In addition, the 20 "primary" ancestors claimed by the petitioner were not of the same generation and OFA researchers were unable to verify that individuals in all the "primary" ancestral families were living in a community together continuously through time. In some cases, their first recorded residences in Vermont span more than a century, indicating they did not all immigrate at the same time. The petitioner will need to demonstrate that its named progenitors were a part of a community that migrated over time, or that the progenitors arriving at later dates joined the existing community. Some did not live at the same location prior to appearing in Vermont, according to the petitioner's records (Hakey came from Massachusetts; Medor came from St. Regis, Quebec; Gibeau/Cheney came from Lacolle, Quebec, Hance came from St. Mathias/ St. Jean, Quebec, area; Hoague may have come from the St. Dominique/St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, area; and Obomsawin came from St. Francis/Odanak, Quebec). Standard genealogical research starts in the present and works back through time, documenting each preceding generation. By doing this, the petitioner should be able to identify its ancestors who may have been contemporaries and living in a community.
The petitioner needs to provide an analysis of documents which it claims contains the names of members or ancestors of members, including a list of members or ancestors of members shown in each document. If the identity of a person on the list is uncertain or incomplete, such as having only initials, or the wrong initials, or naming a person identified on another document in a different place at the same time, the petitioner should include in its analysis supporting documents or information to substantiate the identity of the claimed member or ancestor named in each document.
Although documents submitted by the SSA provided evidence indicating that 8 of the petitioner's current members may in fact descend from one Indian ancestor (Simon Obomsawin) who appears to have been an Abenaki Indian living at St. Francis (Odanak), Canada, in the late 19th century, and 16 of the petitioner's current members may in fact descend from a second Indian ancestor (Jean Charles Nepton) who appears to have been an Abenaki Indian living in Roberval Township, Chicoutimi County, Quebec, Canada, at about the same time, no primary or reliable secondary documentation was submitted or located that adequately identified any of the other 18 claimed ancestors as descending from or belonging to a community of Missisquoi Abenakl or Western Abenaki Indians residing in Canada, Vermont, or elsewhere prior to their appearance in the Swanton, Vermont area.
As stated in Procedures Establishing That an America Indian Groups Exists as an Indian Tribe:
For most groups, ancestry need only to be traced to rolls and/or other documents created when their ancestors can be identified clearly as affiliated with the historical tribe. (U.S. Federal Register 2/25/1994, Vol. 50/38, 9288)
About 10 percent of the individuals named on the SSA's current (2005b) membership list (section A-1 and Children labeled C-1) and database cannot be connected to parents or spouses, much less to distant ancestors. Therefore, family charts, showing names of spouses, parents, and children are vital information in documenting the lineage of the petitioner's membership to the claimed historical tribe. Ensuring that members are entered in the group's genealogical database, along with their ancestors and descendants, provides OFA researchers the necessary information to conduct an analysis of the petitioner's claims. Where possible, the petitioner should submit vital records, which are critically in understanding the ancestry and genealogical relationships of group members. The petitioner should also submit evidence that persons on the membership list have affirmatively consented to be included in the petitioner's membership (see 25 CFR 83. 1, "Member of an Indian group").
The entity claimed by the SSA as its historical tribe is the "Missisquoi Band of Western Abenaki Indians." There is no primary or reliable secondary evidence in the record that the petitioner's claimed ancestors (specifically the 20 "primary" ancestors discussed above) descended from such a tribe. Nor is there evidence in the record that any of the SSA's current members descend from individuals named on historical documents which list Abenaki, such as the mid-18th century register of Fort Saint-Frederic (Roy 1946, 268-312), the 1765 Robertson lease (Robertson 1765.05.28), or the censuses or pay list for St. Francis (Odanak) Indians in Canada (Recensement du Villages 1873; Recensement du Villages 1875; Indian Distributional Pay List 1893.04.14), with the possible exception of the 8 current members who are descendants of Simon Obomsawin. "Determination" of Abenaki descent by the "Chief' or "Tribal Council," as specified in the group's governing document, is insufficient to document descent from a historical Indian tribe.
Criterion 83.7(e)(2) requires that
the petitioner must provide all official membership list, separately certified by the group's governing body, of all known current members of the group.
Memberships Eligibility Criteria
As defined in the SSA's current governing document, dated February 25, 1996, members must document direct descent from "an Abenaki family listed on the 1765 James Robertson lease" or "be a person of Abenaki descent as determined by the Chief and Tribal Council" (SSA 2005, 1996 constitution).
Membership Application Process
The petitioner has not submitted documentation of the methodology for enrolling members. The minutes and correspondence of the petitioner's "Tribal Council" do not contain any mention of the governing documents or ordinances being used to determine membership. The minutes do show votes by the tribal council to accept members as well as disenfranchise members in 1977 and 1978 (SSA Minutes 1977.02.21, 1; SSA Minutes 1977.11.28,1; SSA Minutes 1978.03.21), but the names of the individuals were redacted or were not recorded. The minutes do not show a vote by the tribal council to certify membership lists.
Documentation of Descent
The documents submitted by the petitioner do not demonstrate how its membership meets the group's own membership criterion. However, the regulations under criterion 83.7(e) do not require that a petitioner's members meet the group's membership criteria, only that a petitioner's members "descend from a historically Indian tribe or from historically Indian tribes which combined and functioned as a single autonomous political entity." The documents submitted by the petitioner do not demonstrate that its members descend from such a historical Indian tribe.
Termination or Severance of Membership
The petitioner's current governing document (SSA 2005) briefly addressed procedures for voluntary resignation from membership, causes for temporary and permanent expulsion, and removal from the "Tribal Roll or List." Reference is made to "resolutions" and "statutes" regarding these tissues, but no copies of such documents were submitted by the petitioner.
The petitioner has submitted three membership lists: one dated December 19, 1995, and received by BAR on Januarys 17, 1996, one undated (126.) and received by OFA on May 16, 2005 (see detailed description below), and the third one dated August 9, 2005, and received by OFA on August 23, 2005. For purposes of this PF, the first membership list will be referred to as the 1995 list, the second memberships list will be termed the 2005a list, and the last will be designated the 2005b list. They are all incomplete; that is, they do not meet the regulations as defined under criterion 83'7(e). The 1995 membership list is not certified and does' not contain the full residence address for all members and maiden names for married female members. The 2005a membership list does not contain the full birth date or residential address for all members, and does not contain the maiden names of married female members. In addition, the 2005a list is not separately certified, as required by the regulations under criterion 83.7(e). Finally, the 2005b membership list does not contain the full birth date or residential address for all members and it is not separately certified. These technicalities may be corrected for the FD.
The 1995 membership list contained 1,257 names of adults and children, including 7 double entries and 1 triple entry, making the corrected total membership 1,248. This list was composed of 51 pages with columns headed Last (name), First (name, sometimes with middle initial), Address (mailing), City, State, Zip, Band (membership number), DOB (date of birth), Maiden (name), Father, and Mother. The 1995 membership list was not dated and no information was provided concerning the circumstances which list was compiled.
The 2005a membership list contained 4,753 names distributed into sections as shown below.