Visitor count as of 6/23/2017 8:30 AM  1216 visitors.

Welcome to The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians' website.

     The website of the ONLY American Indian group in Sumter County that is recognized as such by the state of South Carolina. 

   As promised, Tribal Council positions were voted on and awarded based on the nominations submitted in September and by acclamation of the members of the Tribe that were able to attend the General Membership meeting on December 9, 2017. 

  For years, Chief Ralph has been the recognized leader of our Tribe.  Our Tribe would not be where it is today without his leadership, dedication and knowledge.  In honor of his selfless efforts, it is the will of the Tribe that he will always carry the title of Chief. 

   With that being said, the burdens of leading and representing the Tribe should be borne by someone to whom those burdens are more easily shouldered.  With an eye to the future, George Truesdale has been granted  the title of Chief and will be known as Chief George Truesdale of The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians.  Please support and encourage him as he represents and leads our Tribe.

   Other positions voted on and approved by acclamation were:

Vice Chief:  Francis Benenhaley

Secretary:  Pam Benenhaley Holland

Karen Hudson:  Tribal Council

Tammy Stevens:  Tribal Council

Courtney Tice:  Tribal Council

Chuck Scott:  Tribal Council (Acting Treasurer)

Mike Healan:  Tribal Council

Samantha Benenhaley Geddings:  Tribal Council

Lawrence Carrigan:  Tribal Council


  If you have noticed that previously posted stories have been removed, fear not.  The texts of the stories have been moved to the ARCHIVES page of the site.  Pending Tribal Council approval, the tentative plan is to create a link to our photo inventory and include it on that page as well. 

       I ask that anyone with information or news that needs to be communicated to the membership, contact me at     

​                   You Are Invited!​    

     The Winter General Membershipmeeting ​is scheduled for 2 PM on March 3rd, 2018 at the Sumter County Library located on Harvin Street.  During this meeting, nominations for a new Treasurer will be accepted. Hopefully, the meeting place and activity details about the Spring General Membership meeting will be decided and an overview of the class-action lawsuit concerning the opioid situation facing American Indian groups in South Carolina will be provided. 

​     February Council Meeting topics discussed included:

     Chuck Scott volunteered and was appointed acting Treasurer until the vote in June.

     Ansley Ray was appointed as the Tribe's Point of Contact concerning the Opioid litigation.

     Ideas to improve attendance at the General Membership meetings were discussed.  Offering door prizes or providing lunch were ideas that came up but the effectiveness of either was doubted so neither idea was embraced.

     It was agreed that the first fundraiser for 2018 would be a raffle for a ​Weber Spirit E-210 grill​.  Tickets will be $5 and available for purchase on March 5th.   Contact a council member for details.


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A People Once Lost,
But Now Found

From the Administrator:  Updated on February 10, 2018  

The Sumter Tribe of Cheraw Indians

Pony Hill tells us that Hodalee Sewell's new book,  “Eyes on the Prize in the Native South: The Struggle  for Federal Recognition in the 21st Century” is tentatively scheduled to be available after May 1st  2018.  The work will address a major issue that is relevant to any state recognized tribe and its members.
  As of 2018 the United States federal authorities have a special government to  government relationship with the 567 federally acknowledged  Indian tribes. These tribal governments and that  relationship have long been fundamental to the American Indian identity for more than two centuries. The  constitution of the United States grants Congress the right  to interact with tribes. The Supreme Court of the United  States in United States v. Sandoval, 231 U.S. 28 (1913)  revealed the seriousness of the relationship when it stated, "it is not... that Congress may bring  a community or body of people within range of this power by arbitrarily calling them an Indian tribe, but only that in  respect of distinctly Indian communities the questions  whether, to what extent, and for what time they shall be recognized and dealt with as  dependent tribes". Federal tribal acknowledgement  grants to Native American nations the right to certain  benefits, and the process is largely controlled by the  Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), though petitioning tribes can go through congress to secure  acknowledgement as well.  To determine which
 petitioning groups seeking acknowledgment were appropriate for such status during the 1970’s federal government authorities began to work to address the need for consistent  established procedures and criteria for acknowledgement   Adding impetus for such, several non-federally acknowledged  tribes encountered difficulties in bringing land claims for  redress. One such case was United States v. Washington  (1974), which affirmed the fishing treaty rights of tribal  groups in Washington State,  and which led to other groups asserting that the federal  government acknowledge their claims to aboriginal titles.  These events led to the Indian Self-Determination and  Education Assistance Act of 1975. This important federal  legislation legitimized tribal  governments by at least in part restoring aspects of Indian self-determination and governance which had in the past been  ignored or suppressed.  The Bureau of Indian  Affairs in 1978 established a process of rules with seven  core criteria that groups who sought to petition had to meet  in order to secure federal tribal acknowledgment. Four of  the criteria have repeatedly been difficult  for many petitioners to document, including identity as a long-standing historical community, outside identification  as Indians, continuity of political authority, and descent from a historical tribe. Petitioners seeking acknowledgment  must submit extensive and expensive petitions to the BIA's Office of Federal Acknowledgment, and the process can take years, even  decades. The Shinnecock Indian Nation formally petitioned for recognition in 1978 and was recognized 32 years later,  in 2010. At a Senate Committee  on Indian Affairs hearing, witnesses testified that the  process was "broken, long, expensive, burdensome,  intrusive, unfair, arbitrary and capricious, less than  transparent, unpredictable, and subject to undue political  influence and manipulation." Recent legislation have  led to significant changes to the acknowledgement process in  response to a growing wave of concern as to the dysfunction  and length of time the process takes by many agencies and  petitioners. The backlog of petitioners had been greatly reduced and those who were longest in the  process, over a dozen tribes, have been receiving expedited  decisions. Key components of the seven criteria required for  recognition relate to petitioners ties to historic tribes, a requirement which  many tribes of the south have found challenging. The  process though reformed.  In the eyes of some still does not  address the legacy of the historic experiences of colonial  struggle, social marginalization, Jim Crow segregation,  economic obstacles and climate change, forces continuing to shape the struggle for  self-determination. This is the story of the Virginia’s  “first contact” tribes, who recently gained federal  acknowledgment, and of the Pointe-au-Chien Indians of  Louisiana, and the Lumbee Tribe of Cheraw  Indians whose tribal communities are still striving to  secure it.

 About the author:  Hodalee “Christopher” Scott Sewell (Sumter Cheraw/Creek) is a counselor in the  Florida State Department of Corrections, and a researcher  and writer on race, culture, and identity in Native America,  especially the historically non-federally  recognized tribal groups. He has a B.S. in Sociology and an  M.B.A., and has chaired the Apalachicola River Community of  Indians Annual Conference for 22 years and is a member of  the Wakokiye Tallassee Ceremonial Ground of the Muscogee  (Creek) Nation.
Contact  him at
More information on the Apalachicola River Community of  Indians at he lives in north Florida  and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma.

Books by H.C. Scott Sewell  (Available on Amazon, B&N, etc.)

The Indians of North Florida: From Carolina to Florida, the  Story of the Survival of a Distinct American Indian  Community (2011 with S. Pony HIll) in the early1800s,  dozens of families of Catawbas, Sumter Cheraw, and  Lumbee’s,  fled war and oppression in the Carolinas and migrated to  Florida, just as native Apalachicola Creeks were migrating  away. Being neither Black nor White, the Cheraw descendants  were persecuted by the harsh “racial” dichotomy of the  Jim Crow era and almost forgot their proud heritage. Today they have rediscovered their  past. This is their story.

Belles of the Creek Nation (2015)  Belles of The Creek Nation  is an innovative> and modern perspective investigating the  problematic linkages between preservation of cultural  heritage, maintaining cultural diversity, defining and establishing cultural citizenship, and ancient tribal 
rite of passage.

The Cherokee Paradox: Unexpected Ancestry at the Crossroads  of Identity and Genetics (2016)  Genetics has brought to  light in stunning detail the origins, continual migrations,  and intermixture of humanity as how our ancestors spread across the planet. The complexity of this story has  taken many by surprise.

Indians of Alabama: Guide to the Indian Tribes of the  Yellowhammer State (2016) Unknown too many outside of their  small communities, there are still many Alabamians who  identify as Native Americans.

We Will Always Be Here: Native Peoples on Living and  Thriving in the South (Anthology, 2016) The history of  Native Americans in the U.S. South is a turbulent one, rife  with conflict and inequality.

Redbone Chronicles (Anthology, 2016) The history, genealogy  and origins of the people known as Redbone, the Redbone  Heritage Foundation began publishing a collection of  conference presentations, articles and essays and  genealogies in the Redbone Chronicles, edited by Don C.
Marler and Gary  "Mishiho" Gabehart.

The Red Road: A Cheraw Language Primer (2017, with S. Pony Hill)

The One Drop (2017)

 A Type of People: the Indians of Holmes County Florida  (2017, with S. Pony Hill)  Hodalee Scott  Sewell

Career Development Specialist Gulf Correctional Institute  (850) 639-7435

Our Vision: "Inspiring success by transforming one life at a time."

Thanks to Pony Hill for passing along the news of the release date of another H. C. Sewell book whose subject and information could prove helpful to any American Indian tribe member.​​