Monday, June 1, 2009
Swanton Happenings of Aug 1995, Nov. 1995, Splinter Groups & Disenfranchisement by "Chief" Homer St. Francis
Somtime in August 1995 I traveled by Greyhound Buslines back to Port Angeles, Washington to visit my 2nd adoptive family, the Leckie's, my biological birth twin brother, and various Native friends, Lower Elwha NS'Klallam and Anishnabe Ojibway Indian folks. Later that month of August or early in September I returned to the State of New Hampshire. It was at some point thereafter of my return to the State that I learned of Carleen Pelletier, friend of Thomas Obomsawin and Daisy Goodman (who may have legally married by that time, though I am not sure if they ever did marry) was living in Whitefield, Coos County, New Hampshire in a small house rented by an elderly couple. She was moving out and I decided that, if possible, I would rent the place, of which I did. Previously in 1994, Homer St. Francis Sr. was diagnosed with cancer, which was life-threatening, but curable. Alledgedly, because of this diagnosis, "Chief" Homer St. Francis Sr. made his daughter April St. Francis - Rushlow "Acting Chief" of the "group". Which for all intents and purposes kept the political control and power in one particular family, the St. Francis's. Then, their "Band Tribal Constitution" was changed again, to keep the "Chief" position within their "group" (within the Homer St. Francis' family). Talk about "Job Security" eh. Indeed there was some "talk" that Carol Nepton, Federal Acknowledgement Officer (Carol also worked for the ARP, Abenaki Research Project) for the "Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi" and their "Tribal Lawyer" Mark Nestor, had confidential "talks" with Homer St. Francis Sr. around November 05, 1995 and which resulted in a ratification on February 25th, 1996. Please also read pages 170 and 171 of Mr. Frederick Matthew Wiseman's book entitled "The Voice of the Dawn, an Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation" published by University Press of New England Hanover and London.
Now on page 172 of this book by Frederick Matthew Wiseman, he states that "At the Abenaki Heritage Celebration in May 1996 (more likely this meeting happened on August 20th, 1994 in Evansville, Vermont on "Clan of the Hawk Chief" Ralph Swett's property), a group of Abenkai political leaders met and determined that "Chief" Homer St. Francis should be inducted as Grand Chief. Again, to my thinking and conclusions, this whole event was a "set up" because if you look at the date of the documentation regarding Eagle Feathers which "Grand Chief" Homer St. Francis and "Tribal Judge" Michael Delaney signed along with Doris Minckler and Robert Wells, it is obvious that Homer St. Francis was signing documents as "Grand Chief" thirteen (13) months before the May 1996 Memorial Day Weekend Abenaki Heritage Celebration! Walter Watso, as I recall while at the Littleton, N.H. Pow-wow event created and promoted by Nancy (nee: Millette) Cruger, even claimed to being "Grand Chief of the Abenaki"!
By the way, another excellent book to read, is entitled "Playing Indian" by Philip J. Deloria. When I read the book, I could help but it was speaking about what has been going on in both Vermont and New Hampshire, etc., by these people inventing themselves into and proclaiming to being Abenaki.
It's a great book and I highly recommend people really sit down, and seriously read this book several times, and compare what it speaks about, to the reality of what has been happening in New England here.
Because of the Vermont Supreme Court ruling against (overturning) Judge Joseph Wolchik's August 1989 Decision which was pro-Homer St. Francis' "group", Homer St. Francis went against his very own previous declarations, and soon he began the process (like Blakie Lampman before him) to seek Federal BIA Recognition. Thus, in a very short time, the people working in ARP (Abenaki Research Project/ in the Back Barn "Archive's) realized that many people who were given "membership cards" into the St. Francis/Sokoki "group" which were signed by either "Tribal Judge" Michael Delaney himself, or "Chief" Homer St. Francis, did not have their genealogical paperwork in compliance within the standards of the Federal BIA Recognition process. Alot of people, did not agree with Homer's decision "to go the BIA route". Those that disagreed with "Grand Chief Homer" were "removed" "politically pushed or shoved" out and/ or left the "group". Some, like Connie Brow (niece of "Chief" Homer St. Francis) and David "Dave" Gilman, a former coordinator of Missisquoi Riverkeepers; Ina Delaney and John Lawyer, formerly on the Abenaki Self Help board of directors; and Michael "Mike" Delaney, the former "Tribal Judge" were all ousted. These persons were "kicked out" by "Chief" Homer St. Francis Sr. "group in the month of October of 1995, when Homer sought to "go after Federal Recognition". So, the "kicked out" and disenfranchised former
membership card holder's (kinda reminds me of what happened in November 1987 and into 1988 read page 110 of January 1991 Yankee Magazine article) decided to create a NEW group, calling themselves "The Traditional Abenakis of Mazipskwik and Related Bands". I attended one of their "meetings with Thomas Obomsawin and Daisy Goodman who were also "removed" out of Homer's "group". Dee Brightstar I think was also "booted out".
They ought to have fixed the problem honestly said.....Homer St. Francis Sr.,, the dictator "Grand Chief" himself, to my thinking. But, he was an effectively good intimidator, much like Whitey Bulger was, guns and all! Reading page 181 of Frederick Matthew Wiseman's book "The Voice of the Dawn" speaks of a "group" created by Tom Obomsawin over in North Stratford, New Hampshire, that I, personally was temporarily a part of.
By November 06th, 1995 I too, had recieved a "Form Letter" from Carol Nepton, indicating that I did not have anything (evidence) in my file there in Swanton's ARP (Archives) that would link me as being an Abenaki descendant from any region or Indian from the Missisquoi Region. These hired Certified Genealogists, were requesting the required detailed documentation that they needed to show I was an Abenaki descendant from N'dakinna or Indian from the Missisquoi (Swanton, Vermont geographical area). Subsequently I drove over to High Street in St. Albans, Vermont and I visited with Jesse Bowman Bruchac and after talking with him, I decided to go up to Swanton, Vermont while he was in attendance to "a meeting" they all were having up there in the old Railroad depot, and I demanded any and all of my file's contents be immediately returned to me by this "group" . I had to sign a piece of paper after having to "explain" why I wanted my genealogical records returned to me, before they would give me the contents of such file(s). I got less than 1/4rd of what I had submitted and right there I inquired about the missing material record photocopies (I never gave them original documents, thankfully said) and I was told, the documents that I was speaking of having submitted for the file, never made it into the file. So again, to my thinking, their right hand didn't know what their left hand was doing, regarding (very likely) alot of people's submitted genealogical records!
Also take notice that "Chief" Homer St. Francis Sr. as of November 07, 1994 (not 1995 or even 1996) was being referred to as "Grand Chief" Homer St. Francis. This was right in the November 1994 issue "Newsletter of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi".
As Frederick Matthew Wiseman in his book "The Voice of the Dawn" on page 172 states and I quote, "In an unprecedented move, the "chief" of the St. Francis-Sokoki Band, which never acknowledged (nor respected) the authority of any group but his own, accepted the title of rank "Grand Chief of the Abenaki" from these "external" leaders (see August 20, 1994 Happenings regarding Unity of Councils Agreement which was signed in Evansville, Vermont). Whereas Homer St. Francis had previously changed his group's "Band/Tribal Constitution" (either in after Nov. 1987 or in 1988) in order to make himself "Chief-for-life" (read page 110 right column, of the January 1991 Yankee Magazine), he dropped that "title" Chief- for-life, at-some-point in time, and subsequently he began using "Grand Chief Homer St. Francis" on documents of which he would put his signature, or when speaking to the media. There's nothing like "playing Indian", being self-serving and self-promoting in securing job security, to my thinking and conclusions of this "business" !!!!