Title: Albert Sanders
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Title: Albert Sanders
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Interviewee: Albert Sanders
Interviewer: Emma Echols
September 4, 1992
CAT 180

Albert Sanders is an eighty-eight year old former chieftain
of the Catawba Indians. In this interview he discusses his former
jobs, his activities as chief on behalf of the tribe, and the
recent settlement with the federal government.

Interviewee: Albert Sanders

Interviewer: Emma Echols

September 4, 1992

CAT 180A

E: This is Emma Echols, 5150 Sharon Road, Charlotte, North

Carolina. I am among the Catawba Indians, recording their

Oral History for the University of Florida [and] Dr. Sam

Proctor. I am visiting in the home of Albert Sanders, one

of the chieftains. I have his picture in my files, and I am

so glad to have a chance to visit with him today. Mr.

Sanders, how old are you?

S: I was born [on] October 10, 1904. So I will be 88 years old

this coming October 10.

E: Well, you have lived a long and very useful life. Tell me,

who did you marry?

S: I married Doris Blue.

E: How long has she been dead?

S: One year ago March 16.

E: You had how many children together?

S: Eleven.

E: Eleven children. How many of those are living?

S: Ten.

E: Ten of them are living. They are all living around Rock


S: Yes.

Now they have all gone to school?

Albert Jr. was the oldest.

Yes. I saw his picture; [he is] a fine looking boy over

there. What business is he in?


You have a fine family, and they are all close by you, are

they not?


Did your wife make pottery?


Some of them made [it] and some did not.

That is right.

Now where did you get your education?

On the reservation, what little of it I did get. That is

where I went. outside the reservation and other

places with that. I worked at the bleachery for fourteen


Fourteen years at the bleachery there?

Yes. When I first went there I used to [inaudible] down

here when they first started that.

That is right.

They came after me, at Manchester Cotton Mill, [in] Rock

Hill; and also [at] the old mill standing there now. Well,

they all wanted me. They found out who I was and saw what I

could do, and knew what I did; everybody was after me. So I

could pick a job when I wanted it, and [I would] get it. I

am not bragging, but I have been well known ever since I was

a young fellow, and there are many, many people who know me

today. I have a good name. I never have been in jail, or

locked up in my life.

E: Of course you would not. [Laughter] Now who was your father

and mother?

S: Well, my mother was Nora Elvina Sanders. She was a Gordon;

Sally Gordon was her mother. Bill Sanders (they called him)

or William Sanders was my daddy. John Sanders was his


E: How many years were you at the bleachery?

S: Fourteen.

E: Fourteen years. Then you were one of the chieftains,

elected by the tribe, for how many years?

S: Well, I was elected when I was up there at that time. I was

the one that got the place that they are on. I own part of

it, and some of it they sold. I left the reservation 630

acres as it is, divided among the people who got their share

in money and they stay on the reservation now and run it.

They run that, but I left that for the Catawba Indians on


E: Now you have your own three acres and your own home here.

S: That is right, this is mine.

E: And you have a daughter and a son living with you here?

S: That is right.

E: You were a wise person to take the land instead of the

money, were you not?

S: Well, I think so, because it was a whole lot cheaper at that

time. They sold what they did get, and I sold some of mine,

at that time.

E: Then you get a retirement pension from your job?

S: Yes. I draw a little now; it is not much, but I quit work

at that time, and took my retirement in 1962, you see.

E: Yes.

S: Okay. Well, I draw $490 a month now from that. That is all

I ever did draw. I raised my family and worked outside

where I could, and kept them going. I am still not hungry.

I am not what you would call a man with plenty of money and

plenty of this and that, but I did have sense enough to know

you would have to live according to what you made. I could

make so much with the crowd I had, and draw that too.

E: That is good. You had a small garden, [and did] your own


S: Well, I never was a man that worked a garden. I worked

outside. I was gone on different jobs, myself. My kids now

raise some things, but back in those times I never did farm

but one time in my life. I helped a farmer. That was with

Nelson Blue. That was way back before I was married. So if

you want me to tell you about that I can tell you. I can

tell you when my wife and I [were] married. We were married

December 14, 1925. Albert Jr., the first boy, was born

October 28, 1926, about 11 months after our marriage. He is

still living now. And the youngest is still here. And the

other now is dead and gone; she would have been living too,

today, I guess if it was not for [inaudible].

E: You have so many beautiful pictures all around here, and I

have some of these pictures, too. What do you remember of

the old church down on the reservation? Now you have a

brand new church. What do you remember about the old

Mormon church?

S: Well, all I ever knew was that I was born down there on the

old reservation, and the old church was torn down on the 630

acres now. And this other church is on the new land that I

[came up] with, invited up among the tribe at that time.

Most of my family were Mormons, but I am one not one of

those who pretend to be what I am not.

E: Now this is your son, Albert Jr., in Greenville?

S: The oldest one.

E: The oldest one. He is a fine looking boy. Now what is his

work? What job does he do?

S: Welding.

E: He is a welder.

S: Yes.

E: That is a very fine one.

S: What do you think is going to be the future of the Catawbas

now that they are getting the settlement? Will it affect

you or will it just be for the young ones?

E: No. According to the young ones, I would not tell you why,

they are not even on the roll. I got a roll up until a

certain time, but it was not on that 144,000 acres of land.

Actually, it was 144,000 acres of land that the Indians

owned when I was not here. But when I worked around and got

what I got for them, and put them where they are today.

That is the reason they are standing there; that is why I am

standing here. I have the same rights [that] you have, [I

can] do what you can do, if I had the money. I know I do

not. It does not handicap me from doing anything I want to

do if I am able to do it.

E: That is right.

S: I feed myself and fed my family and raised them where they

are today. I worked.

E: You not only had friends among the Catawbas, but you had

friends among the white people.

S: That is right.

E: Tell me some of the white people that you remember [were]

your friends.

S: My friends?

E: Yes.

S: Lots of them.

E: The Leslies were good friends of yours; William Leslie and

Johnson Leslie, and Mr. Greer Leslie who managed your

affairs for a while. Do you remember those [people]?

S: Who?

E: Greer Leslie?

S: Yes. I remember him well. I used to work for him


E: That is right.

S: He and I built that barn out there when I was a little


E: You helped to build that barn? [laughter] Well, that is

something. Some of you helped to build Neeley's Creek

Church, too.

S: Well, I did not work on that. I know what you are talking

about. [I knew] Greer Leslie, and I know Sprat, and Hayes

and all of those fellows. Actually, they know me today--

the ones in Columbia. All of those big shots that have the

big jobs, you know? They know Albert Sanders. If they [are

told my name] they know [me].

E: You are proud to be a Catawba Indian, are you not? You have

a rich heritage, and are proud of it.

S: That is right. Born one. My mother was Nora Sanders; she

married Bill Sanders. You see me [as I was] standing in the

picture there? That is the way I was raised. Sometimes I

had something to eat, sometimes I did not. My daddy worked,

and she died young. I came up in what you would call the

hard way. I worked public work myself when I got old enough

to work. That is why I made it today, and I am the one that

made the Catawba Indians what they are today, or they would

not have been here today. I put them there and got no

credit for it.

E: Well, lots of people remember you and give you credit for

the things that you have done. In Mrs. Brown's book, she

gives you credit as being one of the chieftains. That was a

good thing. If you have one word of advice to give to the

young Catawba Indians now, what would you tell them?

S: Well, I have told them all, and I [will tell them again]

today. Some do not agree with what I say, even living on

the old reservation that I left for them to live on at that

time. I do say, if the settlement comes up, I have the

papers in my locker that say who was born at that time on

that roll that I was on, and who I was at that time. I have

that. Like this other land [which] was divided up among the

ones at that time, they can do what they want with it. They

own that. They have to pay taxes on it. I do not. As far

as the old reservation, I left it as it was, when I

the State of South Carolina, not to be done away with. That

is the reason it is still down there. The younger ones, who

have been born since that time stay there on that place, and

says nothing about it.

E: Do you speak any words of the Catawba Language?

S: No. I was not born with the language. I do not know any of


E: Well, you have a wonderful spirit, and I hope that God will

bless you in the future.

S: You can ask anybody, any lawman, from anywhere else, and see

if they do not know me. I even went to Atlanta to Peachtree


E: Well, it has been a joy to be with you in your home and to

see the pictures of you and your wife and your children. I

like the picture of your mother. Are you with your mother

in that second picture on the mantle? Sitting on her lap?

S: Oh, no that is my daddy and his mother.

E: That is your grandmother, then?

S: Yes.

E: And your father.

S: Yes. That was way back, see.

E: Now who would your grandmother be?

S: I used to have some of that. That was in the Harris side.

E: Now the woman would be [who]?

S: Lucinda Harris.

E: Lucinda Harris. Then your grandfather would be?

S: John Sanders was [my] grandfather, and that is my daddy, his


E: Your daddy is sitting on her lap.

S: Yes.

E: Well, it has been a joy to talk with you.

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