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For week ended March 26, 2000 Posted 24 Feb 2001
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
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Sent on Mormon-News: 21Mar00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Mormon Members Of Indian Tribe Denied Tribe Membership
(Western Catawbas denied place on tribal roll)
Columbia SC The State 20Mar00 D4

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA -- The descendants of five families who left the Catawba Indian reservation in South Carolina in the 1880s after joining the LDS Church have been denied a place on the Catawba tribal roll, which determines who is eligible for shares of an $8 million federal land claim settlement. The decision also affects who will be recognized as future members.

"We will always be Catawba Indians whether or not that is recognized by an agency," said New Mexico lawyer Cynthia Walsh, who offered to waive her right to any settlement money. "We want the status recognition gives us -- that we are Catawba." The Western Catawbas started receiving rejection letters after a March 13 tribal meeting, with only the explanation that "the applicant has failed to produce sufficient evidence."

Tribe chief Gilbert Blue says that the current list is only for the distribution of settlement funds, and that the tribe will consider membership to some Western Catawbas after the funds have been distributed. He said that extending the share of the distribution to the Western Catawbas would not be fair to the other tribe members.

Walsh says she had been trying to get her family recognized as tribe members since 1994, and other Western Catawbas have been seeking recognition for decades.


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