CATAWBAS (from the Choctaw for “divided”), a tribe of North American Indians of Siouan stock; formerly the dominant people of South Carolina. Some of their divisions extended into North Carolina. They are now almost extinct, but were at one time able to send nearly 2000 “braves” into battle. In the American War of Independence they furnished a valuable contingent to the South Carolina troops. They then occupied a number of small towns on the Catawba river, but they afterwards leased their land and removed to the territory of the Cherokees, with whom they had been formerly at war. There, however, they did not long remain, but returned to a reservation in their original district. Their affinities have not been very clearly made out, and by Albert Gallatin they were grouped with the Cherokees, Choctaws, Muskogees and Natchez. A vocabulary of sixty of their words was published by Horatio Hale in vol. ii. of the Transactions of the American Ethnological Society in 1848; and a much fuller list—about 300—collected by Oscar M. Lieber, the geologist, in 1856, made its appearance in vol. ii. of Collections of the South Carolina Historical Society, 1858. Of the one hundred Catawbas still said to be surviving, few, if any, can claim to be full-blooded. They are in the Catawba Reservation in York county, South Carolina. The name is familiar in connexion with the white American wine, the praises of which have been sung by Longfellow. The grape from which the wine is obtained was first discovered about 1801, near the banks of the Catawba river, and named by Major Adlum in 1828, but it is now cultivated extensively in Illinois, Ohio and New York, and especially on the shores of Lake Erie.
See also Handbook of American Indians (Washington, 1907).