Excerpts from Senate Document 144 (54th Cong, 2d sess.)
The following is from Senate Document 144 (54th Cong, 2d sess.). A descendant of the Mr. McDowell mentioned above as helping prepare part of this document, was kind enough to share this document with me.
Steven B. Weeks, class of 1966, PhD, Johns Hopkins University; Library of the University of North Carolina, the Weeks Collection of Carolinia. 54th Congress, Second Session, Document #144. The Catawba Tribe of Indians, February 23rd, 1897.
Sir, I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of 23d ultimo, with the following papers:
A memorial on behalf of the individuals formerly comprising and belonging to the Catawba tribe of Indians. . . I transmit herewith a copy of a communication the 29th instant from Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to whom the matter was referred.
I return herewith the memorial of the Catawbas, and transmit herewith copies of the correspondence referred to in the Commissioner’s letter, which contains, it is stated, a full and complete testimony of those Indians as described from the files and records of his office and other sources, with his views concerning the policy to be adopted regarding them.
Very respectfully, D. R. Francis, secretary, The chairman, Committee on Indian Affairs.
Sir, I am in receipt, by department reference, of ???? a memorial in behalf of the individuals formerly comprising and belonging to the Catawba tribe of Indians, with request that the inquiries contained in said memorial be answered and information concerning the statements therein and the appended memorandum be furnished.
The memorial submitted by Senator Pettigrew is signed by James [Page 2] Bain, President, and George E. Williamson, secretary, of the Catawba Indian Association, and they ask on behalf of the individuals formerly comprising and belonging to the Catawba Tribe of Indians, to be informed “as to the status of the tribal lands of the Catawba Indians formerly belonging to the Catawba Tribe of Indians, and to secure anything that might be due them as accruing from said lands; and also to receive any or further relief, help or benefits they may be found, upon careful investigation of the facts in their case, to be entitled to receive in right, justice, or equity from the United States or otherwise in the matter of new homes in the west or to their lands in the east.”
. . .
D. M. Browning, commissioner
The Secretary of the Interior.
To the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled,
Your petitioners come representing that they are representatives of the individuals and their descendants who were formerly the members of the Catawba Tribe of Indians that owned and occupied lands in the states of North Carolina and South Carolina, that in pursuance of the policy of the United States to remove all the Indian tribes to new homes to be provided for them west of the Mississippi River, Congress passed an act July 19, 1848 [Vance’s note: my Browns, my g-g-grandparents, first arrived in Arkansas during that year, 1848], appropriating $5,000 for the removal of the Catawba Tribe, with their own consent, to the west of the Mississippi River, and for settling them and subsisting them one year in new homes first to be obtained for them (9 Stat L. 164); that nothing was accomplished under this act; that the provisions and appropriations thereof were reenacted in the act of July 31, 1854 (10 Stat. L. , 316); that some efforts were made to secure for the Catawbas new homes among the Choctaw and Chickasaw Indians of the Indian Territory.
End of direct quote.
[Vance’s note: my family did this -- they lived in the Choctaw Nation in the 1870s and in the Chickasaw Nation from the late 1880s until Oklahoma became a state (1907).]
It then goes on to say many families left their homes in the Carolinas headed towards Indian Territory (Oklahoma) with the hopes that the government would have homes ready for them in the new territory. This my family did NOT do at that time – they left the Carolinas between the 1790s (Waylands) and the 1820s (Brown’s) – decades earlier. He speaks of families being stranded.
Then it says (direct quote) –
(Page 3) . . . The present location and number of those Catawba Indians who went west, expecting to be located on lands west of the Mississippi River by the Department of the Interior are as follows, as furnished by James Bain, President of the Catawba Indian Association at Fort Smith, Ark.:
Greenwood, Ark., 44; Barber, Ark., 42; Crow, Ark., 13; Oak Bower, Ark., 3; Enterprise, Ark., 6; Fort Smith, Ark., 17. Total Arkansas, 125.
Checotah, Ind. T., 17; Texanna, Ind. T., 15; Jackson, Ind. T., 15; Star, Ind. T., 34; Panther, Ind. T., 22; Oaklodge, Ind. T., 10; Redland, Ind. T., 4; Rainville, Ind. T., 2; Indianola, Ind. T., 3; Center, Ind. T., 4; Ward, Ind. T., 3; Sacred Heart, Ind. T., 1; Steigler, Ind. T., 2. Total 132.
Grand Total 257. End of direct quote.
Later in page 3 and in page 4, there is talk of Catawba Indians in Colorado wanting to join the Ute tribe.
. . . Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Affairs, Washington, March 28, 1896.
Sir, I am in receipt of your letter of Feb 22 . . .in the matter of the claims and demands of the Catawba Indian Association to the United States, published at Fort Smith, Arkansas, giving the proceedings of a convention of Catawba Indians held in that city April 15, 1895, called for the purpose of considering the condition, status and welfare of all Catawba and non-reservation Indians, and to take action in proclaiming an allotment of land under the fourth section of the general allotment act of Feb. 8, 1887 (24 Stat. L., p. 388) as amended by the act of Feb., 28, 1891 (26 Stat. L. p. 795.).
This memorial purports to come from the Catawba Indians, comprising they allege, “all persons of Catawba descent, and their descendants, including all persons who have intermarried with Catawba Indians, and all persons of mixed Catawba and White blood and descent residing in any of the states and territories of the United States or in Indian Territory, claiming further that the United States has never made any provisions for them.
. . .
You suggest that arrangements might be made whereby they could take land in severalty within the Kiowa, Comanche and Wichita reservations, Oklahoma Territory, when the unallotted lands of said reservations shall be opened to settlement . . .[Vance's note: This actually was two large reservations, with the Kiowa, Comanche, and two bands of Apache (Apache Tribe of Oklahoma -- once called Kiowa-Apache and Fort Sill Apache -- descendants of Geronimo, his warriors and their families) living together, and the other, the Wichita and Associated Bands, the Caddo (with associated bands), and the Western Delaware (those that migrated to NE Tx early in the 19th century) in the other.].
In reply I have to reply that the Catawba Indians are a division of North American Indians which included in the last century about 28 confederated tribes. The few survivors of this people are on the Catawba Reservation in York County, South Carolina . . . end of direct quote.
The author of these pages mentioning some of the history of these Indians as well as some names of a few allied tribes. They talk about the history of the Catawba until page 8. Then they start talking about the Morrison band than were adopted into the Choctaw Nation until the top of page 10. After this they mention more than 80 Indians found in Georgia. They say –
No action appears to have been taken by the government or any of the Indians on the question of their removal to the Choctaw or other Indian country until 1872, when Hon H. C. Harper, of the House of Representatives from Georgia, brought to the attention of this office the question of the removal of certain Indians from North Carolina and Georgia. Presuming they were Cherokees, this office requested him on the 13th of June, 1872, to furnish a list of the names and ages of said Indians. In reporting the names, Mr. Joseph McDowell of Fairmont, Georgia, under date of October 1872 (Misc. M., 229) stated that the Indians referred to, and asking relief of the government, wre Catawba Indians, and 84 in number. End of direct quote.
If I counted correctly, 14 names were italicized. Quoting again from the document –
Those italicized desired permission of the president to settle in the Indian Territory, all of whom Mr. McDowell states were good and loyal people . . . their grandfathers on both sides assisted the government in the war for independence, and that their names were on muster rolls in the war department. William Guy, of Granville County, Georgia and Simon Jeffers of Bellville, Virginia, Catawba Indians, served 5 years in the Army, and were honorably discharged, and these 84 persons were their descendants.
As these Indians were Catawbas and not Cherokees, Mr. McDowell was informed Oct. 22, 1872 that they could not receive any of the benefits arising from the Cherokee Removal fund of 1848. A schedule of 70 persons very similar to the foregoing list, each containing many of the same names, was forwarded to this office by Mr. McDowell, Oct. 19, 1869 (Misc. M. 1805), but for the same reason no relief could be granted them at that time more than in 1872.
[Vance’s note: this might explain why so many descendants of the Catawba and confederated tribes tried to sign up as Cherokee in the 1890s -- the Catawba were assigned no lands and hence could not be allotted lands in Indian Territory.].
On the 21st of November, 1887, James Kegg, of Whittier, North Carolina, in addressing the Secretary of the Interior (# 31383), made the following statement, viz:
Many years ago, his people, the Catawba Indians, leased the land they owned in South Carolina and became a wondering tribe without homes for their wives and children. They made applications he states, to the Cherokees of North Carolina for homes upon their land . . . that about 500 or so were adopted . . . that some 300 or so were removed west under the Cherokee treaty of New Echota [Vance’s note: this treaty was passed in 1835] . . . Those Catawba remaining in South Carolina, Mr. Kegg states, had no interest whatever, in the lands which were leased out by those who became Cherokee by adoption . . .
There have been frequent communications from and concerning the Catawba Indians since 1888, but none involving or furnishing any new facts of information concerning the history or status of these Indians or their lands.
. . .
. . . I know of no reason why these Individual Indians may not take up lands in severalty under the fourth section of the act of 1887 aforesaid. I do not think it would be practicable or wise to ask the President to withhold from public settlement the land ceded by the Kiowa and Comanche Indians by their last agreement, when that agreement is ratified by Congress, until such Indians had first taken allotments thereon. They could conform to the act of 1887 as all other Indians in like condition have to do.[Vance’s note: I have a 3x5card showing my great-grandpa leased land for cattle grazing from the Kiowa agency. Also several great Uncles settled on the Kiowa/Caddo lands (in both Kiowa and Caddo Counties – they border each other) when it was opened for white settlement late 19th/early 20th century.]
The memorial is herewith returned,
D. M. Browning, commissioner
R. V. Belt, esq, 1314 10th St, NW, city
end of quote
ps -- we have found a second reason why non-Cherokee Indians would claim to be Cherokee -- the first being the Catawba were ineligible for land before this ruling UNLESS they said they were Cherokee. The second reason being mention of a migration of about 500 Catawba at one time, and 300 at another (perhaps the 300 were a part of the 500 -- the statement lends itself to ambiguity) and says these were adopted into the Cherokee Nation. So it is possible that some of them really thought they'd been adopted into the Cherokee Tribe. They tried to tell us they belonged to the Catawba and associated bands, but the government told them if they were Catawba, they'd receive no benefits, and no lands -- lands that every other tribe was to receive. So they tried to say they were Cherokee to receive benefits. It seems there really was a generation that knew their true origins -- and they knew they were not Cherokee when they applied for the Cherokee rolls, but they had no choice.
The Catawba and other Eastern Siouan Peoples are not extinct! But we are not eligible to be legally called "Indians" either. We lost our heritage, our tibal identity, and now are more White, or Black, than Indian. We have been absorbed, assimilated, into the mainstream of America. I am afraid that's it.