Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe breaks ground on community center


Ground breaking ceremonies for a new Robert Davidson Community Center at 113 Tee Pee Lane, Ridgeville, S.C. were held on Saturday, May 11 at 11:00 a.m. The center is named after the late Robert Davidson, Chief of the The Edisto Natchez-Kusso Tribe from 1969-1982. He led the tribe to state recognition as indigenous Native Americans in 1972. He was also instrumental in getting Native American children integrated into the public school system.

The tribe has received over $650,000 ear marked for the building project from Federal, state, and local funds. Rev. Dr. John Glenn Creel donated time and equipment to demolish the original Community Center on the property to begin site preparation. The previous building was used by the tribe as office headquarters and for community services but was demolished due to structural problems with the foundation.

Former Chief Andy Spell, began coordinating efforts with the Dorchester County Council to obtain funds toward building a new center over five years ago. Chief Spell and Vice-Chief Lee Creel received $150,000 from S.C. State Senator John W. Matthews, Jr. and S.C. House of Representatives Patsy Knight. Many delays were experienced during the planning and permitting periods and due to Covid.

In October 2023, Chief John Glenn Creel was presented a check earmarked for the project for $250,000 by S.C. Senator Vernon Stephens, District 39 and S.C. House Representative Joe Jefferson, District 39 during the annual Home Coming. State Senator Sandy Senn, District 41 working with S.C. Senator Margie Bright Matthews, District 45, also promised $250,000. S.C. House member, Gilda Cobb-Hunter, House District 95 for Dorchester and Orangeburg Counties has also been instrumental in obtaining funding.

“Work on The Robert Davidson Building has been steadily progressing due to all the collaborative support we have been receiving from our legislative delegates and the Dorchester County Council, especially chairman Jason Ward and Ms. Julia Byars,” said Chief John Glenn Creel. “We hope all these supporters will come to our groundbreaking.”

Plans were completed by Johnson, Laschober, & Associates (JLA). Mitchell Construction will be completing construction on the building.

The new center will honor the legacy of leadership and educational achievement of Chief Robert Davidson by providing new office space for the tribal governing body as well as room to expand cultural and historical programs for the tribe. Providing public computer and internet access in the community will enhance educational and employment opportunities for both adults and children. Having access to historical and archival records of the tribe will assist community members in establishing individual genealogies necessary for the tribe to acquire Federal recognition.

Chief John Glenn Creel said “We hope the Robert Davidson Center will be completed in time for our Home Coming this fall.”