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8th Native American Tribe Recognized by State of South Carolina

Dec 2, 2013

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COLUMBIA, SC - December 2, 2013 - The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs Board of Commissioners officially granted State Recognition to the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians making them South Carolina’s 8th State Recognized Tribe on Friday, November 22, 2013.

Members of the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians, supporters, and the public attending the SC Commission for Minority Affairs Board meeting witness history when the Board voted to officially recognized the Tribe.

The Tribe submitted their approximately 1500 page petition in September 2012 to the SC Commission for Minority Affairs after several attempts over the last few years. The petition was reviewed by the State Recognition Committee and was given a favorable report by the Committee in December 2012. The report was reviewed by the Board of Commissioners of the SC Commission for Minority Affairs and accepted in August 2013. The SC Commission for Minority Affairs Native American Affairs staff conducted a site visit and verification of enrolled members culminating in a second report to the Board of Commissioners. Based upon the two favorable reports, the Board voted to grant “Tribal” status to the Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians on behalf of the State of South Carolina.

The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians has a document history dating back to first contact with colonial settlers sharing history with well know Tribes like the Catawba Indian Nation and Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians has been documented as “Turk” over the years, but in the 1970’s began to identify themselves as Native American Indian. Their history has been hidden for many years to outsiders, but has been well documented as Native American Indian starting in the 1700’s when they were forced to live with the Catawba Indian Nation during colonial rule. Throughout the centuries, they have remained a core community hiding traditions and customs within daily community life and hiding their identities as Indian by identifying themselves as “Turks”. In their petition, they document their Native American Ancestors through historical records like the Census and outline the history in their community for over 100 continuous years until modern day.

Since 2005, the State of South Carolina has officially recognized Native American entities through the SC Commission for Minority Affairs. There are currently one Federally Recognized tribe; eight State Recognized tribes; five State Recognized groups; and two State Recognized special interest organizations. There are large numbers of urban Indian and non-recognized Indian people in South Carolina as well. There are approximately 43,000+ Native American Indian people living in South Carolina according to the 2010 Census Data.

The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs-Native American Affairs Initiative serves as the State’s official Native American Affairs agency working with Native American Indians to address issues of poverty and socio-economic deprivation through collaboration with government and private partners. 


Above Photo: Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Council Members and SC Commission for Minority Affairs-Native American Affairs Coordinator


Above Photo: Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Council and Members along with SC Commission for Minority Affairs Board, Staff and Other Native American Leaders