Catawba Nation: The Tribe of Today

The Catawba people lived in South Carolina, North Carolina and parts of Virginia long before European settlers arrived. Their nation headquarters and Catawba Cultural Center are in Rock hill, South Carolina. According to the Catawba Nation website (, they lived in this region on their ancestral lands along the Catawba River for 6,000 years. The Catawba sided with the Patriot settlers when the settlers decided they wanted to be free of England, one of only three “tribes” to do so. The Catawba were fierce warriors and it made a difference for the settlers, but it did not protect the Catawba from Small Pox, which nearly wiped them out.

When many indigenous people in the region were being moved West as part of the Trail of Tears, State of South Carolina decided not to bother with the Catawba, not as thanks for fighting at their side during the Revolutionary War, but because they did not want to spend the money. State officials thought Catawba would go extinct because they were so decimated by Small Pox. They under- estimated the resiliency of the Catawba people.

And the Catawba people are still fighting. After their federal status was removed in 1951, The Catawba people reorganized and fought to regain that status.It took over 20 years to accomplish this, but they achieved it. Again they have proved that they are warriors and they are a strong, resilient people.

The Queen City

Today we arrived in Charlotte, NC called the “Queen City” because it was  named in honor of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, the queen consort of British King George III during the time of the city’s founding. According to Wikipedia, King George III married her because she was a minor German princess with no interest in politics, so she would not meddle in his affairs. She didn’t. She did introduce the Christmas tree to Britain by decorating one for a children’s party. Another reason to admire her according to this video, is she was the first black British monarch, way before Meaghan Markle.

Charlotte, population 879,709 is the largest city in North Carolina and one of the 20 fastest-growing cities in the U.S. The population grew from 500,000 in 2000 to over 900,000 in 2022.

It is not hard to see why people are attracted to Charlotte with its lower-than-average cost of living and warm climate. many parks and city attractions. Of course, with the boom comes gentrification, where many Black residents are being pushed out of neighborhood where that have lived for generations. See my next post on the story of the Brooklyn neighborhood.

Charlottesville, VA

After a long drive, we arrived in Charlottesville, VA. Charlottesville or “Cville” as the locals call it, is situated on the ancestral lands of the Monacan People. whose ancestors lived on this land for 10,000 years. Unlike the Powhatans, their neighbors to the East, the Monacans avoided contact with Europeans as much as possible. They gradually moved westward, away from the advancing settlers. Some stayed for several years at Fort Christanna, in Brunswick County, and eventually moved into Pennsylvania and finally to Canada, where they were adopted by the Cayugas ( After a 4 year battle, the Monacan people celebrated the saving of their historic capital of Rassawek in March 2022. They successfully forced an alternative route for the construction of the James River Water Authority (JRWA) pipeline, which would have destroyed Rassawek. It is illustrative for those of us fighting other such battles to look at this example.

We are staying at the Townsman Hotel on the historic downtown mall, There are a lot of similarities between Charlottesville and Ithaca: they are both college towns with nice outdoor walking malls, although the Charlottesville mall is 8 blocks long and has Ting concert pavilion at the end. Other similarities are: both towns are home to renown universities; they are surrounded by vineyards and both have a housing unaffordability problem. Charlottesville is addressing the problem of homelessness with the Built for Zero strategy being deployed in many communities across the county. Is this approach something that could work in Ithaca?

It was 75 degrees when we got here- un seasonably warm for February 23, when the daytime high is usually in the 40s. People were out in force and it was a treat to eat on a restaurant patio in the walking mall. People were out in force, and I would say Charlottevilles walking mall has a lot more energy than the Commons. And we were surprised to see that Donna the Buffalo are playing here next week.

Ithaca and Charlottesville are both liberal bastions in a conservative region. One difference is that Ithaca has not lately been a venue for a national alt right/KKK rally such the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that happened in 2017. However, we are not the enlightened safe haven we aspire to be. Ithaca also has had its KKK presence. This article in the Ithaca Times is a good reminder.

Fluffernutter Biscuit

We in stopped Greencastle, Pennsylvanbia (population 4,251), on the Maryland border to stretch our legs and get a snack; we found the Bean and Biscuit cafe that met our needs perfectly. Good food, good coffee, good company. We recommend it if you happen to be traveling on Rt. 81.

I had a fluffernutter biscuit, which was surprisingly good. John was excited about the door made out of a huge slab of wood. We each have our things…

Paw Paw, West Virginia

We intended our first stop to be Paw Paw,West Virginia to visit John’s high school friend Reed, and his wife Deborah. We will now save this stop for another trip and head straight to Charlottesville to make up for our delayed trip start. I would like to share what I discovered about this tiny town anyway. Paw Paw, named after the fruit tree that is native to the area, had a population of 410 people in 2020. Paw Paw is known for the Paw Paw tunnel through the mountain, The C&O Canal Company started work on the tunnel in 1836 estimating that it would take 2 years to build; it was built to save them from digging 6 miles of canal on the Potomac River. The canal’s main cargo was coal, brought from Cumberland Maryland and stops along the way to Washington DC. Due to riots, labor strikes by the Irish, English and German workers, fund shortages and difficulty digging through loose shale, the 3,118 ft tunnel through the mountain was not finished until 14 years later.  It sounds like it might not have been such a great investment. When the tunnel finally did open, there were often bottlenecks because it was impossible for boats to turn around or pass. Today the hiking trail through the tunnel is maintained by the National Park Service.

Another interesting fact about Paw Paw is that that grammy award winning Texas swing band, Asleep at the Wheel got their start on a farm in Paw Paw. West Virginia.

Stay tuned! Next I will report from Charlottesville.

Heading South

Well it is time to hit the road again for sunny beaches and new sights. We have planned a 3-4 week trip to Florida, taking our time on the way down and back to visit friends and explore new places. We have hit a snag already before we have gotten out of Ithaca. We will be delaying our trip for a couple of days because John came down with covid. Once again I have not gotten it, and am told I would have gotten it already if I was going to get it. Any other “covid virgins” out there? We will probably leave Thursday instead of today and alter our route a bit. I will share what we experience along the way. I am especially interested in learning about innovative ways communities are reconciling with their past and creating an equitable, sustainable future. I will also report on anything else we discover that is funny, beautiful or we find interesting. You are invited to come along.

Change Is No Good If It’s Not For The Better

This is a sad story all over the United States: Black communities erased by urban renewal in the 1960s and 70s.  There once was a neighborhood in the Charlotte, North Carolina  2nd Ward called Brooklyn. Due to racially segregated housing, all black people- poor, middle class and well-to-do lived in Brooklyn. There were Black owned businesses, churches and all kind of housing. It was a thriving, self sustaining town within a city. Everyone felt safe and all watched out for the children. In spite of poverty, there was a vibrancy to Brooklyn. Here is a video about the plight of Brooklyn.

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The good news is that the nation’s largest Black developer is leading redevelopment efforts with the input of former residents of Brooklyn. . The Development Partnership is committed to doing justice to the memory and spirit of what Brooklyn once was. We will see what develops.

Inn at Brandywine Falls

We spent two nights in the lovely historic Inn at Brandywine Falls in Cuyahoga Valley National Park between Cleveland and Akron Ohio. The four room inn, originally a farmhouse was built in 1848 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Although you would never guess her age, Katy Hoy, the innkeeper, is 92 years old. She and her late husband George opened the inn in 1988 after signing a 50 year lease with the federal government. The inn is chock full of antiques and offers an excellent formal breakfast every morning with homemade breads and other hearty, delicious items. On the wall behind us is a portrait of George Wallace, the founder of Brandywine.

We are heading home today, so signing off until our next journey, Hope you enjoyed traveling with us!

Did you know that there is a national park in Ohio?

We have driven through northern Ohio many times on our way to destinations in the west. We never knew that we were a stone’s throw away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park. My brief survey of people around me confirmed that few people know about Cuyahoga National Park even though it gets more visits annually than Bryce Canyon National Park!

Many people my age (old) do recall the heavily polluted Cuyahoga River catching on fire numerous times, most famously on June 22, 1969, helping to spur the American environmental movement (Wikipedia). Since then, the river has been extensively cleaned up through the efforts of Cleveland’s city government and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA).[12] In 2019, the American Rivers conservation association named the Cuyahoga “River of the Year” in honor of “50 years of environmental resurgence”.[13][14]

It was a glorious day for a bike ride. We rode 14 miles on the Tow Path Bike Trail along the historic Ohio & Erie Canalway. Fall foliage was at its peak and just gorgeous.

We came to little towns along the way, now part of the National Park, that were once thriving towns. Boston. Ohio was one of those towns. In 1974, in order to create the Cayahoga Valley National Park, President Ford ordered the town to be evacuated. There were rumors of a mutation-causing chemical spill and extreme paranormal activity. The Travel Channel made a movie of the town called Helltown (2017), which according to Snopes is mostly fiction. You can learn more about the movie here, which now I do think I want to see.

I would encourage anyone looking to hike, bike or canoe to consider a stop at the Cayahoga Valley National Park.

2022 Chicago Marathon

We ventured down to Chicago with Sebby, to watch Michael run the Chicago Marathon. We stayed at Freehand Hotel, not far from Grant Park and the finish line. We did the “spectator marathon” walking six miles to cheer Michael on from different spots.

After a successful race Michael came over to our hotel to take a shower and rest. Then he went to party with other runners from the his Brooklyn runners’ club. We went out to dinner at the Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery.

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