Monday, September 1, 2014

Relationship Between the Catawba and the Chickasaw



There was a historical relationship between the Catawba and the Chickasaw that is not well known. In researching my own family, in trying to discover owr own American Indian blood, I have run across many things that perhaps have little or nothing to do with my own family – I really don't know. I have tried to research all the locations where my family lived and in doing so researched the American Indian people who had lived in the same areas. This research brought me in contact with both the Catawba and the Chickasaw. I discovered some interesting relationships between the two tribes. Recently online I say a facebook entrance about an old map drawn by the Chickasaw on deer hide. I recalled a similar old Catawba map, also drawn in deer hide. All of these things resulted in the present research and blog posting about the relationship betwee the two tribes.

The Chickasaw are found in historic times from the eastern shore of the Mississippi River to Northwestern Alabama, and from Western Tennessee to the Northern half of Mississippi.

Per the above website, a band of the Chickasaw first moved to the area around Augusta Georgia from about 1723 to the time of the American Revolution.

According to the website above, a band of the Chickasaw settled near Augusta, Georgia in the early 18th century. By 1753 or 1757 (the website mentions both dates, I suspect one of them is a typo) they moved to the Carolina side of the Savannah River. After the revolutionary War, they lost the title to their lands.

One group moved east during 1723 at the invitation of South Carolina and settled on the Savannah River near Augusta, Georgia. They remained until 1783 when their lands were confiscated for their support of the British during the American Revolution. The eastern band spent a few years among the Creeks in eastern Alabama before rejoining the main body in northern Mississippi.

But there is also a state recognized Chickasaw Tribe in South Carolina today. They were recognized by the state of South Carolina in 2005.

I don't know if the modern state recognized tribe is related to the main body of the Chickasaw or not. There was a time the Lumbee, who are related to the Catawba and Saura, were called “Cherokee”. We now know it was North Carolina politicians that gave them that name, and that they knew all along they were not Cherokee. Perhaps the name “Chickasaw” is used for the same reason the Lumbee were once called “Cherokee”.

Wikipedia adds the following:

The Chaloklowa Chickasaw claim descent from a group of 50 Chickasaws who moved into South Carolina at the state's request in the 18th century, and they give the following as a source: Lippert and Spignesi 102. They say “Chalokiowa” means “turkey” in the Chickasaw language. They are based out of Hemingway, South Carolina.

As with many things, I remain skeptical of this modern day band of Chickasaw in South Carolina. But I don't know enough about them to deny their claim either. I looked “Hemingway” up on a map, and it looks like they lived where the pee-Dee Indians were last recorded, in Eastern South Carolina. Personally, until I see more evidence, I would suspect them to more likely be a remnant of the Pee Dee than of the Chickasaw. I could be wrong about this and freely admit it.

But I don't want this modern group to be confused with an earlier group who did settle on the South Carolina/Georgia, on the Savannah River, who were known to have been Chickasaw. This earlier group of Chickasaw Indians was invited by the South Carolina government to live along the Savannah River near Augusta in 1823, and they lost those same lands in 1783 because they chose to side with the English during the Revolutionary War. Most historians think these Chickasaw in South Carolina moved back to the Chickasaw Nation in Mississippi and Alabama. Apparently some South Carolinians think they went east.


From “The Catawba Indians, People of the River” by Douglas Summers Brown, Brown writes p. 323 that congress appropriated money for the Catawba to go to Oklahoma in 1848. Chief James Kegg wrote a letter to the president of the United States asking for permission to move to the west. Brown doubts however, that the president ever saw the letter. Brown says the government asked the Western Cherokee if the Catawba might live amongst them. Brown says John Ross replied emphatically, NO! But, Brown says, the Catawba themselves asked for permission to settle amongst the Chickasaw in Oklahoma. Quoting Brown, “The Western Chickasaw . . . had at one time invited the Catawba to settle amongst them. Government representatives promptly opened up negotiations with the Chickasaw among whom, the agent was told, some of the Catawba's descendants had already settled.” Continuing, it says, “The principle men of the tribe assured the agent that the Catawba would be welcome, but only the council had the right to invite them officially. But when a Chickasaw Council meeting was held in February of 1849, the Catawba proposal was voted down. This change of sentiment was attributed to the sudden death of old Chief Albertson, a strong advocate of the Catawbas.” I have found "Isaac Albertson's" name on several Chickasaw treaties starting in October 1832.

Did Chief Albertson descend from one of the Chickasaw who were living with/near the Catawba in the 1750s? I will continue to research these things.

Well, since one branch of my genealogy seems to go back to Fort Christanna, where a several bands of the Catawba, under the name Saponi, had been sent, and since my family later migrated to the Chickasaw Nation, this reference got my attention. I had an ancestor at Fort Gibson in the 1840s, but as far as I know, NOT the Chickasaw Nation, where were are located in the late 1880s, so the years are off. But it was sooooo close. Too bad . . .Still I was interested in this topic. Why had the Chickasaw ever invited the Catawba to live among them in the first place? What did they have in commom? The only common denominator seems to have been that at one time, from the 1720s to the 1780s, a small band of Chickasaw that had lived near the Catawba. Maybe there was something about that time frame that provided some friendship between the otherwise unrelated tribes.
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Well, what did the two tribes, the Catawba and the Chickasaw, have in common, if anything , in South Carolina? Now I have been doing a lot of research about the history of the Eastern Siouan bands. I had been looking for every old map I could get my hands on. One map, dated 1750, actually showed some Chickasaw living with the Catawba!

The “Chicasaw” are next to the Wateree in 1750. These have to be the Chickasaw who were near Augusta. This is a map of the Catawba towns in 1750. In a few years a great Small Pox epidemic will kill half of the Catawba people, and their numbers had already been declining.

The 1756 treaty offers a small insight. One provision of the treaty, Catawba Chief Haigler (whom the treaty also calls Arataswa) states, “We are in perfect amity with the Cherokees, Cowetaws and Chickasaws. The Cherokees have ever been our Friends, and as they are a numerous Nation, we acknowledge them to be our elder Brother.” Here Haggler acknowledges the Cherokee as a powerful tribe. The Coweta's are a major band of the Creek Indians. But Chief Haggler also speaks of the Chickasaw as their friends. This is only 6 years after the map showing some Chickasaw as living within the Catawba Nation in their own town. We know there were some Chickasaw in South Carolina at least until 1783. Some say they went back to Mississippi/Mississippi and others say some of them remained in South Carolina after that date. 

I will keep looking for any communication between the Chickasaw and the Catawba between the years 1756 and 1846 when according to the Catawba, the Chickasaw had previously invited them to reside amongst them. However that invitation was taken off the table.

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