To: Bill Frank
19 Poker Hill Rd.
Underhill, VT 05489
George W. Till
74 Foothills Dr.
Jericho, VT 05465
From: Nancy Gallagher, Underhill, Vermont
Date: April 21, 2010
Re. Bill S.222 on Abenaki Recognition
I am writing in support of Representative Kesha Ram’s statement and the decision of the House Committee on General Affairs to suspend action on Bill S.222 by the House and to proceed instead with legislation that would provide a fair, historically accurate and equitable process for Abenaki recognition, reflecting the spirit and intent of the bill S.117 passed in 2006. I am asking that you will endorse and actively support that decision.
In decisions that profoundly affect the well-being and livelihoods of citizens of this state, it would seem that a period of inquiry, education, and soul-searching concerning the right thing to do would have been in order. At such times, I’ve often used the motto of the Rotarians (which I learned from my father many years ago): “Is it true? Is it fair? Does it promote good will and friendliness? Is it beneficial to all concerned?” Bill S.222 – both in content and the manner of its passage –meets NONE of these criteria.
I have long been a supporter of state historical recognition of Abenaki people, for whom this land we call Vermont has been their ancestral homeland. I entertained high hopes that the Governor’s Commission on Native American Affairs would develop a process whereby all the Abenaki people living in our state could express their heritage with pride, and that all Vermonters would have the opportunity to research and understand the long-repressed history of the indigenous peoples who lived here before my own ancestors set foot on this continent in the early 1600s. Since 2006, I have followed the progress of the Governor’s Commission with anticipation of a fair and equitable process that could be used to identify the historic family bands, so that they might enjoy their heritage, sell their arts and crafts without accusations of fraud, and work towards recovering their family and community history, using oral, material, and written sources. I have been working for many years now with a few Abenaki people from different families and have lectured widely in the state on our collaborative work.
After two years of hard work and deliberation, the Commission presented a process in Bill S.369 (2008) that was historically sound, politically fair and equitable, and which promised to suspend all the accusations of who is and
who is not Abenaki once and for all. Unfortunately, the four-band alliance (who never supported the Governor’s Commission and tried to sabotage it at every turn) thwarted that effort and began a systematic negative propaganda campaign against members of the Commission who were not on their tribal rolls or who had criticized the Mississquoi band’s assertion of complete autonomy over Abenaki recognition in this state.* With the complete support of Senators Vincent Illuzzi and Hinda Miller, their campaign was successful and triumphed in Bill S.222. Having followed the proceedings of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs over the two years, I am dismayed and saddened that senators on this committee -- ones whom I have personally supported at the ballot box for many years --would simply disregard the work of the Commission, silence alternative points of view by censoring input from Commission members and their constituencies, and put forward instead Bill S.222, which rests on the unquestioned and unsubstantiated assertions of its beneficiaries and grants virtually all authority to decide which Abenaki receive recognition to a group of four self-defined “tribes,” who have effectively silenced opposition to their political interests in a campaign of misinformation, threats against other Abenaki people who disagree with them, and slander of any who questioned the authenticity and authority of this four-tribe alliance.
Members of the Governor’s Commission were intentionally misinformed on the VCNAA website about the date of the Senate Committee Hearing when Bill S.222 was marked up (see the film clip by Mark Mitchell on U-Tube**), and the hearing and the vote on the Senate floor were not posted on the state legislative website. Those Abenaki and interested citizens only learned of the mark up and passage of the bill in the media after the fact.
I am grateful and heartened by the efforts of Rep. Kesha Ram to visit Abenaki families, listen to their needs, fears, and concerns, and begin a process that would not only benefit all Abenaki living in Vermont instead of the just the “elect” group, but would enrich the history, culture, and economics of our state as well. Please, please, support her efforts.
Nancy L. Gallagher, independent scholar & author, Breeding Better Vermonters: The Eugenics Project in the Green Mountain State (1999); “Vermont Eugenics: A Documentary History” www.uvm.edu/~eugenics (2001).
* “The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs: An Open Letter To Governor Jim Douglas.” By Frederick Wiseman, and leaders of the tribes granted recognition in S.222, March, 2008.
Senator Hinda Miller states, "Great ok Terrific and I am reporting this Bill and I am extremely happy.....thank you Mark [Mitchell], what you can tell everyone is that we are very very grateful that you honored our request to keep the drama down and not to have too much activity that confused us, that allowed us to really hunker down and get going what we really to do."
[Mark had posted the date for the hearing on his website for Thursday (the day after the hearing was actually held) and after the hearing added “Changed to Wednesday.”]
Cc: Representative Helen Head, Senators Tim Ashe, Ed Flanagan, Ginny Lyons, Douglas Racine, Diane Snelling, Hinda Miller, Vincent Illuzzi
Gov. Jim Douglas appoints Native Recognition Commission
By Terri Hallenbeck
Free Press Staff Writer
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Nine new members of the reconstructed and manipulated Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs were appointed Friday by Gov. Jim Douglas:
• Melody Walker Brook, Elnu Abenaki, Jeffersonville, Vermont
• Shirly Hook-Therrien, Koasek, Braintree, Vermont
• Dawn Macie, Nulhegan Abenaki, Rutland, Vermont
• David Vanslette, Missisquoi Abenaki, Swanton, Vermont
• Takara Matthews, Abenaki, Richmond, Vermont
• Fred W. Wiseman, Abenaki, Newport, Vermont
• Charlene McManis, Confederated Tribe of Grand Ronde, Worcester, Vermont
• Luke Willard, chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki, Brownington, Vermont
• Nathan Pero, Koasek, West Fairlee, Vermont
Source: State Division of Historic Preservation
A newly re-structured Native American Commission was appointed Friday amid hopes that it will avoid disputes that paralyzed its predecessors (because of the non-transparency of the previously appointed Chairperson's Mark Mitchell, Donald Stevens, and Charles Lawrence Delaney who were "advocating" for the "groups" that they are members of) and find a way to allow Abenaki to achieve long-elusive official state recognition.
Nine members were appointed by Gov. Jim Douglas after the Legislature passed a new law this year ordering the commission to be reconfigured and giving the new "Expert" panel a process to recommend official state recognition for individual Abenaki bands. Official recognition would allow artists in the bands to sell their wares as native-made.
“I’m very encouraged,” said Donald Stevens, a Missisquoi Abenaki (meaning that he advocates for April Merrill) who served as chairman of the previous commission and helped push for the new commission (Of course, he pushed for a newly restructured VCNAA, because that way, April Merrill and this so-called "Alliance" can manipulate, and grant themselves their sought after "State Recognition" of their own group's!). “I think you’ve got a great mix.”
Donald Warren Stevens Jr. had warned Douglas when he signed the law in May that the new process toward granting recognition wouldn’t work unless he appointed good people (what Don Stevens really meant was that the Governor Douglas appoint these group's representative members onto the Commission, because they would obstruct ANYONE ELSE on the VCNAA like they did previously!) to the panel. The new commission is particularly notable for the number of young members, said Frederick Matthew Wiseman Sr., Missisquoi historian who also pushed for the new commission. Wiseman’s son, Fred W. Wiseman, is among the new members (why doesn't this surprise me?). He noted several others are in their 20s and 30s. “The young people, I don’t think, are quite as jaded,” he said. (Bullsh**, they are just as manipulated; the Apple's don't fall far from the rotten tree!)
The commission was created in 2006 with a state law that was supposed to grant Vermont Abenaki official status, but the law didn’t meet the criteria of the federal law and the commission was hampered by mistrust among Abenaki bands. (That's because April Merrill & Co. couldn't CONTROL the VCNAA, so they mistrusted the VCNAA; TRUST=COMPLETE CONTROL) The bands overcame strong down-to-the-wire disagreements to reach an agreement on the new law this year. Some Abenaki distrust claims of heritage by others, generating fears that some would seek to block recognition for other bands.
What do you call it, when you have got your "young adults", child of Frederick Wiseman Sr, Presidents/Chiefs of these Incorporations, Carolee Reynolds daughter Takara Matthews, etc. appointed onto this "newly re-constructed" Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs? I would call it TOTALLY BLANTANTLY BIASED. Not one of these people (with the exception of Charlene Willing McManis who is supposedly is "an enrolled tribal member of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, Oregon #3669) are proven "Abenaki"; yet Charlene Willing McManis herself, vocally has repeatedly stated "that she also advocates for State Recognition of Swanton, Vermont's group led by April St. Francis Merrill.
The new law sets out a process by which the new commission will turn to a panel of three experts (WHO are these 3 alleged experts?) to study bands’ applications for official recognition. Based on the experts’ advice, the commission will make recommendations to the Legislature on who should be recognized. (Themselves (their "state-sanctioned Incorporations", of course!) The Legislature would make the final decision.
The new law expanded the commission from seven to nine members; required members to be residents of Vermont for at least three years; and set the panel’s makeup to be diverse geographically and by native affiliation. The panel will elect its own chairman.
The result with Friday’s announcement was a mix of members affiliated with the Elnu (Melody Walker-Brook), Missisquoi (David Vanslette), Nulhegan (Luke Willard and Dawn Macie), Koasek bands (Takara Matthews and Nathan Pero), along with unaffiliated (?) and one non-Abenaki Native American (Charlene McManis). It includes the chief of one band and members of all the bands that were (ARE) part of an alliance that the larger bands have formed as well as members who are not part of the alliance.
“I think you won’t see the fighting that’s been happening over the last few years,” Donald Warren Stevens Jr. said. (Of course, one won't probably see the fighting for transparenct, truthful, honest, legitimate process in recognizing bonefide "Abenakis" because LIARS and THEIVES recognize each other! and the Vermont Legislature and Attorney General's Office is too blind and apathetic to do anything about this biases B.S. going on)
“It’s going to be a good group of people who work well together,” said Frederick Matthew Wiseman Sr. and PhD, who hopes to serve on the expert panel that will advise the commission. PAY ATTENTION....this so-called created VT Indigenous Alliance, which includes Frederick M. Wiseman and April A. St. Francis-Rushlow-Merrill & Company (their so-called "Alliance" of 4) BITCHED, COMPLAINED and WHINED retrospectively-speaking about the previously appointed Vermont Commission On Native American Affairs (Judy Dow, Tim de la Bruere, and Jeanne Brink, Brad Barratt) were alleged "biased"....well what the hell does one call it, IF Frederick Matthew Wiseman PhD gets appointed onto the "Expert Panel" to advise the Commissioner's which of course, includes HIS OWN SON on the Commission ?!!!)
He said several bands are working to prepare their applications for recognition in time for next legislative session. “I know several of them are busting their butts right now,” he said.
In your voice - Read reactions to this story
9/4/2010 9:57:23 AM
douglaslloyd's comment has been removed for violating the terms of service.
The Burlington Free Press Newspaper does not want to the PUBLIC to know about this blog, thats the supposed violation of the terms of service.
The Burlington Free Press just does not want the TRUTH of these people to come out to the open-minded Public and to the people of Vermont etc., to THINK for themsevles, about what is really truthfully going on regarding these Alleged and Re-Invented "Abenakis" in Vermont and New Hampshire! Oh well.....