Waccamaw Legacy: Contemporary Indians Fight for Survival sheds light on North Carolina Indians by tracing the story of the now state-recognized Waccamaw Siouan tribe from its beginnings in the Southeastern United States, through their first contacts with Europeans, and into the 21st century, detailing the struggles these Indians have endured over time. We see how the Waccamaw took hold of popular theories about Indian tribes like the Croatan of the Lost Colony and the Cherokee as they struggled to preserve their heritage and to establish their identity. Patricia Lerch was hired by the Waccamaw in 1981 to perform the research needed to file for recognition under the Bureau of Indian Affairs Federal Acknowledgement Program of 1978. The Waccamaw began to organise powwows in 1970 to represent publicly their Indian heritage and survival and to spread awareness of their fight for cultural preservation and independence. Lerch found herself understanding that the powwows, in addition to affirming identity, revealed important truths about the history of the Waccamaw and the ways they communicate and coexist.
Waccamaw Legacy outlines Lerch's experience as she played a vital role in the Waccamaw Siouan's continuing fight for recognition and acceptance in contemporary society and culture.