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An Indian's Take on Immigration: Don't Take My Cheese

Indians are the original Americans and like no other people they know what its like to be displaced by “immigrants.” Waccamaw Indian Chief Harold “Buster” Hatcher believes today’s battle over immigration is a tragedy fostered by greed.

Hatcher made the comments in the video above during an interview earlier this week as we are preparing a documentary video regarding his effort to gain federal recognition of the Waccamaws as a tribe, as has been granted by the state of South Carolina.

To me, Hatcher's opinion is particularly worthy of note. Here is a man who represents a group of Americans who were here long before any white person ever set foot in South Carolina. The Waccamaws know full well what it is like to be cast aside, to be brutally treated, by immigrants -- the white settlers who forced them from their lands.

Yet today, Hatcher believes this new wave of immigrants, mostly of Hispanic origin, are being horribly mistreated because of fear, prejudice and greed. Listen to his words. I encourage you to do so.

Chief Hatcher is a direct descendant of Indians who lived in what is known as the Dimery Settlement, a 300 acre tract of land north northwest of Conway purchased in 1813 by a man known as John Dimery, an Indian who chose that Anglicized name. According to the Waccamaw Indian People's constitution, the tribal chief must have genealogical ties to the Settlement and be elected by the Waccamaw People at large.

According to documentation by the Waccamaws, those 300 acres were part of a 1,000 acre tract on which the Waccamaw People lived and hunted, but never legally owned, according to the statutes of South Carolina. Therefore it was taken from them, causing Dimery to make his purchase.

"The fact that he had to buy the land that his family lived on, that's an irritant to me," said Hatcher. "The persons who bought the 300 acres were the same people who already lived there, but who now had to negotiate to stay. Indians did not keep records of birth, death, marriage or real estate and did not have to use "sir or last" names," he explained. "They never owned land and just occupied it as long as was necessary, then simply moved on. Ownership of land came with the Europeans. The very concept of owning the earth was foreign to the natives."

Today, we of European descent know full well the importance of land ownership, of protecting what is ours, of acting against those who are deemed to be a threat. Now, under the Trump administration, it has been decided that immigrants of Hispanic descent constitute such a threat.

Chief Hatcher believes the way they are being treated today is wrong. "It's like we got this piece of cheese and you ain't getting any," he said. "I despise greed and that's what this has got to be."

I agree with Chief Hatcher.

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