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Fighting SC Racism: the Waccamaw Indian People

Waccamaw Indian Chief Harold "Buster" Hatcher

Harold "Buster" Hatcher, chief of the Waccamaw Indian People in South Carolina, has been trying for at least two years to win approval from the state government to purchase usable surplus equipment for the tribe from the state.

Even though the Waccamaw Indian People is an official 501 (c)(3) organization, which is required by the state for eligibility, state officials insist that the tribe's people must live on a State Indian Reservation.

That is ridiculous, contends Hatcher. "Their rules say that any 501 can purchase from them unless you are an Indian Tribe. Then, the rules change and they require that Indians have to live on a reservation."

What's his personal view of this? "The Christians don't have to live in a church. Its bigoted," he told Not Fake News.

The Waccamaw tribe has a 20-acre plot, its "tribal grounds," near Aynor, SC, where it will hold its annual Pauwau festival Nov. 1-4. But nobody lives there except for a caretaker, and that doesn't satisfy the state. Hatcher and other South Carolina Indian tribes have been appealing the state's decision, to no avail.

"Your letter also states it is a tribal reservation; however, the documentation you submitted from the SC Commission for Minority Affairs list(s the Waccamaw Indian People as a tribe," the rejection letter from Tracy Price of the SC Surplus Property office states. "If you can provide information of it being recognized as a state reservation we will (be) happy to review the information for eligibility."

So Hatcher has taken his case to Gov. Henry McMaster, but so far no luck.

In a March 19, 2017, letter, explained that he has been working with the South Carolina Department of Administration "to get the state recognized tribes/groups eligible for services and /or products that are offered by them." Offered under the program are computers, office equipment and other useful items at a reduced price or free to qualifying entities.

"They're insisting that we are not eligible because we cannot prove our tribal grounds are in fact a state reservation," Hatcher wrote. "I believe that any recognized tribe/group, in the state who has tribal lands and those lands are listed with the state Department of Revenue as exempt, has a reservation. I am not sure what else it takes. They insist that we have to live on the reservation to qualify."

Hatcher told the governor in his letter, "I think that stance is bigoted, because other nonprofits 501 (c)(e) entities do not have to meet such a standard and Indians are not bound to live on reservations, as they seem to believe."

The chief asked the governor for a meeting. A couple of dates were set, he said, but then McMaster cancelled inexplicably.

Earlier this month, Hatcher emailed tribe members informing them that he has learned that McMaster plans to wait until after the elections to meet with any Indians. "Of course, I am told that he has meetings scheduled for Hispanic and Black organizations, before the election," he said.

All of this indicates, says Hatcher, that McMaster "has no respect for his Native constituents."

"I am offended by his attitude toward Indian people and I want to say so, with a loud voice," Hatcher said in his email. "Indians comprise less than one percent of the vote in the country and state so Indians cannot affect the outcome of the elections alone.

"So I am asking that many of you who can write send a personal letter to McMaster telling him you will stand with the Indians in this election and that Indians are citizens, too."

Then, Hatcher included the governor's address:

The Honorable Henry McMaster

Governor of South Carolina

State House

1100 Gervais Street

Columbia, SC 29201

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