The Catawba Indians lost 144,000 acres along the Catawba River in an 1840 treaty with South Carolina.
More than 150 years later, South Carolina’s only federally recognized Native American tribe continues to struggle – having won some battles and lost others.
Never compensated by the state for its land, the Catawbas sued S.C. property owners in the 1970s, claiming that the 1840 treaty was illegal because Congress never approved it.
After a long battle, the state and federal governments settled the land dispute in 1993.
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In the deal, the Catawbas agreed to drop claims against 60,000 landowners. In exchange, the tribe regained its federal designation – lost in 1959 – was paid $50 million, including $12.5 million from the state, and given the right to open two bingo halls.
The money failed to be a boon for the tribe, whose court battles continued.
The Catawbas have sued the state for gaming rights on its York County-based reservation in hopes of creating jobs and income from video gaming and a casino. Those efforts have failed.