Criterion 83.7(a) requires that the petitioner has been identified as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900.
Summary of the Proposed Finding
The PF concluded that the evidence in the record was insufficient to demonstrate by a reasonable likelihood that external observers had identified the SSA petitioner as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis since 1900. Consequently, the petitioner did not meet criterion 83.7(a).
More specifically, the PF found that for the period from 1900 to 1975, no evidence in the record provided an external identification of either the petitioning group or a group of the petitioner's ancestors as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis.
From 1976 afterward since their VT State-Sanctioned Incorporation Status, however, the PF found sufficient evidence that external observers identified the petitioning group as an American Indian entity. (See the Abenaki PF 2005, 22-43, for a complete description of these identifications.)
The task for the petitioner during the comment period, therefore, was to submit evidence of external observers identifying the petitioner or an antecedent group as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis from 1900 to 1975.
Summary of the Comments on the Proposed Finding
The Department received three sets of comments on the PF's conclusions that apply to criterion 83.7(a). One set of comments came from the petitioner as part of its August 14, 2006, submission. In its cover letter, the petitioner states that it was "sending a [DVD] disk with a full interview with Alice Roy." This DVD is entitled "Against the Darkness." 5. On the same DVD is a second interview, an interview with Dr. James Petersen, that addresses the PF's conclusions in a way similar to the Roy interview. Although the petitioner did not directly instruct the Department to interpret it as a comment, the Department examined both the Petersen interview and the Roy interview under criterion 83.7(a) and the other criteria.
A second set of comments came from Lester M. Lampman and several individuals associated with the petitioning group. The Department received these comments on May 17, 2006. These comments included a 6-page letter that discussed some of the senders' concerns with the PF and other issues, as well as a photograph, a photocopy of a photograph, and 11 pages of documents to supplement their comments.
5. The video does not contain standard publication and production information, but the DVD has the handwritten date "2-19-06" on its face and, when played, indicates that it is the "Build 37 Working copy." This DVD appears to be an updated version of the "Against the Darkness" video that the Department received in VHS format for consideration with the PF. On April 15, 2005, the Department received a document that contained both an introduction to the "Against the Darkness" video and the video's script. The documents state that Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D., wrote both the introduction and the script.
A third set of comments came from John Moody, an informed party, in his letter that the Department received on May 15, 2006. Among other things, Moody contested the PF's analysis of one of eight unnumbered pages of a Vermont Eugenics Survey (VES) "Pedigree" file, compiled around 1927 to 1930, as it applied to criterion 83.7(a).
Analysis of the Comments
The petitioner instructed the Department to evaluate a DVD interview with "Alice Roy." A video segment entitled "Stories of Visiting the Abenakis ... Vermont Oral History of 1910-1918," contains a recent but undated interview with Mrs. Gerard Roy, a non-member who apparently was a young girl in Vermont in the early 20th century. 6. A transcription of the interview is as follows:
[Mrs. Gerard Roy speaking (n.d., all text sic):] When I was 9 years old, I would bring my books home, and my father was very interested in it, and I told my father that we were studying about Indians. And he said, "You know my girl, there is Indians in Vermont here." He says, "I want to tell you." He says, "My father and I, we took a buggy from Barre, Vermont, and we went to the northern part of Vermont to see what they had called a savage, but they were Indians." And he says, "I was going to ... was curious enough to know that I want to see for myself that they weren't dangerous. So we left from Barre to see the Indians." And he says, "We rode around, and we saw the way they lived." And he said, "We saw their fires, and we saw their ... the wigwam the way they lived." And he says, "We were very satisfied." and then he said, "We took the buggy back home." And he said, "We got home very late." ("Against the Darkness" 2006)
This interview, on its own, does not constitute identification by an external observer of the petitioner or a predecessor group—as an American Indian entity for the following reasons:
1.) Mrs. Gerard Roy did not observe the "Indians in Vermont." It was her father and her grandfather, not Mrs. Gerard Roy herself, who supposedly observed the "Indians in Vermont." Mrs. Gerard Roy's account, therefore, is not an observation; it is an account of one of her father's stories.
2.) Although the interview referenced "Indians in Vermont," it did not identify an entity. According to the interviewee, her father recalled seeing multiple Indians, but it is unclear whether he saw a few individuals, a family or two, or a larger group. It is difficult to discern much about these Indians, especially when the interviewee stated that "the Indians" (plural) her father observed lived in "the wigwam" (singular). 7. Perhaps these
6. The petitioner's August 14, 2006, letter specifically directs the Department to examine an interview with Alice Roy [Frederick M. Wiseman's wife?], but the interview on the DVD video is with Mrs. Gerard Roy of Barre, Vermont, the Department presumes that Alice Roy and Mrs. Gerard Roy are the same person. Additionally, the DVD interview does not indicate when Mrs. Gerard Roy was born, how old she was when at the time of the interview, or any other specific information that would allow the Department to approximate the date on which her father observed the "Indians of Vermont."
7. Another concern with this interview is that the photographs accompanying the video interview are undated and unattributed; it is uncertain how reliable it is as evidence. There is a photograph of several individuals outside a
3.) As the PF noted, the interview did not provide "the name of any particular town in the area, or any tribal identification for the Indians he is supposed to have visited" (Abenaki PF 2005, 67). The town of Barre, Vermont, is about 60 miles southeast of Swanton, the claimed geographic center of the petitioner. However, without further information about the approximate location of the supposed Indians, the Department cannot establish that Mrs. Roy was referring to the petitioner's claimed ancestors 8. who lived in or near Swanton. There was no mention of Swanton in the interview; these Indians could have been itinerant Indians (see the upcoming discussion on the Dr. James Petersen interview), perhaps temporarily visiting "the northern part of Vermont" from Canada, Maine, Upstate New York, or elsewhere. 9.
This interview, therefore, is not an external identification of an American Indian entity ancestral to the petitioner.
The second interview on the petitioner's "Against the Darkness" video presentation that the Department evaluated under criterion 83.7(a) is an interview with the late Dr. James Petersen of the University of Vermont's anthropology department. The interview is entitled "Stories of Vermont Basketmakers." In this interview, Dr. Petersen discussed a basket that was:
obtained by my grandmother from an itinerant basket-seller during the years of the Depression, presumably in the 1930's. And my grandmother, when she gave it to me, said that it was obtained ... she got the basket in return for feeding a couple of gypsies—as she called them but then laughed and said, "of course you know they're native people, they were native people who traveled up and down
FOOTNOTE 7. continued: house or a barn, and this photograph is displayed on the screen when Mrs. Gerard Roy is talking about a "wigwam," this contradiction of oral evidence and visual evidence introduces another level of uncertainty into the petitioner's argument.
8. The term "claimed ancestor" is a term used in the PF and the FD to refer to an ancestor who is claimed by at least some of the petitioner's current membership. These claims may or may not be factually accurate, and these claims may or may not be consistent. In short, the term "claimed ancestor" is a problematic term. See footnote 12 on p. 14 of this FD for a further discussion on this point.9.
9. The PF established that, by the late 19th century, itinerant Indians from other areas traveled through northern New England. As the PF stated, "the petitioner and the State both submitted evidence which demonstrated that Western Abenakis from Odanak and Passamaquoddy and Penobscot from Maine traveled to the large summer resort hotels throughout the region, selling baskets and other crafts to tourists," and that "[b]y the 1880's, Abenaki Indians from Quebec and Passamaquoddy and Penobscot Indians from Maine were beginning to manufacture baskets specifically for the summer tourist trade" (Abenaki PF 2005, 68). Thus, the "Indians in Vermont" to which Mrs. Gerard Roy alludes may have been itinerant Indians who were traveling through the area, but who lived somewhere other than northern Vermont.
old Route 7," and visited her from time to time in her hometown of Salisbury, Vermont. ("Against the Darkness" 2006)
There is no available evidence to conclude that this interview refers to the petitioner's ancestors. This interview shares some characteristics of the Roy interview, and it does not constitute identification by an external observer of the petitioner, or a predecessor group, as an American Indian entity for the following reasons:
1.) Dr. Petersen did not observe "native people." His grandmother, not Dr. Petersen himself, who supposedly observed the "native people who traveled up and down old Route 7." Dr. Petersen's account, therefore, is not an observation; it is an account of one of his grandmother's stories.
2.) Although Dr. Petersen claims his grandmother identified "native people who traveled up and down old Route 7," she did not identify an entity. Dr. Petersen's grandmother did recall seeing "a couple of gypsies, as she called them," but, as stated above, references to individual Indian descendants or Indian families are not satisfactory identifications of an American Indian entity.
3.) These "native people" may have "traveled up and down old Route 7" and visited Dr. Petersen's grandmother in Salisbury, Vermont, a town that is about 75 miles south of Swanton, the petitioner's claimed geographical center. However, the interview does not discuss where these itinerant Indians actually lived. They may have lived in Canada, Maine, or Upstate New York. The evidence does not show that the interview referred to the petitioner's ancestors, and it is especially difficult to determine that the Indians in the interview were ancestors ofthe petitioner without additional specific geographic information, a specific discussion of the itinerant Indians' tribal identification, and other descriptive material.
This interview, therefore, is not an external identification of an American Indian entity ancestral to the petitioner.
The May 2006 submission from Lester Lampman contains several pieces of evidence that might constitute external identifications of an American Indian entity. Most of the documents, however, relate to the petitioner's affairs after 1975. It is not necessary to evaluate each of these submissions with respect to criterion 83.7(a) because the PF has already concluded that there was sufficient evidence to satisfy criterion 83.7(a) after 1975.
An exception that may refer to the period before 1975 is a photograph of the "Grandma Lampman Site Maquam Shore Project" memorial, which is a commemorative plaque affixed to a rock. The Lampman letter provided no description of who "Grandma Lampman" was, how she descended from a historical Indian tribe, or how she is related to the petitioner. 10. The memorial
10. The petitioner's FTM genealogical database lists a "Martha Ann Morits" who was Leonard M. Lampman's grandmother. According to the FTM genealogical database, Martha Ann Morits was born in 1866 in Bedford, Quebec, Canada, and died in 1943 in Swanton, Vermont, after living for 35 years in the United States. Martha Ann Morits allegedly descends from the Morice family, and the PF notes that the available evidence did not demonstrate
Mr. Bartoo says that Back Bay, Swanton, was settled by the French when they thought they were settling in Canada. The result is a French and Indian mixture. He says the St. Francis Indians are a French and Indian mixture. (Bartoo n.d., 1; see also Moody 5/5/2005, 6; Abenaki PF 2005, 27)
In its PF, the Department did not accept this as an external observation of an American Indian entity for two principal reasons. First, Bartoo's first two sentences characterize the ethnic composition of Back Bay, Swanton, rather than an American Indian entity. Second, the Department's reading of the available evidence concluded that Bartoo's use of the term "St. Francis Indians" was "most likely a reference to the historical tribe at Odanak, Quebec,... rather than a contemporary Indian entity in Swanton" (Abenaki PF 2005, 27).
In his comment, Moody concedes that "more research is needed" to accurately interpret this statement, but disputes the Department's second reason for not accepting it as satisfactory evidence. Moody argues that, rather than referring to the historical St. Francis Indians in Canada, Bartoo's statement refers to "the large St. Francis family and their numerous Abenaki relatives in Back Bay in Swanton in the 1920's and 1930's." He did not provide new evidence to corroborate his claim. In contrast, the PF noted that the VES [Vermont Eugenics Survey] "Pedigree" file identified this family as French-Canadian, not Indian." However, even if Moody's statement were demonstrably true—that "the St. Francis Indians" in the VES text were a family it would not satisfy criterion 83.7(a) because the Department does not accept references to individual Indian descendents or Indian families as satisfactory evidence for criterion 83(a).
10. continued that the Morice family descends from a historical Indian tribe (Abenaki PF 2005, 128-132). Whether or not "Grandma Lampman" descended from a historical Indian has no bearing on the evaluation of the memorial under criterion 83.7(a).
11. Furthermore, the PF found that "none of the individuals in this file was identified by the Eugenics Survey as Indian" (Abenaki PF 2005, 27).
The PF concluded, based on the available evidence, that the petitioner did not satisfy criterion 83.7(a) for the period 1900 to 1975, but that the petitioner did satisfy the criterion from 1975 to the present [because of their VT State-Sanctioned "Under State Laws" Incorporation(s)]. During the comment period, the Department received no new evidence that an external observer identified the petitioner or an antecedent group before 1975 as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis [because the group DID NOT exsist BEFORE the 1970's]. Two interviews in the "Against the Darkness" video provide vague secondhand accounts of unspecified Indian individuals living in, or at least traveling through, Vermont in the first third of the 20th century. However, they are not firsthand observations of an American Indian entity, and the evidence does not demonstrate that the observed Indians were either the petitioner or an antecedent group. Therefore, these two interviews are not identifications of an American Indian entity as required under criterion 83.7(a). The Lampman letter contains material that might constitute external identifications of an American Indian entity. However, this material relates to the petitioner's affairs after 1975, a period during which PF already concluded that there was sufficient evidence to satisfy criterion 83.7(a). John Moody's comment that disputed one aspect of the PF's interpretation of the VES is plausible, especially if corroborating evidence were available. Even if Moody's interpretation were true, it would not be an identification of an American Indian entity. In summary, material the Department received during the comment and response periods did not, together with rest of the available evidence, demonstrate that external observers identified the petitioner as an American Indian entity on a substantially continuous basis from 1900 to 1975.
Based on the available evidence, the FD concludes that there is sufficient evidence of external identifications ofthe petitioner as an as Indian entity during the period since 1975. External observers, however, did not identify the petitioner or an antecedent group as an American Indian entity before 1975. Because the available evidence is insufficient to demonstrate substantially continuous identification of the petitioner as an American Indian entity from 1900 to the present, the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(a).