They were all rounded up by Virginia's Governor Spotswood, and sent to Fort Christanna. Their numbers had been shrinking, and they needed to band together to help them survive.
In the 1740s the government still considered the Catawba a Nation, as opposed to the Settlement Indians. Per Hudson, these settlement Indians were for the most part, composed of Indian Nations that were quickly on the road to extinction, passing first by the way of assimilation. He says; “The settlement Indians consisted of Cheraws (Sara), Uchee's (Yuchi), Pedees, Notchees (Natchez), Cape Fear and others. Governor James Glenn stated in 1746 the Catawba had about 300 warriors. In 1743 Adair estimates the Catawba had abut 400 fighting men. Adair also says the Catawba Nation consists of over 20 dialects, and he lists a few of them – Katabhaw, Wateree, Eeno, Chewah, Chowan, Cangaree, Nachee (Natchez), Yamassee, Coosah, etc.(18).
By 1760 the Catawba were a small nation completely surrounded by White frontiersmen. Another small pox epidemic in 1759 had killed half again, of the Catawba Nation. In 1763 King Haiglar had been killed. In his place was elected Colonel Ayers. Hudson suggests Ayers fell out of favor with the South Carolina government, and Samuel Wyley, acting on behalf of South Carolina Governor Bull, persuaded the Catawba to get rid of Ayers, and they elected King Frow to take his place in 1765. The names of a few of his headmen exist. They were Captain Thomson, John Chestnut, and Wateree Jenny. By the turn of the Century, the Catawba no longer mattered. They were few in number, surrounded by Scots-Irish settlers who barely realized there were any Indians living in their midst (19).
And what became of the Saponi at Fort Christanna, or the Settlement Indians in lowland South Carolina? Hudson doesn't say. We will have to look elsewhere for the answers to these questions.
The Catawba Nation, by Charles M. Hudson
1. p. 1
2. p. 2
3. p. 6
4. p. 7
5. p. 16-20
6. p. 21-22
7. p. 26
8. p. 27
9. p. 28
10. p. 30
11. p. 31-32
12. p. 32-33
13. p. 35-36
14. p. 37
15. p. 39
16. p. 42
17. p. 46
18. p. 47-48
19. p. 51