King Hagler

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King Hagler [Nopkehee]
Bornc. 1700
DiedAugust 30, 1763(1763-08-30) (aged 63)
OccupationNative American leader
Known forAdvocating for Native American rights
RelativesKing Yanabe Yalangway (uncle)
1775 map showing Native American lands in North and South Carolina, and part of Georgia. Tribes shown include the Meherrin and Tuscarora in northeastern North Carolina, the Catawba south of Mecklenburg County, and the Cherokee in the far western part of the state.

King Hagler (also spelled Haiglar) or Nopkehee (c. 1700–1763) was a chief or King of the Catawba Native American tribe from 1754 to 1763. Hagler is known as the "Patron Saint of Camden, South Carolina."[1] He was the first Native American to be inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.[2] He is known for opposing the sale of alcohol to Catawbas and other Native Americans[3] and for attempting to negotiate fair land rights for the Catawba people.[1]

Hagler is also known by several other names and other spellings, such as King Haigler, Haiglar, Nopkehe, Arataswa and Oroloswa. Hagler's anglicized name is possibly a nickname derived from his tendency to bargain or "haggle" over political decisions, although there is no conclusive evidence to support this.[1]

Early life[edit]

Hagler was probably born around 1700 in the region traditionally occupied by the Catawba along the Catawba River in what is now North Carolina. Little is known of Hagler's early life. He may have attended a European school in Virginia, because in April 1717 King Whitmannetaughehee agreed to send eleven Catawba boys to be educated for one year at Fort Christanna in Virginia. The boys were in fact hostages sent to guarantee the Catawba's promise to withdraw from the Yamasee War. Hagler may have been one of these boys, which would account for his fluency in English, much commented-on in contemporary records.[4][5][6]

Election as chief[edit]

Hagler became eractasswa (chief) after the death of King Yanabe Yalangway, who was murdered by a group of Iroquois warriors in October 1750. In keeping with Catawba tradition, the new chief (Hagler) was the former chief‘s sister's son. Immediately after Yalangway's death, Hagler was elected by the Catawba General Council to the lead the tribe.[3] Tribal politics were in chaos at the time, as fifteen of the most prominent Catawba leaders had attended a conference in Charles Town in the fall of 1749 and had all died of infectious diseases acquired from European settlers.[4] In spite of the danger, Hagler traveled to Charleston in late 1750 to receive a military commission as Chief of the Catawbas from Governor James Glen, a form of colonial recognition of tribal leaders.[7]

Peace treaties with other Native American groups[edit]

One of Hagler's first tasks was to negotiate a peace treaty with the Iroquois Six Nations. In June 1751 Hagler, accompanied by Lieutenant Governor William Bull and a delegation of Catawba leaders,[8] attended a peace conference in Albany, New York, where Hagler smoked a peace pipe with the Mohawk leader Hendrick Theyanoguin. In 1752 an Iroquois delegation visited the Catawba and an exchange of prisoners followed. The Catawba also brokered a peace treaty with the Shawnee, who were not members of the Six Nations federation. The Catawba were invited to incorporate with the Cherokee but Hagler refused this offer.[3]

Opposition to the sale of alcohol to the Catawba[edit]

Hagler became well-known for being one of the first Native American leaders to publicly oppose the sale and distribution of alcohol in indigenous communities. On August 29, 1754 he stated, in a speech in Catawba to James Carter and Alexander Osborne, Commissioners of the State of North Carolina:

Brothers, here is One thing You Yourselves are to Blame very much in: That is, You Rot Your grain in Tubs, out of which you take and make Strong Spirits. You sell it to our young men and give it them; many times they get very Drunk with it. This is the Very Cause that they oftentimes Commit those Crimes that is offensive to You and us and all thro' the Effect of that Drink. It is also very bad for our people, for it Rots their guts and Causes our men to get very sick and many of our people has Lately Died by the Effects of that strong Drink, and I heartily wish You would do something to prevent Your People from Daring to Sell or give them any of that Strong Drink.[9]

On 26 May 1756, he met with North Carolina Chief Justice Peter Henley in Salisbury, North Carolina to discuss the provisions of a recent treaty.[10] Hagler took another opportunity to decry the sale of alcohol to the Catawba:

I desire a stop may be put to the selling of strong Liquors by the White people to my people especially near the Indian Nation. If the White people make strong drink, let them sell it to one another or drink it in their own Families. This will avoid a great deal of mischief which otherwise will happen from my people getting drunk and quarreling with the White people.[11][12][13]

Hagler also attempted to discipline Catawbas who committed crimes while intoxicated, contrary to the traditional Catawba custom of pardoning such behavior as a form of temporary madness. In 1754 Hagler supported the execution of a Catawba warrior who, while drunk, had murdered a young girl. The execution was carried out by the perpetrator's cousin in the presence of colonial witnesses, "the White people, in Order to shew our Willingness to punish such offenders."[14]

In response to Hagler's complaints, regulations adopted at the Augusta Conference of 1767 attempted to limit the amount of alcohol brought into Native American communities: "Any Trader who by himself, substitute, or servant, shall carry more than fifteen Gallons of Rum, at any one time, into any nation of Indians...shall forfeit his bond and license."[15]

Hagler and Catawba land rights[edit]

Fort Catawba[edit]

In May of 1756 Hagler was asked to provide Catawba warriors to support the British during the French and Indian War (1754-1763), and he pledged to contribute the services of forty warriors. In return, Hagler requested that North Carolina Governor Arthur Dobbs supply gifts and ammunition and construct a fort to protect the Catawba while their warriors were away fighting for the British. Dobbs reluctantly agreed, and a site was selected and purchased near what is now Old Fort, North Carolina. He then sent General Hugh Waddell and a troop of rangers to begin building. The project was interrupted several times, as relations between Hagler and Dobbs were not always good, but the fort was eventually completed in late 1760.[8]

Pine Tree Hill Treaty[edit]

Between 1738 and 1759, a series of smallpox epidemics ravaged Native American communities along the east coast of North America. In the fall of 1758, twenty-five Catawba warriors returning from General John Forbes' campaign against the French, brought smallpox to South Carolina.[8] By 1759, the Catawba nation had been severely reduced, so that no more than a thousand Catawbas survived.[4] European settlers began encroaching on the Catawbas' traditional lands, now sparsely populated, leading Hagler to negotiate the Pine Tree Hill Treaty in 1760, with Edmond Atkin, Superintendent of Indian Affairs for the Southern District at Camden, South Carolina (then known as Pine Tree Hill). This guaranteed the Catawba a territory near Waxhaw, North Carolina occupying some two million acres along the Catawba River, in exchange for 55,000 square miles that the Catawba considered to be their traditional home, occupying part of North Carolina and much of South Carolina and extending into Virginia.[3]

Mortality from smallpox, influenza and other infections continued to reduce the Catawba population. On July 5th, 1762, Governor Arthur Dobbs wrote: "Their number of Warriors have been reduced in a few years, by Haglar's Confession, from 300 to 50 and all their males do not exceed 100, old and young included, so they are now scarce a nation but a small village."[16]

Death and burial[edit]

On August 30, 1763, Hagler was traveling to Waxhaw when he was ambushed and killed by a band of seven Shawnees.[3] He was reportedly shot six times and then scalped. The motive for the killing was never clearly determined. Hagler was interred with his most valuable possessions, but the grave site was desecrated by white settlers soon after his burial. His body was later moved to a secret location. Following Hagler's death, the conditions of the Pine Tree Hill Treaty were forgotten and the Catawba were forced onto a tiny reservation of 15 square miles near Lancaster, South Carolina.[3]


James H. Merrell characterizes Hagler as a shrewd negotiator who struck a balance between preserving Catawba tradition and adapting to the pressures of the growing colonial population:

On the one hand, [Hagler] operated within a dual colonial and Catawba framework he had not constructed and could not escape. He was not the first Eractasswa to acknowledge his people's dependence upon Anglo-America, nor was he the first to negotiate with colonial officials...On the other hand, however, Nopkehe was particularly well suited by background and temperament to fulfill the simultaneous demands of old and young, settlers and distant officials. By birth and upbringing he fit a traditional mold; through experience he had learned at once the futility of challenging colonial society openly and the means of manipulating that society covertly...At a critical time in the life of the Nation Hagler was instrumental in maintaining intercultural peace and internal unity, charting a course through the troubled waters of depopulation, dependence, and despair on which so many other Indian nations foundered.[1]


  • A weather vane depicting "King Haigler" with a bow and arrow was created by J. B. Mathieu in 1826 and placed on the opera house tower in Camden, South Carolina.[17] It can be seen today on the city hall tower in Camden.[18]
  • A portrait of King Hagler hangs in the South Carolina Hall of Fame, located inside the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach, SC. He was inducted in 2009.[19][20]
  • In October, 2012 a statue by Maria J. Kirby-Smith depicting King Hagler meeting Colonel Joseph Kershaw (1727-1791) was unveiled on Market Street in downtown Camden.[21][22]
  • In December, 2014 sculptor Chas Fagan created a statue depicting King Hagler meeting Thomas Spratt, one of the first European settlers in what is today Charlotte, North Carolina.[23][24][25]

External Links[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d James H. Merrell, "Minding the Business of the Nation": Hagler as Catawba Leader," Ethnohistory, Vol. 33, No. 1 Winter, 1986, Duke University Press; pp. 55-70.
  2. ^ "Colonial Catawba leader inducted into hall of fame," Indian Country Today, Apr 28, 2009
  3. ^ a b c d e f Thomas J. Blumer, Robert P. Smith, E. Fred Sanders. Catawba Nation: Treasures in History, American Heritage, Arcadia Publishing, 2007. ISBN 1625844220
  4. ^ a b c Scott Syfert, Eminent Charlotteans: Twelve Historical Profiles from North Carolina's Queen City, McFarland, 2018; pp. 9-24ISBN 1476630615
  5. ^ Douglas S. Brown, The Catawba Indians: The People of the River. Columbia, University of South Carolina Press, 1966
  6. ^ Mary Elizabeth Fitts, "Defending and Provisioning the Catawba Nation: An Archeology of the Mid-Eighteenth Century Communities at Nation Ford." Doctoral dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2015.
  7. ^ James H. Merrell, The Indians’ New World: Catawbas and Their Neighbors from European Contact through the Era of Removal, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, University of North Carolina Press Books, 2012. ISBN 0807838691
  8. ^ a b c Jerry C. Cashion, "Hagler (Arataswa or Oroloswa)" in the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, edited by William S. Powell. University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  9. ^ "Treaty between North Carolina and King Hagler and the Catawba Indians." Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, Volume 05, p. 144a. August 29, 1754 (retrieved 3 July 2019)
  10. ^ "Henley, Peter" from the Dictionary of North Carolina Biography edited by William S. Powell, University of North Carolina Press, 1996.
  11. ^ James H. Williams, "King Hagler, Catawba Chieftain," The Charlotte Museum of History
  12. ^ Mary Kratt, Charlotte North Carolina: A Brief History, Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009
  13. ^ "Report by Peter Henley concerning his conference with King Hagler and the Catawba Nation," Native Heritage Project, posted on September 6, 2012
  14. ^ William Laurence Saunders, The Colonial and State Records of North Carolina, Volume 05, p. 142. E. M. Uzzell, state printer, Raleigh, North Carolina, 1887.
  15. ^ "Regulations for the Better Carrying on the Trade with the Indian Tribes in the Southern District." Quoted in Kathryn E. Braund, Deerskins and Duffels: Creek Indian Trade with Anglo-America, 1685-1815. Indians of the Southeast, U. of Nebraska Press, 1996. ISBN 0803261268
  16. ^ Walter Clark, William Laurence Saunders, Stephen Beauregard Weeks, editors. The State Records of North Carolina, Volume 06, Trustees of the Public Libraries. P.M. Hale, 1888; p. 787
  17. ^ King Haigler and Opera House Clock Tower
  18. ^ Camden Opera House
  19. ^ South Carolina Hall of Fame: King Hagler
  20. ^ Mark Adams, "King Hagler," January 11, 2016
  21. ^ Camden, South Carolina: Statues of King Hagler and General Kershaw
  22. ^ King Hagler, Joseph Kershaw statuary to be unveiled at Town Green: Camden native honors fathers legacy through gift to city Chronicle-Independent, Oct 17, 2012, Camden, South Carolina.
  23. ^ "Thomas Spratt and King Hagler Sculpture," Charlotte Bronze Sculpture, January 2, 2015
  24. ^ "Thomas Spratt and King Hagler" by Chas Fagan
  25. ^ Joe DePriest, "Charlotte’s Trail of History adds statues of a settler and a chief on Friday," Charlotte Observer, December 04, 2014