Chief Samuel Blue was the driving force behind the political revival of the Catawba tribe. It was during his second administration that the Catawba finally became a federally recognized tribe and recovered parts of their original reservation.
Catawba leader. Samuel Taylor Blue, chief of the Catawba Tribe for three administrations (1931–1938, 1941–1943, and 1956–1958), was born on August 15, 1872, on the Catawba Indian Reservation near Rock Hill. His Indian name was Namé Patki, which means “Big Bear.” The son of a white farmer, Samuel Taylor Blue, Sr., and a Catawba woman, Margaret George Brown, Blue spent most of his life on the reservation, where he learned much of the history and culture of his people. He spoke the Catawba language, though not fluently, and was an authority on tribal history. Because of his character and charisma, he was referred to as “Chief” for much of his life. In July 1887, at age fourteen, he married Minnie Hester George, by whom he had three children. After her death he married Hester Louisa Jean Canty on May 8, 1897. He had another twenty children with her. Hester Louisa was reputed to be the last full-blood Catawba. She was a master potter and a fluent speaker of the Catawba language, and she seems to have been well regarded both inside and outside the tribe, as was her husband.
Chief Samuel Blue was the driving force behind the political revival of the Catawba tribe. It was during his second administration that the Catawba finally became a federally recognized tribe and recovered parts of their original reservation. Chief Blue was also a spiritual leader, serving for forty years as president of the Catawba branch of the Mormon Church, to which most tribal members belonged. On a trip to Salt Lake City, he was given the headdress and regalia of the western Sioux. He often wore the regalia for tourists who expected that kind of dress by Indians, even though the traditional attire of the Catawba was quite different. Chief Blue died on April 16, 1959.
Brown, Douglas Summers. The Catawba Indians: The People of the River. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1966.
Hall, Jerry. “‘Big Bear Is Dead’: Chief Blue Bids Farewell.” Rock Hill Evening Herald, April 17, 1959, p. 5.