A collection of 23 rare original, nondigital images by photojournalist Catherine Bauknight documenting the three-year period she spent with the Catawba Nation on the reservation near Rock Hill are on display at the Rose Gallery at USC-Lancaster’s Native American Studies Center through March 10.
The photographs, taken from 1997-1999 at the Catawba Reservation, are a visual telling of the Catawba’s cultural renaissance, history and place that they hold in South Carolina’s heritage. The first recorded contact with the Catawbas was in 1540, during Hernando de Soto’s North American expedition in search of gold. But Chief Bill Harris says the history of the First Nation People dates back further, approximately 6,000 years, when villages could be found along the Catawba River throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.
Bauknight became interested in documenting the Catawba Indians after mistakenly being told that the people – as a group – no longer existed. Monty Branham and Anna Speakswell, members of the Catawba Nation, guided Bauknight through cultural and historic aspects of the Catawbas, enabling her to capture rare moments in time. Her subjects include Branham, a potter; Speakswell; John George, a medicine man; master potter Evelyn George Brown; and tribal children.
To learn more about the Catawba Indians, stop by the Catawba Culture Center, 1563 Tom Steven Road, or see catawbaindian.net.