The Waccamaw Indian People lived have survived terrible trials for more than 400 years….enslavement by the Spanish, near devastation by a range of European diseases and centuries of racial injustice. But their survival fight continues.
The Waccamaw are officially recognized by the State of South Carolina but their quest for federal recognition is proving far more frustrating.
An article in the Tuesday, 12/22, Post & Courier outlines why that struggle has Waccamaw Chief Harold “Buster” Hatcher frustrated and profane:
“To get federal recognition, a tribe must petition the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, showing that it meets seven mandatory criteria: (a) it has existed as a community on a continuous basis since 1900; (b) more than half of the group comprises a distinct community that can trace its origins to “historical times”; (c) the group has a formal political and social structure, including leaders with authority over members, since “historical times”; (d) the tribe can show governing documents, including membership criteria; (e) the group has remained an autonomous political entity since “historical times”; (f) no one in the group is a member of a different acknowledged tribe; and (g) Congress has not expressly forbid a federal relationship.
Those are a lot of anthropological, genealogical and historical hoops to jump through, and Hatcher isn’t altogether happy about it. But, if he succeeds, he and his people potentially will benefit from services that include special grants and government-backed loans, tax benefits, support for business development, help protecting natural resources, a range of social services, and assistance with infrastructure projects.
Most importantly, he said, the Waccamaw will find it easier to practice and uphold their cultural and spiritual traditions. They will have an incentive to forge closer bonds with one another, to pass on what they know to future generations, to channel the past and celebrate the present.”
To see the full P&C article CLICK HERE. You will encounter a paywall if you are not a Post & Courier subscriber. But here are some other informative links with easier access.
Check out the Waccamaw website WACCAMAW PRIDE, CLICK HERE
For a more personal look at Chief Hatcher, take a look at this 2015 video clip from SCETV.