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The Waccamaw's Right to Bury Their Own

A new documentary film to help in the long-standing battle by the Waccamaw Indian People for the right to give proper burial to the remains of their ancestors is now being produced and you can help through a new Go Fund Me campaign.

The 550 members of South Carolina’s Waccamaw Indian People for years have fought for the right to bury more than 600 ancestors, but the federal government continues to stand in the way. In “A Right to Bury Their Own,”the viewer will learn the story of the Palmetto State’s original inhabitants, and the difficult and seemingly discriminatory roadblocks they are trying to overcome.

The issues to be disclosed in the film:

  • Most of the Indians’ ancestral remains have been unearthed at construction sites and roadbuilding projects.

  • The Waccamaws surmise that many of these remains are their ancestors and desire to inter them in a respectable and sustainable manner.

  • Chief Harold D. "Buster" Hatcher explains that those remains now are stored in museums; not on display, but stuffed unceremoniously into boxes and warehoused.

  • Before the Waccamaws can properly bury their ancestors, they must be officially recognized as a tribe by the federal government.

  • Even though the State of South Carolina has recognized the tribe, the federal requirements are virtually impossible to meet.

  • The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) require the Waccamaws to show unbroken lineage from the first ancient Indian until today, a virtual impossibility since no records were kept by early Indians.

  • Without this recognition, the ancestral remains are considered federal property and will not be released to the Tribe for burial.

  • The federal government will not sanction this process because the Waccamaws have not yet met the burden of proof required by the BIA for federal recognition.

  • Like most indigenous native Americans the Waccamaws had no written language, much less documentation of births, marriages and deaths.

  • It is reasonable to believe that since the bones, in all probability, are native Waccamaw people as they were removed from lands occupied historically by the Waccamaws, that they predate the arrival of Europeans, and there are no other known or suspected inhabitants of the area other than Waccamaws. Thus, they deserve a proper burial with their kin.

  • Contact with SC Senators Graham and Scott, congressman Rice and federal bureaucrats, requesting help, has yielded no assistance or results.

The documentary will reveal the determined, but so far unsuccessful, efforts by the Waccamaws to obtain federal recognition, and and why the U.S. government has rejected this simple request even though the State of South Carolina officially recognized the Waccamaws over 13 years ago.

The film will explore the history and contributions of this peace-loving people, their service to our nation, their care for the land and our environment, the sacred rites of burial, why honoring indigenous Americans’ rites should be both permitted and honored, and what all of this means to the descendants of South Carolina’s first inhabitants.

I am proud to be collaborating with long-time videographer and producer David Hinshaw on this important project, which is being produced under the auspices of the Waccamaw Indian People. All donations are greatly appreciated and tax deductible. To support the Go Fund Me campaign, please click here.

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