November 01, 2006

"Cool to be an Indian"

Tribes seek more than words

Recognition hasn't led to fundingSouth Carolina for centuries acted as if it had no native tribes. The state Legislature finally set up requirements for tribal recognition in 2003, in legislation that clearly stated recognition brought no state funding for tribes. The S.C. Commission for Minority Affairs was given oversight over Native American issues and set up rigorous standards to determine the authenticity of a tribe’s heritage.

In the past two years, the state has recognized five Native American tribes, three groups and one special interest organization.

“All of a sudden, you would never have any idea how many people called from all over the country,” said Chavis, whose tribe, Beaver Creek Indians, gained recognition in 2006. “Never before has it been so cool to be an Indian in South Carolina.”


Rob said...

Are you seriously comparing a South Carolina tribe like the Catawbas with the Mashantucket Pequots? The Catawbas' documented history goes back to the 1560s. That record is longer than that of almost any Plains tribe, including the Kiowa.

The Catawba case seems instructive. The tribe's dissolution was a bad political choice, not some inexorable working of fate. Here are the facts:

Although recognized by South Carolina, the Catawba did not receive federal recognition until 1941. In 1959 they petitioned Congress to terminate their tribal status, and tribal landholdings were distributed among the membership during 1962. The final tribal role call of that year gave a population of a little over 600. After termination, many Catawba emigrated to the Choctaw in southeast Oklahoma. After a change of heart in 1973, the Catawba tribal council was reorganized and recognized by the state of South Carolina. During 1994, the Catawba regained federal recognition after a lengthy court battle.

Rob said...

Would you say the Catawbas are a "real" tribe? If not, when did they go from being real to being unreal? If you can, give us the exact year when this happened. Or do you think they were never real despite their long documented history?