Catawba chief. King Hagler (Haigler, Arataswa) is the best known of the Catawba chieftains. Nothing is known of his early life. He rose to power in 1750 or early 1751 after the previous chief, Young Warrior, and the other headmen of the tribe were ambushed by a group of northern Indians, probably of the Iroquois Confederation. Hagler had been hunting and was not with the group when they were killed. His first official act came in 1751, involving a peace delegation organized by Governor James Glen of South Carolina and Governor Dewitt Clinton of New York to treat with the Iroquois Confederation at Albany, New York. Hagler was accompanied on this journey by William Bull II and five headmen of the Catawba tribe. The Catawba and the Iroquois had been implacable enemies for hundreds of years, leading to much bloodshed between them, despite the great distance separating their lands. After signing the peace treaty, Hagler returned home to discover that a band of “northern Indians” had attacked members of the Catawba tribe. Two more peace envoys were required (1752 and 1761) before peace was finally established between the ancient enemies.
The Catawba under King Hagler supported the British in the French and Indian War by sending a contingent of soldiers to fight with Colonel George Washington in the winter of 1756 and the spring of 1757. A smaller contingent of Catawba returned to Virginia to fight with General John Forbes in 1758. While there they contracted smallpox. On their returning home, the disease quickly spread through the Catawba, killing half their population. King Hagler was not in the village at the time of the outbreak and again escaped death.
The single most important event of King Hagler’s reign was the Treaty of Pine Tree Hill, which he negotiated in July 1760. It provided for a reservation fifteen miles square (144,000 acres) on the border of North and South Carolina. The reservation borders were later fixed by the Treaty of Augusta, which was signed on November 5, 1763, shortly after Hagler’s death.
Although Hagler is commonly known in history as King Hagler, the title of “King” was not a traditional Indian title. Rather, it was bestowed on him by Governor James Glen sometime in the early 1750s. This was a common custom of colonial governors when dealing with Indian nations. Simultaneously, Governor Arthur Dobbs of North Carolina gave the title to James Bullen, a brave Catawba warrior during the French and Indian War. However, Bullen died before he could successfully challenge Hagler for leadership of the tribe.
On August 30, 1763, Hagler was returning with a servant from visiting the Waxhaws. He was ambushed on the road to Catawba Old Town on Twelve Mile Creek by seven Shawnees, who shot him six times and then scalped him.
Brown, Douglas Summers. The Catawba Indians: The People of the River. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1966.
Merrell, James H. The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.
Milling, Chapman J. Red Carolinians. 1940. Reprint, Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1969.