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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Nulhegan Group Article in the Express Newspaper by Anne L. Squire ~ May 16, 2002 Communications from Luke A. Willard aka "Falling Owl" to "Chief" Ralph Swett aka "Chief Spirit Water":

Document 01 and 02: Some of the members of the Nulhegan Band, Cowasuck Abenaki, who are petitioning the Vermont legislature for state recognition. From left to right, rear, Luke Willard, Dawn Macie (Dancing Light), front row, left to right: Nancy Cote, Silent Thunder, Sparkingly Water. (Photo by Anne L. Squire)
Indian Derby Line
Local Abenakis forming a new band, seeking state recognition.
Express Staff Writer
DERBY LINE _ For 30 years, various groups of Abenakis have petitioned the Legislature and the governors for state recogntion. This status would give that group an official status within Vermont.
Federal recognition, which has very specific criteria and is usually much harder to achieve, brings benefits such as health access and scholarships. Many tribes that have federal recognition have casinos on their land, which bring the tribes a considerable amount of money because Indian casinos are exempt from federal taxes.
For most of the 70's and 80's, the most vocal Abenaki group in Vermont was the group at Swanton, under the leadership of the late Homer St. Francis. That group applied for state recognition, but Attorney General William Sorrell denied their petition in a 254-paged document.
Although several other groups within the state have attempted some form of petition, they have been unsuccessful for several reasons.
Most recently, former Gov. Howard Dean rejected state recognition for the Swanton band because he believed recognition would open the floodgates to other Abenaki groups, and would pave the way for a casino in Vermont.
Now, an alleged group of Abenakis, meeting presently in Derby Line has petitioned the governor and the Legislature for state recognition. This group, calling themselves the Nulhegan band of the Coosuk Abenaki, originally were part of the group that meets at Evansville, under the leadership of Ralph Swett. They left to form their own group.
Luke Willard, elected as their war chief, and several members of the group were interviewed Sunday afternoon.
In only a few months, the group has grown from 15 to around 50, Willard said. The group has been incorporated in Vermont as a non-profit organization, and is seeking federal status as a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization.
Willard said the group has been in contact with local legislators about the issue, with several of them indicating support for their petition. He said their petition clearly states that they are not interested in gaming or having a casino. (REMEBER that David A. Hill's "Casino Management Contract" of 1994...and then also remember the Colebrook, N.H. Bank Account outside-of-Vermont, in which Luke A. Willard's name is on, with "Chief" David A. Hill and "Chief" Reynold Choiniere's names as well, which was and is dated April 4, 2002 and May 10, 2002)
They base their request for recognition on family genealogies that go back many generations of Abenaki-descended people who have lived in the Nulhegan watershed area. One of the few land sale records from or to Abenakis is a 200 year old sale of land by an Abenaki named Philip, who sold (illegally) about 300 square miles of territory in the northern Connecticut River-eastern Memphremagog basin area.
Philip's band were called the "Cowasuk" or "Coosuk" Abenakis, their name deriving from the Abenaki word "Coos," or "Cowas," meaning that they were the "people who live among the pine trees."
Willard said he hopes, more than anything, to make the Abenakis in this area, "more visible."
Group member and business office person Nancy Cote said that, in addition to working on genealogies, the group has also started recording oral traditions and family stories for their archives. She added that the group has started thinking about possibly a museum where people could come and see all the artifacts from this area. Artifacts include stone points, called "arrow heads," as well as other stone tools that have been found in the area.
Cote added that she hopes the group can also encourage pride in being Abenaki in this part of Vermont. She noted that many other Abenaki groups in the state have fallen apart through lack of communication and a lack of solidarity among the members.
Another woman, Sparkling Waters, noted that people stop and ask her about the medicine bag she wears around her neck.
"People want to know about the Abenakis," she noted.
This group is hoping that their petition will be the one that finally allows at least some Vermont Abenakis to be acknowledged as Vermont's original people.

Document 03: Fax'd Communication from (?) to 754-2954 at 5/16/2002 at 5:20 PM.
Chief Spirit Water
Ralph Swett
Kwai Nidoba,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. You stated that 'nothing can be accomplished until people come together' and you are right. This is what we are trying to do. We want to form a working and cooperating relationship between the Algonquin Wabanaki Confederation and the Clan of the Hawk. Our goal is to see as many tribes, bands, clans, etc., agree to cooperate and work together toward the goals that we can all agree on...recognition, existence, and preservation. We have been in contact with State Representatives and so far we have received very positive feedback and commitments of support. We have calls in to key officials of many Abenaki organizations in hopes to achieve friendly relations and cooperation. As you know, the Northeast Kingdom has a high population of Native peoples and I'm sure you'll  agree that as Native Americans we have the obligation to respect and honor one another. With steps being taken towards recognition it is very important that we make our presence known in the Northeast. Please consider this consideration the first of many friendly relations to come. Also, notify me as soon as possible as to whether or not I may include the Clan of the Hawk in our position as I am making the trip to Montpelier next week.
May the Great Spirit guide and watch over you and yours...
Best regards,
Falling Owl
Luke Willard
AWC Tribal Spokesman
498 Highland Ave.
Newport, VT 05855
From: Northern Border Luke A. Willard
To: Clan of the Hawk
Chief Spirit Water
Date: 5/16/2002

Document 04: Fax'd Communication from (?) to 754-2954 at 5/16/2002 at 5:31 PM.
Vermont State Legislature
Vermont State Senate
Monpelier, VT
Dated: May 16, 2002
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is hereby agreed that the Vermont Abenaki, including but not limited to, the Algonquin-Wabanaki Confederation, the St. Francis-Sokoki, the Clan of the Hawk, the Alnobak Nebasakiak, and other sub clans, have occupied and inhabited the land that we know as the State of Vermont since time immemorial.
It is also agreed that there is no proof that the Abenaki knowingly or cooperatively extinguished Aboriginal Title to the land occupied by the State of Vermont.
It is finally agreed that the Vermont Abenaki, defined above, should receive the status of recognition at the state level, which would lead to federal recognition to preserve their culture, heritage, and sovereignty for future generations.
From: Northern Border Luke A. Willard
To: Clan of the Hawk
Chief Spirit Water
Date: 5/16/2002

NOTE: Anne L. Squire is the sister of Mariella Squire, PhD and both of them wrote small booklets via Northeastern Native American Educational Association TH 3 Box 6 in West Glover, Orleans County, Vermont 05875 Telephone: (802)525-3853 in 1997. The booklets are entitled "Abenaki Biographies"/ Northeastern Native American Educational Association by Mariella Squire, PhD. Another booklet was compiled/created by Anne L. Squire entitled "Abenaki Society" again ca. 1997.         

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