Catawba Indian Nation, South Carolina

Staff Reports
11/27/01

South Carolina's American Indians, the region's first inhabitants, have struggled to maintain their culture in a changing state. Cheryl Sanders, Catawba, fears they will never be truly accepted by others. "They've told us to go home because they think we're Mexican. We tell them, 'We are home. This is our land. You need to go back and check your history." Sanders is not sure why American Indians have been forgotten. But when Sanders, 43, a potter, and her husband go to elementary schools to share their tribal traditions, they are often asked by students if they are real Indians. "They think we're all dead," Sanders said. In South Carolina, still home to several tribal groups, only the Catawba are federally recognized. A bill to recognize several other tribes was introduced in the General Assembly the past two years but stalled in committee. Sanders said that is because the voices of American Indians often are not heard by the leaders of South Carolina. "It has always been about black and white."

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