The reflections on the black water of South Carolina's Waccamaw River were so vivid yesterday that it was almost impossible to discern where the river ended and the huge moss laden trees actually began, except, perhaps, for the ripples as a fish surfaced or a turtle slid from its perch on a log into the water.
As the pontoon boat captained by Matt Vernadore, owner of Waccamaw Outfitters, Conway, SC, moved quietly along, an egret was flushed and soared skyward and an alligator, lounging in the sun, slid into the water.
"No worries," Matt assured. "You're too big for them to eat."
Considered one of the finest blackwater rivers in the Southeast, the Waccamaw provides clean drinking water, scenic landscapes, diverse fish and wildlife, outstanding recreation, and is an economic driver for the area. It also has played an important part in the history of the Waccamaw Indian People, native Americans who have made their homes in the region.
Videographer David Hinshaw and I, accompanied by my wife, Jackie, hired Vernadore to take us on a river expedition so we could photograph the waters, the wildlife, and the habitat, so important to this region of the Palmetto State and its inhabitants, including the Waccamaw Indian People.
Working with Chief Harold "Buster" Hatcher and his wife, Susan, we intend to produce a documentary film about these indigenous people, probably the state's original inhabitants. Some of the footage from yesterday's shoot will be used in that production, as well as in a brief promotional video to be completed soon.
As I have written here before, the Waccamaws have been seeking federal government recognition as an official Indian tribe. That objective has not yet been achieved due to nearly impossible requirements imposed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, even though the State of South Carolina has provided such recognition.
Federal designation as an official Indian tribe is needed so the Waccamaws can gain possession of the remains of many of their ancestors whose bones were uncovered during construction and escalation projects in the state, and are now housed in crates and boxes in several museums within the state.
"We simply want fair treatment for our people, our ancestors, and the right to bury our own," explained Chief Hatcher. "These remains deserve to be properly laid to rest."
Watch Not Fake News for updates as this video project progresses.