Horry County, S.C. (WPDE) — "No question, he's dedicated to service," said Rick Elliott.
Rick Elliott says he nominated Waccamaw Indian Chief Harold 'Buster' Hatcher for a number of reasons.
"He's done so much for the American Indian people. He is a great American. He's a proud solider, having served in the 82nd Airborne Division," said Elliott.
The Army vet and purple heart recipient is proud of his heritage, except maybe his name.
"Why would two Indians name a kid Harold? That don't make no sense to me! I'd rather have the name Buster. I sound like a clown, but, I like it," said Chief Hatcher, with a laugh.
Besides his sense of humor, Chief Hatcher has made a name for himself when it comes to recognizing the Waccamaw Indian tribe.
"He has worked very hard to make sure that that heritage is not left in thepast," said Elliott.
"The Waccamaw were here pre-history," said Chief Hatcher.
Every year, the tribe of more than 400 gathers for a Pau Wau on land Hatcher helped acquire in Aynor, near an orignal Waccamaw settlement.
In 2005, it was the first tribe to be legally recognized by the state of South Carolina.
It opened the door for Indian artisans to legally sell their crafts.
"The artists in our tribe can do that now," said Susan Hayes Hatcher.
His wife, Susan, says she is proud to be by his side.
Chief Hatcher was instrumental in pushing for the 2008 state law that allows Indian chiefs to perform marriage ceremonies.
"We were the first, the first in history, to be married by an Indian chief, legally, in the state of South Carolina," said Chief Hatcher.
"I do love him. I couldn't do without him," said Susan.
"If you lose the Indian heritage in this country, you only have 250 years of heritage here. Think about it," said Chief Hatcher.
Chief Harold Hatcher is our latest Jefferson Award winner.
To nominate someone for the Jefferson Award, click here.