First Native American
wedding ceremony since
the 1800s performed at
PAIA Tribal Grounds
Buster and Susan copy
By Libby C. Rhodes
Staff Writer
In an authentic Native American ceremony,Susan Hayes
and Harold D Hatcher, both of Conway, were united in marriage
on June 14th at a pow wow held by the Piedmont American
Indian Association (PAIA) of the Lower Eastern Cherokee
Nation of South Carolina located at 3688 Warrior Creek
Church Road in Gray Court SC 29645.
After serving as chief of the Waccamaw Tribe in
Horry County for 15 years, Hatcher retired in 2007.
His wife is currently serving as the acting chief.
History was made at this event. This was the first time
since the 1800s that a chief or spiritual person of a recognized
Indian entity in the state was allowed to perform a wedding
ceremony and sign a marriage license. Chief Norris of the PAIA
performed the ceremony which was made possible because
of House Bill H3798 that was introduced by House member
Garry Smith, District 27 in Greenville County. The bill was passed
by both the House and Senate. It is truly an honor for me to perform
the ceremony", said Norris. 'Chief Hatcher, Rep. Smith, Senator David Thomas
and I, along with others, worked on this bill for some time.
Rep. Smith was the author of the bill that made this day and wedding a reality.
We appreciate his support and were pleased that he was present
to share this history-making event with us. Smith signed the marriage license
along with Norris. We were the first Indian Entity in South Carolina to
perform a ceremony under the new law", said Mary Louise Worthy
vice chief PAIA. "The Bill was passed only a few weeks ago". According to
Worthy, Michael and Melinda Matthews, members of the PAIA also renewed
their wedding vows at the pow wow. The PAIA holds an annual pow wow
and chiefs and other Indian entities are invited to attend as well
as interested citizens. In the near future we will be attending
another wedding ceremony at the Waccamaw pow wow", said Norris. It is turly
an experience to witness our people getting married in the old way".