HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WPDE) — The second Monday in October is a federal holiday known as Columbus Day, but it's also a day to remember Indigenous communities.
Waccamaw Indian Tribe Chief Hatcher said he wants to help create change for himself and his people.
He said that change starts with educating the public on the real history of South Carolina and the Waccamaw people.
READ MORE: Invitation to learn about Hispanic Heritage through movies and discussions at CCU
Indigenous Peoples' Day was first proposed in 1977, but the U.S. didn't celebrate it until 2021 when the proclamation was signed by President Joe Biden.
Chief Hatcher said Indigenous Peoples' Day is an opportunity to bring awareness to South Carolinians that the Waccamaw people are still, and always have been, people of the state and of the country.
“Indian people especially in South Carolina, I don’t know about the other states. We call ourselves invisible. The textbooks talk about us in the past tense as if we’re all dead, it’s very seldom. The name Waccamaw is used by everybody in this area, but we are the Waccamaw; we are the Waccamaw people and people need to know that we’re still here," he said.
Chief Hatcher said the history of the Waccamaw Indian Tribe wasn't recorded until around the 1600s, but he said they were in the area much earlier.
“People don’t look at us as present-day people. They look at us too as warning something and that’s not true either. We pay our taxes like everybody else, we abide by the laws like everybody else, and it’s not right for people to say that my grandparents, my ancient uncles and aunts did nothing to promote this country," he said.
READ MORE: Animal shelters across the Lowcountry asking for help; overcrowding reaches breaking point
He said he will continue to fight for the honor and recognition him and his ancestors deserve after centuries of oppression.
“The state recognizes nine state-recognized Indian tribes, but they don’t mention any of them but one in the textbooks. So, it doesn’t make sense in a South Carolina history class, or a social studies class to say we’ve got nine state-recognized tribes and we don’t even say who they are," he said.
A bill to celebrate the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples' day was introduced in South Carolina, but never passed.
Right now in South Carolina, there's only one federally recognized tribe according to the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs- and that's the Catawba Indian Nation.
Chief Hatcher said he wants to invite everyone their annual Pauwau on Nov. 5 and Nov. 6 on their tribal grounds in Aynor, which is a tradition dating back almost 30 years.