Area Inhabited
Catawba
Nikki Kasal

The Catawba, a Southeastern Native American tribe, lived mainly along the North/South Carolina border. The landscape they preferred to inhabit were river
valleys, which were the ideal places for their agricultural prowess. These valleys housed the six main early villages, the largest of which was Nauvasa. The Catawba also inhabited Indian reservations for some time. In 1763, the state of South Carolina allotted them a reservation of fifteen square miles on both sides of the Catawba River. However, the Catawba sold much of it to the state, and the rest leased to other people for a few thousand dollars of annuity, leaving them with only a single
square mile to live upon.

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Everyday Life
Catawba
Nikki Kasal

The Catawba, also known as the “People of the River,” practiced many unique customs and traditions, evident in their everyday life. One of their most alarming practices was frontal head deformation, which consisted of binding the head at infancy with a stiff board tightly pressed against one’s forehead. The result was a sloping, deformed brow. The Catawba were primarily agriculturalists, growing most of what they needed to survive. They also fished and hunted for food. The men used a five-to six-foot long blowgun to strike birds out of the sky. Their preferred dwellings were bark-covered pole-frame houses, which were circular, as were the temples. Pottery, and ancient and highly developed art, was practiced at large.
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Religion
Catawba
Nikki Kasal

The Catawba practiced a religion a bit similar to Christianity. Their chief god was Manatau, thought to have three aspects: Manatau, the creator, Kaia, the turtle, and another aspect believed to be Manatau’s son. This trinity was thought to have been influenced by several members of the tribe when they converted to Christianity, thus reflecting the Christian trinity. In 1883, most of the tribe was converted to Christianity by Mormon missionaries, who directed them to the Church of Jesus of Latter-Day Saints.


Social and Political Organization
Catawba
Nikki Kasal

The Catawba’s social organization was built mainly on age, considering older people to be the wisest, thus obtaining higher status. Women enjoyed the same social rights as men. However, men progressed through the social ladder by advancing in their skills as hunters, warriors, and speakers. Women gained social status by excelling in the art of pottery, a major point of Catawba culture. Their political organization consisted of a council of elders, a headman, and a war captain. Then, when the six main early villages came about, it was decided that a chief, always from a specific kin group, would be elected by a council of leaders to govern the tribe.
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Art and Technology
Catawba
Nikki Kasal

Catawba art consisted of mainly pottery. Pottery was an ancient and highly prized form of art, and the people who excelled at it were higher in status. Their style of pottery is a simple, elegant style that often has a mottled pattern of tan, brown, and gray. Before shaping the clay, women and children had to dig it up alongside the Catawba River. After cleaning the clay, the Catawba women ground it into a powder, then added water until the clay reached the proper consistency. Their method of shaping the clay is also different from how most potters do it. Instead of using a potter’s wheel, the potter uses lumps or coils of clay to form their pots. The potter also uses many secret methods to shape the clay, passed down through family. A potter’s tools are her most prized possessions.
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