The Catawba Indians -- Rocky Path to Success
Almost everyone who has taken Interstate 95 to Florida has driven through North and South Carolina -- the old Catawba Indian territory. The town of Santee, South Carolina lies halfway through the state and marks the spot where, for years now, the tribe has wanted to set up a high-stakes bingo parlor (offering jackpots of more than $100,000). According to The State newspaper, the Catawbas' bid for gambling rights been a rocky path:
1980 -- The tribe sued the state in federal court, claiming South Carolina cheated it out of nearly 144,000 acres that had been its reservation, created by treaties of 1760 and 1763.
1993 -- A settlement was reached with state and federal governments after more than a decade of negotiations. Part of the settlement allows the Catawbas to run a bingo hall on their reservation.
2000 -- The state banned video poker.
2002 -- The S.C. Education Lottery opened for business.
2004 --The tribe claimed it needs video poker -- or, preferably, high-stakes bingo -- because the state-run lottery hurt its bingo business, cutting revenues in half.
2005 -- A circuit judge ruled the tribe, under the 1993 agreement, could get into the video poker business.
2007 -- S.C. Supreme Court ruled the legislative ban on video poker applied to the Catawbas.
October 1, 2007 -- U.S. Supreme Court decided it would not hear the Catawbas' appeal, closing the door on their legal bid to bring back video poker. The tribe's attorney, Jay Bender, said the only option left was to go to Congress. 
Or will it be Congress that goes to the Catawbas? On October 6, U. S. Representative Jim Clyburn stated that he would help the Catawbas get their bingo parlor if the tribe requests his assistance. Because the Catawbas are the only federally-recognized Indian tribe in South Carolina, Clyburn would invoke terms of the Indian Gaming Regulation Act, which has nothing to do with the 1993 settlement. Opposition to high-stakes bingo remains high among state legislators, and Clyburn, who had first recommended federal-level authorization back in 2003, is by no means guaranteed success. 
WHO ARE THE CATAWBAS?
The Catawbas are a people who have lost their ancestral language. The tribe gained federal recognition in 1993, thirty-three years after the death of the last speaker of the Catawba language. Although "Siouan" brings to mind Dakotan Indians of the western United States and the Assiniboine of Canada, there were once seventeen widespread Siouan languages. The extinct Tutelo, Biloxi and Ofo were spoken in the Mississippi Valley.  The Catawba's ancestors crossed the Appalachian Mountain range hundreds of years before the Europeans came to America. 
Today's 1,400 Catawbas speak English, like their neighbors in York County, South Carolina (south of Charlotte, North Carolina). Their traditional homeland lined the banks of the Catawba River that now borders both Carolinas. The current Catawba reservation covers 640 acres, near the small town of Rock Hill.
The decline of the Catawba language began in the 1800s, when children switched to English from Catawba at the age of twelve. By the 1900s, few Catawbas spoke the native language. Nowadays, there is a movement to revive Catawba on the reservation. 
Most Catawbas rejected Christianity until the 1800s. Their chief tribal god was "He-Who-Never-Dies," who kept the balance of the universe. The Catawbas worshipped a host of minor spirits who caused and cured the sicknesses and injuries that afflicted human beings. Humans had immortal souls, and murder victims had to be avenged, to bring peace both to the spirit and the grieving family.
Religious healers appeased the spirits with rituals and with medicines made from berries, plants and bark. One tool of their trade was a comb-like item known as a "scratcher," used to cure lameness. The teeth of the comb were rattlesnake fangs.
In the nineteenth century, some members of the tribe became Methodists and Baptists, but the arrival of Mormon missionaries in the 1880s transformed the spiritual life of the community. By the 1920s, 75% of the tribe had converted to Mormonism and today most Catawbas are Mormons. The exceptions are the few "wild Indians" (yeh-asuri) who reportedly keep the old ways in the woods inside the reservation.
The old Catawba chieftains (eractasswa) were less rulers than masters of ceremony. They held no political power, but instead were the "official reps" of the tribe who greeted visitors and found them lodging, spoke to outsiders on behalf of the tribe and made merry or led the mourning at public events.  Public speakers enjoyed high status, as did hunters and warriors.
Women were equal to men and acquired social status as potters. Elder men and women were venerated. 
Among the Europeans, Catawbas seldom owned slaves and tended to stay apart from African Americans. 
In the 1600s, the Catawba nation counted from 5,000 to 10,000 members, but had delcined to 400 people in 1775. The traditional enemies of the Catawbas were the Cherokee, Iroquois and Shawnee. 
A CATAWBA TIMELINE:
Around 1566 or 1567: First contact with Europeans. Spaniards explored the territory without settling.
1650: The Catawba and the Iswa tribes united.
1670s: The Catawbas allied themselves with the new British colonists for protection against their traditional enemies – the Cherokee, Iroquois, and Shawnee.
1689-1763: The Catawbas fought with the British in the French and Indian Wars.
Throughout the 1700s: The Catawbas absorbed a number of smaller tribes devastated by European diseases, whiskey and war.
1711: The Catawbas fought with the British against the Tuscarora Indians of North Carolina.
1715: Joined with other native tribes and fought against the British colonists during the Yemassee War.
1763: A 15-square-mile reservation was established for the Catawba on the South Caroina border of the Carolinas.
1776: The Catawbas fought with the colonists against the British and Cherokee in the Revolutionary War.
1840: The South Carolina government promised the Catawbas a new reservation for the land they were occupying. When the state kept the land but broke its promise to the tribe, the Catawbas moved temporarily to North Carolina. Some members joined the Cherokee tribe.
1850: The tribe bought their current reservation land with treaty money.
1944: The Catawbas drew up a tribal constitution.
1962: The Catawba tribe disbanded, giving up its official status. Land goes to individual members.
1973: The Catawbas reorganized as a nonprofit organization.
1993: Federal recognition of the Catawbas as an active American Indian tribe. Catawbas received $50 million US not to reclaim 144,000 acres of their land in York County.
• FOR MORE INFORMATION: "Catawba Cultural Preservation Project" website
 Burris, Roddie. "High Stakes Bingo Dispute: Clyburn Offer to Help Catawba Indians' Cause." The State newspaper (Columbia, South Carolina). October 6, 2007. NewsBank America's Newspapers on DISCUS, South Carolina's Virtual Library. Accessed on October 20, 2007.
 "Ethnologue" website, "Language Families: Siouan" web page http://www.ethnologue.com/show_family.asp?subid=91106.
 Merrell, James H. "Catawba" in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures: North America. Boston: G.K. Hall & Company, 1991. Volume 1, p. 53.
 Bruch, Susan M. "Catawba" in the Gale Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes. Detroit, Michigan: Gale, 1998. Volume 1, p. 375.
 Merrell, p. 54 and Bruch, pp. 375-376.
 Merrell, p. 54.
 Sciway.net "South Carolina – Indians, Native Americans – Catawba" web page, http://www.sciway.net/hist/indians/catawba.html. Accessed on October 20, 2007.
 Bruch, p. 373.
 Bruch, p. 374 and Sciway.net.