news-article - Coastal Carolina University
In This Section

CCU’s Waccamaw Indian People exhibit receives national award

June 21, 2022

Coastal Carolina University students and faculty along with the Waccamaw Indian People and the Horry County Museum recently received the American Association for State and Local History’s (AASLH) 2022 Award of Excellence for their exhibit titled “Waccamaw Indian People: Past, Present, Future.” A letter from the association to Katie Clary, Ph.D., CCU assistant professor of history, who was part of the project team, stated, “The AASLH Leadership in History Awards is the nation’s most prestigious competition for recognition of achievement in state and local history. We congratulate you for the work that has brought this honor.”

The Waccamaw Indian People, whose traditional lands include Horry County, S.C., are a state-recognized tribe with cultural traditions that reflect a unique past. The project entailed the creation of an exhibit and educational material that highlight the Waccamaw Indian People’s culture and history. CCU students and faculty members, in partnership with the Horry County Museum and the Waccamaw Indian People, used oral histories, historical archives, photographs, personal belongings, and collections to build an exhibit at the museum that introduced the rich and diverse Native American history and culture of Horry County through community-driven interpretive text and interactive displays.

This year, AASLH conferred 53 national awards honoring people, projects, exhibits, and publications. The winners represent the best in the field and provide leadership for the future of state and local history.

“I’m so proud of our students for their hard work on this project,” Clary said. “It wouldn’t have been possible without the Waccamaw Indian People and the tribal members who took the time to meet and talk with us and share their lives with us. We can never thank them enough. I also want to thank the organizations who helped to fund this project: S.C. Humanities and the Register of Professional Archaeologists.”

Chief Harold Hatcher, who has been led the Waccamaw Indian People since the tribe’s founding in 1992, expressed his gratitude for the award: “After years of being invisible in our own neighboring communities, CCU’s work has begun to open the eyes of our friends and neighbors. Today, they are beginning to see us as who we are and who we have always been. Waccamaw is surfacing as the proud people we are, not the ghost of Waccamaw past.”

Waccamaw Indian People Vice Chief Cheryl M. Cail echoed Hatcher’s sentiments.

“When we began working with Dr. Dillian, Dr. Clary, and the CCU students on this project, it was hard to envision what it would look like as a finished exhibit,” Cail said. “The idea was to be able to share our tribal history in a meaningful way. It became so much more, not only engaging with our past, but identifying who we are today, and who we hope to be in the future. I cannot thank enough all who gave of their time and resources.”

The AASLH awards program was initiated in 1945 to establish and encourage standards of excellence in the collection, preservation, and interpretation of state and local history throughout the United States. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards not only honor significant achievement in the field of state and local history, but also bring public recognition of the opportunities for small and large organizations, institutions, and programs to make contributions in this arena.