Thursday, April 29, 2010
Open Letter to Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas of late March 2008 Pages 9-22:
people in the state, believe that they cannot receive a fair hearing on the highly charged political issue of recognition by the Commission. In addition the Abenaki communities believe that the VT Native Commission Chair is compromised due to his inability to get true information from his commissioners. We respectfully request that Governor Douglas revisit his appointments to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, and, as stipulated in S. 117, consult with the organized tribes in appointing new commissioners who will more effective, honest, and representative of Vermont's Indigenous community.
signed (in alphabetical order)
1. Jeffrey Benay, Ed. D. Former Chair, Governor's Commission on Native American Affairs;
2. Brian Chenevert, Chief, Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, Newbury, Vermont,
3.Todd Hebert, President, Ndakinna Cultural Center and Museum, Inc.
4. Roger "Longtoe" Anthony Sheehan, Sagamo (Chief)
5. Jim Taylor (Elder)
6. Rose Hartwell (Elder)
7. Vera "Longtoe" Sheehan (Genealogist), El-Nu Abenaki Tribe;
(Person's from 4 to 7 part of the El-Nu)
8. April Merrill, Chief, St. Francis Sokoki Band (Missisquoi), former Commissioner, Governor's Commission on Native American Affairs
9. Nancy Millette - Doucet, Director, White Pine Association, and Koasek Traditional Band
10. David Skinas, former Commissioner, Governor's Commission on Native American Affairs
11. Luke Willard, Speaker and Trustee, Nulhegan Band
12. Fred Wiseman, Ph.D., former Commissioner, Governor's Commission on Native American Affairs
Supporting references with complete or abstracted primary documentation.
(1) Application for Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs
Job Description: the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs seeks highly experienced and motivated Vermont residents in Tribal government, academia, the arts, and public service with significant skill in Native American affairs, preferably in Vermont or the immediate region. Experience in Vermont indigenous cultural, grant writing, public and media relations, education, informational technology, cultural resources protection and political science a plus.
Current professional position or vocational status:
Describe experience in Native American cultural, political, artistic or spiritual affairs:
Describe experience in local, state, or national commissions, organization etc. that pertain to Native American issues:
If applying as an individual Native candidate for the Commission please list the historically verifiable Tribal Band (this is optional, but is desired to give us a wife diversity of Native participants as possible.)
Please write a description of why you believe that you would be an asset to the Commission.
The candidate shall adhere to the code of ethics included herein.
(Attach a resume and two letters of recommendation from people who are aware of your contribution to Native American culture or politics.)
Code of Ethics (Draft Version of 4/12/06 from Mr. Donald Stevens)
(a) No member of the Vermont Commission on Native American affairs (the "Commission") shall have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest serving on the Vermont Commission on Native American affairs (the "Commission").
(b) No member of the Vermont Commission on Native American affairs (the "Commission") shall engage in any business or professional activity which will require him to disclose confidential information which he has gained by reason of his official position or authority without permission of the Commission.
(c) No member of the Vermont Commission on Native American affairs (the "Commission"), member of the legislature or legislative employee should disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties nor use such information to further his personal interests that are not approved by the Commission.
(d) No member of the Vermont Commission on Native affairs (the "Commission") shall use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others without the approval of the Commission.
(e) Any member of the Vermont Commission on Native American affairs (the "Commission") shall not, by his conduct, give reasonable basis for the impression that any person or organization can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
(f) Any member of the Vermont Commission on Native affairs (the "Commission") shall not endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be in engaged in acts of violation of his trust.
(g) Any violation of section (a) through (f) listed above may constitute disciplinary action, seizer of items obtained through the misconduct, fines set by the commission, and/ or removal from the Commission.
***Note: member constitutes person serving on the Vermont Commission of Native American affiars, their family members, and any businesses where that they may gain profit or compensation from.
(2) Letter of Chief Brian Chenevert, Koasek
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing this letter to express my opinions and concerns regarding the current Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. The Koasek Traditional Band has had representatives attend many of the commission meetings over the past two years and had had many conversation and correspondence with the commission chair Mark Mitchell. Based on these interactions I do not feel that the Koasek Traditional Band was ever represented by the commission. The main purpose for any state commission of Native American Affairs is to act as a liaison
between the state government and the tribes of that state. The Vermont commission has severely failed to act in this regard. Not once has this current commission reached out to any of the long standing Abenaki groups in the state of Vermont. Rarely has this current commission reached out to any of the long standing Abenaki groups in the state of Vermont, and when it did they did not heed the advice given even when it was substantiated with legal precedence set in other states. This commission has worked soled by itself for itself. We have brought many concerns to the commission about amending Bill S. 117. I have explained over and over again to the commission our many concerns about their version of the amendment for S.117 and provided them with legal precedence set previously in other states across the U.S., particularly regarding providing genealogies to any state agency or the commission as this would be a clear violation of our sovereignty. Not only have they not worked with us, they have ignored us to the point that they are now working against us. A perfect example of this would be when two commission members provided testimony at the recent legislative committee hearing on the amendments for bill S.117 as individuals and not on the behalf of the commission but failed to state that point during their testimonies. Additionally, one of these commissioner members forwarded numerous email correspondence to the commission on to outside interests groups who do not reside in Vermont in an effort to draw as many people to the committee hearing as possible to voice their opinions against the Koasek and Missisquoi Abenaki. The behavior, inability to act in an unbiased manner and the overall lack of professionalism by some members of the Vermont commission on Native American Affairs has been appalling and the majority of Abenaki people are anticipating the expiration of their terms in July 2008 so that they can be replaced.
Signed electronically on 03/06/08
Chief Brian Chenevert
Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation
(3) Letter of Nancy Millette, Koasek Spokesperson
I have attended many commission meetings and have had many conversations with Mark Mitchell over the last two years. I can honestly say I do not believe the Koasek Traditional Band was ever represented by the commission. I have neither seen nor hear from them do anything for or with us. I have brought many concerns to the commission about the drafting of the addition to Bill S.117. I arranged a meeting with Governor Douglas to ask him by way of executive order to give the power to the commission to recognize tribes. I invited Mark Mitchell to accompany me to this meeting. What came out of that meeting with Governor Douglas was a task force to work with Mark Mitchell over the summer to draw a new bill. I offered and a friend of mine offered to help finance a Lawyer for the Native Rights Fund or one they would suggest who was schooled in Indian Law. I was never asked to help the commission with that offer. I have explained over and
over again to the commission many concerns about giving genealogies over to the state or even the commission. They didn't pay any attention to my concerns. I have not seen any respect given to the historic tribes St. Francis Sokoki Missisquoi or to Koasek. We have not been represented in the bill or during any of the drafting. I have sent what I thought were private emails to Mark Mitchell to only find they have been sent to all commission members who then sent them out to their friends outside of the commission until those private emails were all over the message boards on the Internet which has caused a great deal of slander, bashing and more division within the Abenaki Territory.
Signed on this Day March 6, 2008
Nancy Millette (now married name of Doucet)
(4) Letter of Chief April Merrill, Missisquoi
To Whom It May Concern:
For the record, I have been saying for months the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs does not represent me or my Tribe. I have stated this publicly on several occasions. We don't feel they are representing us. After listening to Commission members testify Friday February 29, 2008 in Montpelier it is very clear they do not represent us in any way, shape, or form. I guess what they don't realize is that if it wasn't for Missisquoi they wouldn't be sitting on a Commission today. When Commission member Jeanne Brink was testifying, Commission member Judy Dow was jumping up and down to help her answer a question that was asked of her (Jeanne) and wouldn't even let Jeanne answer the question herself. I'm sorry I thought this made Jeanne and the Commission look like fools. This made me wonder, does Judy do all the talking for the Commission? When Commission member Judy Dow testified she said we (meaning Missisquoi) didn't have State or Federal Recognition. Non of these other groups have even filed for Federal Recognition so what difference does this make? As a Commission member Judy should be required to know in how S.117 reads now wouldn't you think? She didn't even know that Missisquoi is the only historical tribe recognized by name in S.117 as it reads now and yet she claims to represents all Abenaki or Native Americans in Vermont by serving on this Commission. We are all trying to figure out just what it is that this Commission has done for any Native American in Vermont since they have been in existence? Some Commission members represent their own interest and don't care about the entire Native population in Vermont. I can't believe that the Commission held a meeting to let all these out of State groups have a forum. I though the Vermont Commission was set up to deal with Vermont issues and Vermont Native peoples. No wonder the Senators & Legislators do not know who is who. It must be very confusing to them to have out of State people coming here to testify. I do not understand the reasoning behind this myself. Most of the testimonies given by these people were to discredit Missisquoi. I believe Missisquoi has proven itself over and over. However, we can't say that about others that have come out of the wood work. As I stated in earlier testimony where were these clans, bands, or sub groups when the Jane Baker study was conducted back in 1976? How can these Commission members be given the power to be judge & jury of who is and who isn't Abenaki in
this state if each one of them have not proven their authenticity and/ or citizenship in one of the remaining historically verifiable bands in Vermont. Where is the fairness and legitimacy in this process? With that said the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi St. Francis/ Sokoki Band and I have no confidence in the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs as it stands now.
Chief April St. Francis Merrill
Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi
St. Francis/ Sokoki Band
(5) Statement of Nulhegan Band
Since the passing of S.117 and the appointment of the current VCNAA commissioners, the Nulhegan Band has had zero representation on a commission that was formed to develop S.117. Not one single call regarding recognition or S.117. The once or twice that we talked with any commissioner; they were only seeking support on issues not pertinent to Nulhegan's interests that we had no knowledge of. When I testified before Senate Committee on February 29, 2008, I only supported the commission draft because Nulhegan was absent in draft four. We encourage a draft that is inclusive to Missisquoi, Koasek, AND Nulhegan as the three populated historical Vermont Abenaki Bands with respective appointments to VCNAA. While I do not support the notion that Jeanne Brink is acting on behalf of her Canadian Band at Odanak, it is apparent to me that VCNAA is not working with, assisting, or representing the needs and concerns of any of the aforementioned Abenaki communities. I'm not quite sure what it is that they do. Regarding the Odanak Abenakis of Vermont AKA the Obomsawin Family of Vermont, a family unit led by Richard "Skip" Bernier, of which Tim Delabruere is a member, I find it suspicious that Tim and Richard both testified against S. 117 yet Tim was appointed to the commission formed by its passing into law. Regardless of what transpires, the VCNAA must be representative of Missisquoi, Nulhegan, and Koasek.
Nulhegan Band Speaker and Trustee
(6) Letter of El-Nu Abenaki Tribe
To whom it may concern.
We have had concerns over the VCNAA and we believe the commission is compromised. We voiced our concerns, when we testified at the VCNAA meeting back in October 2007, then again February 15, 2008 at the Senate testimony. Denise Watso's letter clearly shows the attitude Odanak has toward Vermont Abenakis who are not members of Odanak. Additionally, a member of the VCNAA forwarded numerous private emails to at least one individual (who the email was not intended for). As a result, this email was posted to numerous message boards and forums, causing a great deal of slanderous controversy. We believe some of the VCNAA commissioners are honorable and have been working hard, however the commission has been compromised and it is not a fair representation of our interests. Thank you for your time and consideration!
El-Nu Abenaki Tribe
Signed this day March 11, 2008 (this date will show up here instead of the next page because such information fits to this particular letter in which it belongs to)
(7) Portion of E-mail by Denise Watso condemning Vermont Abenaki groups
Why is the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs seeking the power to recognize groups as Indian, when only two of its members can provide evidence (sic) of their Abenaki ancestry? How can we trust this Commission to evaluate historical evidence, when they have not been able to document their own claims? ...Who is this "Koasek" group? And why should the "St. Francis/ Sokoki group take precedence in his proposal after the Vermont Attorney General and the Bureau of Indian Affairs found that they couldn't provide evidence (sic) of Indian, let alone Abenaki? ...How do you think many of us feel seeing strangers, not knowing most if not any of them are native, portraying us in public? And the press and the public want to see the play-acting... We demand better... Should self-identified groups and individuals wish to secure recognition, they should come to us to present their case, asking for our support. They should do so in humility rather than arrogance.
Denise Watso, NY Liaison, Odanak (Quebec) Reserve, Albany, NY, Feb. 26, 2008
(8) E-mail dsavowing an Odanaki connection and threatening "other action"
From: Jeanne ******firstname.lastname@example.org
Date: 25 Feb 2008 )4:01:54 +0000
I would like to settle once and for all that I do not represent or have the interest of Odanak when I am serving on the Commission? I have the interest of all Native Americans in Vermont? I'm sure Odanak would get a big laugh if they heard that people think I am representing Odanak? I was born and raised in Vermont and a Vermont Abenaki? People say that white people have been biased and prejudiced against Native Americans and now I hear members of your band being biased and prejudiced against other Abenaki such as myself? How unfair!! What are they afraid of?? Are they not confident in themselves or so paranoid that they have to attack other Abenaki?? They need to take a look at themselves and ask what kind of Native American are they? I hope I don't hear this anymore or I will have to take other action.
Jeanne A. Brink
(9) Senate testimony of VCNAA Commissioner Jeanne Brink, 2/29/08
There are two of us that have family ties to Odanak and I am one of them. I was born and raised in Vermont, I am a Vermonter; I have never lived in any other place. I am a Vermont Abenaki. To say that we (Brink and De la Breuere) are on the Commission representing Odanak is a lie.
(10) Burlington Free Press article identifying Commissioner Jeanne Brink as Odanak Band member.
"I think it will solve the problem," said Jeanne Brink of Barre, an Abenaki
basketmaker who is a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. She is able to sell her work as Native American as a citizen of the Odanak Reserve in Quebec, but she said she works with other Vermont Abenaki artists who cannot.
Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press October 3, 2007
"I was surprised by her saying that (that Brink was Vermont, not Odanak Abenaki) the other day too. I don't have my notes from that October conversation (referred to in the quote above). She never contacted me to say that I got it wrong."
Terri Hallenbeck, The Burlington Free Press March 3, 2008
(11) Part of Jeanne Lincoln Kent's public e-mail
At Friday's (Senate) hearing, one member (Jeanne Brink) came over to me and asked why I was sitting with April Merrill and Nancy Millett, then quietly said that if the Senate did not pass the Committee's bill, she was going to recommend that the no recognition be given to anyone. (My husband was sitting between us and heard the conversation). Further, when giving testimony she stated she was not affiliated with Odanak. I am attaching a news item (See above Burlington Free Press article #8 extracted) which indicates differently.
Jeanne Lincoln Kent
(12) Statement of Indigenous Vermont identity by Timothy de la Breuere
"I'm a Vermont Abenaki"
Tim de la Bruere VT Native American Commissioner,
Feb 25, 2008
(13) Political expectations of Timothy de la Breuere
Leaders in two nations participated Friday afternoon in the ceremonial swearing in of city resident Tim de la Bruere, 24, as a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. One leader was Vermont Gov. James Douglas. The other was Chief Gillis Obomsawin, leader of the Odanak band of Abenaki. ...Yet once the bill (S.117) became law, according to (Duncan) Kilmartin, he and (Michael) Marcotte pushed to have a grandson of an Odanak band member ("Skip" Bernier) sit on the commission to bring that perspective to its deliberations. "You have a unique opportunity to represent your heritage." Kilmartin said to de la Bruere. Chief Obomsawin said he was proud to have a representative of a recognized band on the Vermont commission.
Robin Smith, ICaledonian Record, September 4, 2006
(14) Statement by Fred Wiseman, Ph.D. March 8, 2008
In the fall of 2003, there were letters sent by Odanak officials to historic preservation officers in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, specifically to disrupt the cordial relations between these states and Missisquoi Abenakis. I believe that Chief April Merrill retains copies of these letters. Richard Bernier's group was asserted in these letters to be the only true representatives of Vermont (or American) Abenakis. It took me and April (Chief April Merrill) a lot of phone calling to straighten this problem out. I am not sure that a slight misgiving still remains (in the spring of 2008) in some State government circles caused by this
attempted take over.
Missisquoi Tribal Historian, March 8, 2008)
(15) Statement by Luke Willard, Trustee, Nulhegan Band
Tim Delabreure (sic) is a member of Skip Bernier's group, the Odanak Abenakis of Vermont.....He told me there wasn't an Abenaki in this state except for his family.
Luke Willard, Nulhegan Band, Sept. 5, 2006
(16) E-mail Transmitted by Luke Willard, Trustee, Nulhegan band
I've read the agreement you and Dawn Macie both have with Fred Wiseman. I know what you think your getting into. Just make sure you understand the process. The second this amendment will get out of Vince's (Rep. Vincent Illuzzi) committee it will go into about 10 before moving into the House of Reps. Any individual can attend committees and argue to change the wording. Do you think your band will stand a chance? Will you and Dawn be able to attend 4 or 5 committee meetings a week? At any rate the amendment will fail as Gov. Douglas has already expressed his intent to veto. This isn't an issue of it passing or not, it's an issue of trust, and you and Dawn have completely showed me true colors here. Just remember that this amendment was the Abenakis only shot here. Senators are getting very weary and tired of all the showing around. Its an election year. If it fails now it will not be brought up again for a long time. See you tomorrow if your there and I've been looking over some letters about your cultural center. be well Tim de la Breuere
also Senate Testimony on 25 March 2008, "My name is Judy Dow, I am an Abenaki member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs from the Winooski group of Abenaki family bands in the Burlington, Colchester and Winooski area."
(20) "For Artisans, Recognition Discrepancy Spells Identity Crisis"
Associated Press, May 5, 2007
(21) Text of Chief Merrill's "sense of conversations" with Nancy Comstock
FYI, I'm writing to tell you about a phone call I received on March 1, 2008 at 8:50 AM. A woman named Nancy Comstock called me at my home, she claimed to be Judy Dow's sister. She said she supported me, my efforts, and what I do for my people. She apologized for her sisters actions and said she wasn't impressed with her actions. She said they are not native. She said Judy has made a living on the Abenaki name. She said they never grew up at the interval and the the stories that Judy tells about the gathering and walking on the trails is all lies. She said she didn't know why Judy tells lies, and that she lies so much she believes herself. I told her we know about that we have one of our own who does this by telling people, her grandmother was born in a cave. I told her they must think by telling these stories this makes them more Abenaki. I thanked her for calling. Told her I need to get going because I was going to New Hampshire this morning for a funeral.
After thinking about this phone call for a couple of days, I decided I needed to call her back. I had questions I needed answered. So, I tried to call her back and we played phone tag for a couple of days. Last night March 6, 2008 I finally talked to her again. I asked her where they grew up. She said in Burlington, but they summered in South Hero most of the time. She asked me why I wanted to know this. I said that Judy has been telling people she her family is from Moccasin Village and the interval and she was from the Winooski family group of Abenaki. She said she had never heard of Moccasin Village and that they didn't grow up at the Interval, but that it was not at the interval and that it was in the New North End. She said they grew up in Burlington not Winooski. She didn't know where Judy got any of her information from because nobody was raised in the Native way or ever talked about it at all. She said Judy is pretty convincing with the stories she tells. She said Judy claims the Native side comes in on her grandfather's wife's side of the family. I asked her what their maiden name was she said Fortin. I asked what her grandmother's name was that the Native side was on she said she thinks Rocheleau but was not sure. She said Judy gave her some genealogy once and it had everyone listed on it but the problem was she (meaning Judy) had all of her sisters birth dates wrong so she didn't believe the rest of it and threw it out. After all Judy should have known when their birthdays were, they were sisters. She said there may be Native blood but she doesn't know for sure or not. I told her that Judy had applied for citizenship with our Tribe and she didn't meet the requirements and that she needed more documentation. We didn't say she wasn't Abenaki but, she didn't have the paperwork to prove it at the time she applied. She never provided us with any other documentation showing where an Abenaki line came in on her family tree. We knew she had learned to make baskets from Mali Keating (who by the way was Abenaki and her family came from Odanak) and that Judy had also been doing educational stuff with the school we figured this is why she applied for a citizenship card. We believe this is why Judy is using her position on the Commission to attack Missisquoi every chance she gets is because we didn't approve her application back when. Since she was already claiming to be Abenaki. I guess she thought it would be easy for her to get citizenship with us and she found out that it is not easy we have requirements that need to be met. Then we find out that years later she is saying she is from the Winooski Family Bands of Abenaki, which is not a group we have ever heard of before. She talks about Moccasin Village, and we have never heard of this before either. I told Nancy that when I testified the first time I said that whom ever is coming forward saying they are Abenaki that they should have to prove it with Historical Documents and not just because they say so. I told Nancy there has been a lot of new groups coming out of the wood work not just the one Judy speaks of and most of them came out just before State Recognition. I told Nancy there has been a lot of new groups coming out of the wood work not just the one Judy speaks of and most of them came out just before State of Vermont the way the law reads now. They do not have to show any historical proof to anyone. But, that Missisquoi is the only Tribe by name mentioned in the bill. Then, I told her even Historians have never of Moccasin Village or of any Winooski based group.
Yes, there are sites in Winooski. I told her Judy hasn't really said to much more about Moccasin Village since I put the word out to people that I would like her to show us or anyone the historical documents that have the name "Moccasin Village" on them or the Winooski group. First of all, Abenakis wouldn't have used a white man's name to name a village to begin with. Nancy said her father's parents got divorce when he was around 10 or 12 and shortly after his mother died and he was raised in the orphanage. She said he was definitely not raised in the Native way either. They were not raised knowing they were Indian. She gets very upset when Judy talks about the colonist and what they did to the Native people because she (Nancy) believes she was raised as a colonist. She doesn't know where Judy gets the bit about being Winooski family group of Abenaki because they were not from Winooski. She said Judy lies so much that she believes her own lies: I asked her if she would come forward with this information. She said come forward to who? I said the Vermont Government, the Governor, Senators, Legislatures, & Suzanne Young legal council to the Governor and possibly the press. She said she would talk with Senators about this but wasn't for sure whether or not she would talk with the press because of past experience. I said she should definitely speak with Senator Illuzzi and that she should also speak with others as well and I suggested the Governor, Suzanne Young, and Senators from her area. I don't know if she has contacted any of these people or not.
She said that a Sally Pollack from the Burlington Press did a story on Judy once and that she (Nancy) called her on it. She said she told Sally she had been duped and Sally responded by saying that she only printed what she was told. Nancy said she asked Sally if she printed everything without the facts. Maybe, we should ask Terry Hallenbeck if she could look into this. She said she doesn't know where Judy gets all of her information from because no one in the family ever talked about being Abenaki or Native.
Chief April St. Francis Merrill
(22) Statement of Todd Hebert, President, Ndakinna Cultural Center
Recognition granted in 2006 was in my mind to finally give The Abenakis a status. But the other part of recognition I believe was about protecting us. The current recognition basically says anyone who claims to be Abenaki is. At least in there minds. So where are we at now. Now we have to legally say who is Abenaki. Well my feeling on that is that the people who have been making money off from our heritage for all these years are not going to fight this to the end. Judy Dow is one of those people at least from what I can see. She is bringing in people from all over to join her on this fight. Why? Because she has a lot to lose. She makes & sells baskets, she teaches classes, she is in the public spotlight saying she is Abenaki. The lifestyle she is now living could potentially come to an end since she cannot prove her heritage. Heck, her own sister says she's not native. She is viciously protecting her well being while trying to take away our recognition. It makes me ill that a person could do this to not only a group of people but a minority culture that has already endured so much pain.
(23) VCNAA Chair Mark Mitchell, VCNAA Commission notes, Feb. 25, 2008
March 14, 2008 - JDH Bill regarding "Abenaki Recognition"
Introduced by Senator Vincent Illuzzi of Ezzex-Orleans District
Senator Carris of Rutland District
Senator Condos of Chittenden District
Senator Hinda Miller of Chittenden District
Senator Racine of Chittenden District
This bill proposes to recognise the Koasek, Missisquoi and Nulhegan bands of the Abenaki Nation as the original Native American tribes residing in Vermont, grant the Vermont Commission on Native American affairs the authority to officially recognize other tribes and bands of Native Americans, and set out procedures and criteria for the commission to follow in evaluating whether to grant such recognition.