Catawba (kətôˈbə) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Siouan branch of the Hokan-Siouan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). They have for centuries occupied a region in South Carolina around the Catawba River; they are noted for their ancient traditional pottery, which they still produce. Once a large and powerful group, they waged incessant but unsuccessful war against the Cherokee and tribes of the Ohio River valley. Fighting and European-introduced smallpox reduced them to a small group in the 18th cent. In 1962 the Catawbas' relationship with the federal government was terminated; in 1993, however, tribal status was restored and their reservation enlarged. Tribal headquarters are at Rock Hill, S.C. In 1990 there were close to 1,000 Catawba in the United States. The last speaker of Catawba died in 1996.
See D. S. Brown, The Catawba Indians (1966); C. M. Hudson, The Catawba Nation (1970).
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