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NATIVE AMERICAN FLAGS

The Catawba

One of the newest Federally recognized tribes, the Catawba or "People of the River," have lived on the border regions between the Carolinas for centuries. They are renowned for their exceptional pottery, which serves as the key element of their flag.

A centered seal dominates the burnt-orange background of the Catawba flag. The seal dates from 1974-1975 when the Executive Director of the tribe needed official stationery. Wanda George Warren, a high-school student at the time, designed a proposed seal in her commercial art class, after having contacted tribal leaders and elders for ideas on appropriate symbols. She produces several designs, one of which was selected. Except for slight artistic modifications in 1994, Ms. Warren's design has been used as the tribal seal ever since. [Flag-survey response from Dewey L. Adams, Catawba Indian Nation]

Occupying the middle of the circular seal, a tan pot -- placed on a light-green disk and edged in black -- carries a side-view of Chief Haigler, the first Chief of the Catawba Nation. The Chief is kneeling on his right knee, with his left hand resting on what appears to be a rock; his head is adorned with a traditional eagle-feathered headdress and is shown, along with his upper body and feet, in red; his pants are tan. Behind the pot the light-blue Catawba River, a central feature of Catawba lands, flows from the top, makes a sharp right-hand turn behind the pot, and exits the light-green central disk at lower right.

Surrounding the light-green disk is a burnt-orange band bordered in black and carrying, also in black, the inscription "GREAT SEAL OF THE CATAWBA INDIAN NATION." A vivid-yellow sunburst circles this band and forms a regularly serrated design edged in black; it is backed by the same burnt-orange hue that constitutes the background of the flag and reminds us of terra-cotta pottery. Beyond the sunburst, a thin black circle defines the outer limits of the seal. The Catawba flag thus unifies a famous symbol of past and present craft -- their pottery -- with the newest symbol of the Nation's sovereignty.

Don Healy, Bisbee, Az 85603