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
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.