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Friday, November 5, 2010

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 17 to 24:

centred in St. Francis as the parent community. (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment C, 2).

As Day observed, some Abenakis moved back to St. Francis to join their relatives in this 1763-1775 period, though this movement became much more significant after 1775 (Day 1973:55). James Robertson's lease of 1765 is one example of Abenakis leasing land to the English and moving away. The fact that this lease of land at Missisquoi is for 91 years suggests that the Abenakis had no immediate intention of returning to use the land (Day 1973:55). John Moody's contrary reading of the lease is tenuous at best (Petition:38). While the lease may indicate that not all Abenaki families departed at once, there is no doubt that at least some of them left in 1765: otherwise, they would not have been relinquishing their land for 91 years. The real significance of Robertson's lease is that it is the only existing list of names of Missisquoi Abenakis prior to the 1970's.
Also in the year 1765, Moses Hazen sought a grant of land on the Missisquoi River from the British Governor of Lower Canada (Quebec). The petitioner points to the refusal of the Governor to approve this grant as an indication that the Abenakis had not left the area (Petition:37). However, the actual letters of the Governor's secretary are not so clear. Secretary Goldfrap called off the survey in order to ascertain whether the lands belonged to Indians or not. He wrote to Lieutenant Scott, who was stationed at Montreal, on March 29, 1765, as follows:

His said Excellency and Council accordingly ordered a Warrant of survey Directed to the Surveyor General in the usual Form, since which information has been Received that the Lands so petitioned for, are the property of an Indian Nation Inhabiting near Montreal, it is therefore Desired that you will make ample Inquiry of the said Indians, or of any other people touching their pretention thereto... (Goldfrap 3/29/1765)(emphasis added).
13. The petitioner acknowledges the fact that there are no historical lists of members of the Missisquoi Abenaki (Petition: 169).
There is nothing in that correspondence that identifies the owners of the land as  Abenakis. 14. Rather than confirming that Indians were living on the Missisquoi in 1765, this letter raises the possibility that the land belonged to Indians who formerly belonged on the Missisquoi, but had since left and were then living near Montreal. Alternatively, it suggests Missisquoi could be found near Montreal, raising the possibility that the political center of that Indian group was based near Montreal. Thus the Indians referenced by that correspondence could be the Caughnawagha Mohawks, 15. either in their own right or as spokesmen for the Seven Nations, which included the St. Francis Abenakis.
In September 1766 the British Governor of New York 16. and the British Governor of Quebec met at Isle la Motte to settle the boundary between them. Also present were representatives of the Caughnawagha and Missisquoi Indians. As the petitioner explains, the Caughnawaghas spoke to secure their hunting rights around Lake Champlain, but then the Missisquoi Indians spoke as well. They said:

We the Misisqui Indns. of the Abinaquis or St. Johns Tribe have inhabited that
part of Lake Champlain time unknown to any of Us here present without
being molested or any ones claiming any Right to it to our Knowledge, Except
abt. 18 Years ago the French Govr. & Intendt. came there & viewed a Spot
14. Haviland & Power overstate the evidence, perhaps because this section of their book is not based on their own research (Haviland & Power 1994:239). Rather, as they state in the bibliographic notes, [f]or events following 1763, we have relied almost exclusively on Moody (1979) and data from the Abenaki petition [for federal acknowledgment] ( 1982) and its addendum (1986), much of which were gathered by Moody" (Haviland & Power 1994:301).
15. The Caughnawagha (or Kahnawake) Mohawks were Catholic Mohawks who broke away from the communities of the League of Iroquois tribes (MacLeod 1996:xi). They established the village of Kahnawake on the St. Lawrence River in Canada, along with the village of Akwesasne, which was also known by the name of its mission, St. Regis. These villages were part of the Seven Villages, or Seven Nations of Canada which included the following: the Iroquois of Akwesasne, Kanestake/Oka, Kahnawake. Oswegatchie, the Abenakis of Odanak, and Becancour (W8linak), and the Hurons of Lorette.
16. Vermont was a part of New York at that time.
convenient for a Saw mill to facilitate the building of Vessells & Batteaux at St. Johns as well as for building of ships at Quebec... (Johnson vol. 12:173).

The Missisquois expected the French to leave after the Seven Years' War, but instead "some English people came there to rebuild the Mill, and now claim 3 Leagues in breath & we don't know how many deep wch. would take in our Village & plantations by far" (Johnson vol. 12:173).
The petitioner stresses two aspects of this statement. First, petitioner emphasizes the length of habitation by the Missisquois on Lake Champlain (Petition:39). They had been here a long time at least since the late seventeenth century—and that was certainly "time unknown to any of Us here" when they spoke one hundred years later in 1766. However, that statement says nothing about the gaps in continuity that would occur in the following century as the English settlers took over more and more of the area.
The other point petitioner makes is that there is confusion in the name of the group. Petitioner indicates that one version of this speech identifies the Missisquois as "of the Abinquis or St. Johns tribe," and another identifies them as "of the St. Francis or Abenakis Tribe" (Petition:40, Calloway 1990b:195). This confusion of names proves only that they were not regarded as an independent tribe. Both versions describe them as appendages of a larger Canadian tribe of Abenakis—based either at Odanak/St. Francis or St. John. 17. Petitioner asserts that in 1770 Missisquoi was still considered home to a group of Abenakis who were living at St. Regis/Akwesasne. In support it relies on the following living statement made to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, at a congress of Indians at German Flatts, N.Y. in July 1770:
17. St. John. or St. Jean, is on the Richelieu River in Quebec. See discussion below of Ira Allen complaining to General Haldimand of Indians being incited at St. Jean to harass the Americans in Vermont.
In 2 years time, we can find out another place, as we have land of our own, but it is now cut into pieces by the English, except a small piece. We shall go as soon as we have time to see whether the English have left us any; if they have we will move there and you shall never more hear of any dispute or trouble about us. (Petition:41, Day 1981 b:48, Johnson vol. 12:845).
Contrary to the petitioner's view, this passage only generates more questions: where is this "land of our own," and if there was still an Indian community there, what was its condition? As Professor Dickinson notes, this statement is not necessarily "an indication that Missisquoi was considered their territory"  (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6).
The group of Abenakis who made that statement had fled to St. Regis for protection among the Mohawks after Rodgers' Raid on Odanak/St. Francis in 1759 (Frisch:1971). Day's analysis led him to argue that these refugees may actually have been Schaghticokes who had been living with the Abenakis at Odanak/St. Francis (Day 1981b:47, 64, Calloway 1990b:197). The Schaghticokes, he explained, would have been more comfortable with the St. Regis Mohawks from their prior associations with the Iroquois (Day 1981b:47). The statements made in 1770 on which petitioner relies came in the wake of intense disputes that arose between the Abenakis and the Akwesasne/St. Regis (Frisch 1971:27). After several requests by the St. Regis Mohawks for the British to remove the Abenakis from their village, the British instructed the Abenakis, and their white French interpreter John Jacob Hertel, to leave.
Petitioner concedes that no one has confirmed where the Abenakis (or Schaghticokes) went when they left St. Regis (Petition 41). Day found no evidence that they moved as a band to either Odanak/St. Francis or Missisquoi (Day 1981 b:48). There is evidence that many went to Cornwall Island, south of St. Regis in 1771 (Johnson vol. 8:2114). Calloway says that from there they were eventually absorbed into the Mohawk community (Calloway,
1990b:200-01). Thus, the fact that they claimed to have "land of their own," did not mean they returned to it and re-established a village there. Indeed, they had said that they needed to check on that land, because it had been carved into pieces by the English.
Also, it is not entirely clear where the land referred to in the above statement is
located. The July 1770 statement itself does not say (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6). Calloway and Day suggest that a fragment of a letter from Col. Daniel Claus to Sir William Johnson indicates that the land was at Missisquoi (Calloway 1990b:200, Day 1981b:48 citing Johnson vol. 7:897). This fragment, in a letter of September 1770, reads as follows:

Mr. Hertell says he did not carry the french Answer to the Abinaquis, but that
[   ] essential as Your last Reply upon their asking [   ] two years time allowd them to establish themse[Ives  ] Misisqui, and their house finished at St. Regis [   ] they say you granted, I should be glad to have of it as son as possible that I may acquaint [the Augh]quiasne Indns. wth. The Truth of ye Matter. (Johnson vol. 7:897)

While the missing words could lead to more than one reading, it is quite possible this passage only means that they hoped to establish themselves at Missisquoi during the next two years, not that there was a sufficiently stable Indian Community there to absorb them at the time. And, since Johnson did not allow the Abenakis to stay at St. Regis another two years, they may never have carried out their plans.
So, while the Abenaki population at Missisquoi was somewhat stabilized from 1763 to 1775, there was also a general increase in British settlement. This meant more conflicts with the British over land.
18. One version could be: "Mr. Hertell says he did not carry the french answer to the Abinaquis, but that [it was not] essential as your last Reply upon their asking [for yet] two years time allowd them to establish thems[elves anew] at Misisqui, and their house finished at St. Regis which they say you granted, I should be glad to have [word] of it as soon as possible that I may acquaint [the Augh]quisasne Indns with the Truth of ye Matter."
Abandonment of Missisquoi During American Revolution
The last period in the description of Abenaki movements in the eighteenth century is that of 1775-1800, marked by the American Revolution. Most scholars who have written about the Abenakis of Missisquoi state that they withdrew from Vermont during the American Revolution (Calloway 1990b:214, Haviland & Power 1994:241, Day 1981b:57, 65; 1973:55, Perry 1863:202-03, Barney 1882: 1000).
The big question is whether a significant number of Abenakis stayed behind at
Missisquoi when the bulk of the village moved. This is interwoven with the question of how many Abenakis lived at Missisquoi at the start of this period. The petitioner's use of inflated figures bolsters its argument that large numbers of Abenakis remained at Missisquoi after the Revolution (Petition:43-44, 51; Petition Addendum:316). The petition claims there were at least 1,000 Abenakis in the area in 1775 (Petition:44). Professor Dickinson sees no evidence of such large numbers and places the figure at no more than 500 (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6).
So how many Abenakis were at Missisquoi in the 1790? The petition makes the
exaggerated claim that there were at least 1,000 Abenakis centered in Northwestern Vermont from 1790 to 1860 (Petition Addendum:xiv). Abenaki tradition, as reported by Moody, says 50 wigwams (or 250 people) still remained in Swanton in 1790, but both Calloway and Day suspected this figure was too high (Calloway 1990a: 220, Day 1981b:57). Another account suggested 70 Indians in Swanton in 1793 (Day 1981b:57). Moody argued that a substantial suggested Indian population remained at Missisquoi, citing a 1779 map that shows an "Indian castle." However, Day disputed this: "in view of the well known tendency of cartographers to reproduce older information, we cannot take this as good evidence for an Indian population
there in 1779" (Day 1981b:55). Day said there were only about 20 Indians left at Missisquoi by 1786-1788 (Day 1981b:56).
Petitioner actually concedes that "the village at Missisquoi was abandoned," between 1794 and 1800. However, it argues that the Indian habitation continued inconspicuously (Petition, 49-50). This is the Abenaki justification for the lack of evidence of an Abenaki community in Swanton and the rest of the Missisquoi region for the following 200 years (Petition Addendum:307, 319-20). In sum, because the evidence indicates a shrinking Indian population at Missisquoi from 1776 to 1800, petitioner relies on claims of Abenaki invisibility as protection (Petition: 148-50, 154). Faced with the fact that the village was abandoned, petitioner argues that the infrequent and occasional references to bands of traveling Abenakis are indications that there were actually hundreds more living in the area.
On the contrary, it is more likely that these sporadic sightings were recorded precisely because they were unusual. Those travelers may actually have been visitors who no longer resided at Missisquoi.
With this overview in mind, an examination of the evidence and argument put forth by petitioner is in order. Petitioner's suggestion that only a dozen families moved to Odanak between 1775 and 1800 is misleading (Petition:51). The petitioner's suggestion seems to be a misreading of Day's observation that twelve family names at Odanak/St. Francis are traceable to Missisquoi (Day 1981b:56). 19. Day concluded that nearly fifty years after the American Revolution, there was clear evidence that the St. Francis Abenaki could be traced back to Missisquoi. Day's ethnographic and linguistic studies of Odanak/St. Francis further
19. "[T]here are at least a dozen recognizable Missisquoi family names in the 1829 census of Saint Francis, and it seems reasonable to assume that many of them came in the early years of the war."

demonstrate that the roots of the twentieth-century Abenakis of Odanak/St. Francis lie at Missisquoi (Day 1971:120-22).
In addition to retreating to Odanak/St. Francis, some Missisquoi Abenakis may have gone to the Upper Connecticut River valley, to Lake Memphremagog, or to Clarenceville, Quebec 20. (Calloway 1990a:75-76, 1990b:230-31, Haviland & Power 1994:241, Day 1981 b:56). However, these were not permanent locations for the Abenakis either (Calloway 1990b:231-33). In 1798, a group of Abenakis offered to sell their land at Indian Stream in northern New Hampshire to that state. The offer was rejected by the legislature but the land was sold to individual purchasers (Charland 1964:176, n.85). "The Bedel deed" in New
Hampshire and other land sales in the late 1790's indicated that many of the bands from northern Vermont and New Hampshire had removed to St. Francis by that time" (Calloway 1986:220). Large game had become scarce in northern Vermont and New Hampshire by this time, so the Indians moved northward (Calloway 1990b:231, Barry 1999:28).
The petitioner's reliance on baptismal records of Indians in Chambly, Quebec,
between 1775 and 1785 to confirm that Abenakis continued to live at Missisquoi is not dispositive (Petition:46). As Day pointed out, it is quite possible these were transients, not local residents (Day 1981b:55). Moreover, they could have been Abenakis living at Clarence[ville?], Quebec, not at Missisquoi (Day 1981 b:55 see also Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6). Day concluded that

[t]he numbers [sic] of Indians at Missisquoi after the Revolution appears to have been rather small .... This small number compared with the earlier
20. The idea of an Indian community at Clarenceville was floated by John Moody. However, he wrote that further work was "needed...to confirm the community's existence" (Moody 1979:46).
21. The land conveyed by the Bedel deed is located in northern New Hampshire and an area in Vermont east of Lake Memphremagog The signatories of the deed are not known to be Missisquoi Abenakis; rather they are Cowasucks (Calloway 1990b:231, Day, 198 lb:69).

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