Column: Catawba Nation pays honor to eldest women in tribe
"In the tribal round room of the Longhouse on a beautiful fall Saturday afternoon, the Catawbas taught the world a lesson - to honor the oldest women among us.

Catawba Indians have lived on the reservation for as long as there have been people living in York County. And of the almost 2,800 known Catawbas on earth, with about half living locally, there are just two ladies over age 95. Elsie Inez Blue George, 96, and Bertha Mae George Harris, 97. They sat in leather chairs above all the tribal members, in seats fit for queens. Royalty.

Which both, plainly, are.

The Catawba women are culturally the peacemakers, event organizer Teresa Harris told the crowd, "a river that gives us life."

Just like the Catawba River named for this tribe that runs by only a few hundred yards from where those people sat Saturday. It was breathtaking in that round room. There was a rhythm from the traditional drum, beating, beating, like a collective heart. It pervaded the young kids who stopped giggling. It stopped babies from crying. It was magic, or God, or both.

Gilbert Blue, former chief of the nation for more than three decades, whose leadership turned the Catawbas from tribe to tribe and sovereign nation, put it plainly to a group of about 200 people in that round room. He spoke of the wisdom given, the lessons taught, the culture saved.

"It is an honor to honor our elderly people, who have taught us so much," said Chief Blue."

Get the Story:
Andrew Dys: A lesson for us all - Catawbas honor oldest women in tribe (The Rock Hill Herald 10/10)