Countervailing Evidence that the Missisquoi Did Not Return to Vermont as a Tribe After 1800
As pointed out above, the weight of the evidence cited by the petitioner in favor of its case for continuity of Missisquoi settlement and community is questionable given the ambiguities in the material and the amount of guessing necessary to interpret it. The speculative conclusions that the petitioner draws from the scarce evidence it cites must be viewed in context. There is a large body of evidence that indicates that during the nineteenth century there was no continual presence of any Indian tribe in the Missisquoi, or elsewhere in northwestern Vermont This evidence includes journals of travelers, surveys of Indians, town histories, and census records..
Travelers. Historians. and Surveyors of Indians
There were a number of travelers and contemporary historians who wrote about
Vermont during, the nineteenth Century. Some of these individuals took a specific interest in Indians, whenever they encountered them. The fact that they never came across a community of Indians in northwestern Vermont along Lake Champlain is significant. One of the earliest of the journals is that of Edward Augustus Kendall relating his travels in northern New England during 1807, 1808, and 1809 (Kendall: 1809). He devoted six chapters of the book to Vermont. He appeared to have more than a passing familiarity with the northwestern part of Vermont and the lake. He wrote of the beauty of the landscape between Burlington and St. Albans, having "passed this road more than once, both in summer and in winter," and
30. " He writes, "The word Michiscoui is of the Indian tongue, but of French orthography. By the English, it is sometimes, but illiterately, spelt Missisque" (Kendall 1809:276).
31. He writes, "upon inquiry, of the Indians of Saint-Francis, both for the true name and signification, I found them agreed in calling the river Miskiscoo, Miskiski, for Missi kiscoo, which they interpret them calling the river abounding in waterfowl" (Kendall 1809:276).
32. This may be the Malacites.
33. These Indians are described as living on the St. Johns River, which is in Maine. This is quite distant and should not be confused with the town and fort of St. Jean/St. John on the Richelieu River in Quebec.
written in the nineteenth century which could be expected to at least mention the Abenakis if they were still functioning as a community. For example, Francis Smith Eastman's A History of Vermont, From its First Settlement to the Present Time, published in 1828, stated that the original inhabitants of Vermont were the Coos Indians. He wrote about some of their cultural practices, but made no mention of the Missisquoi as a tribe indigenous to Vermont or continuing to live there (Eastman 1828:16-20). Eastman also recounted the claims made by the Caughnawagha Indians of Canada for land in Vermont 1798. Again he did not relate this to any Indians living in Vermont at the time of his writing (Eastman:78-79).
Training one's eyes closer, on a local level, leads to Hamilton Child's Gazetteer and Business Directory of Franklin acid Grand Isle Counties, Vt., for 1882-83. Child included a short history of the "aboriginal occupancy" of these two counties ill his book. He recognized the presence of Indians in Franklin County—the county in which one finds Swanton and the Missisquoi region—in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but observed that they did not maintain settlements in more recent times. He wrote:
A branch of the Abenaquis tribe were the aboriginal Mal occupants of this section of the country; and, indeed, they lingered upon their rightful soil, at the mouth of the Lamoille along the river, and thence north along the Missisquoi bay, for a long time after the French and English had taken possession of the country to the north and south of them....[I]n 1755, the northern parts of Lake Champlain were in the possession of the St. Francis tribe of Indians, who wintered there in large numbers and subsisted by hunting and fishing; and as late as the time of the Revolutionary war, a branch of this tribe had a village at Swanton, consisting of about fifty huts, with a church, Jesuit missionary, and had some land under cultivation. (Child 1883:38).
Going on to note the abundance of arrowheads found near Franklin pond, he wrote of many tribes having contact with the area:
neither this nor any other locality in the State seems to have been the Redman's home, at least not with historic times. Vermont was rather a territory to which all laid claim, and was used in common as a hunting, fishing, and battle-ground, by the St. Francis tribe on the north, their principal settlement being at Montreal, or Hockhelaga, as it was then called; the
Perry's history of Swanton included one contemporary Illustration of the Indians.
After stating several times that the Indians of Missisquoi had retreated to St. Francis, "their principal centre," he wrote in 1863 that "a few from time to time have been, & are still, in the habit of visiting their old home" (Perry 1863:240-42). During these visits, he described them"liv[ing] for the most part by making baskets, moccasins, and trinkets, by hunting and by hunting fishing, as well as by an indifferent cultivation of the soil" (Perry 1863:242). Thus Perry knew of Indians, but they were visitors. There was no continuous community inhabited by Indians in Swanton; rather there were Indians from Quebec who traveled through to sell their wares.
Federal Census Enumerations
Besides the surveyors and historians who looked for Indians and wrote local histories, there were government officials examining the populace. Vermont has never conducted any censuses of its own, 34. but the federal census materials are broken down by state and county in compilations that analyze the data. The federal censuses from 1860 onward used the category "Indian" as a race in the enumerations. The census identified only 20 individuals as
34. The petition states that it drew on the state census for some material. but this is impossible (Second Addendum:6). There never has been any Vermont state census (Eichholz 1993:20-22).
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Census 1864, 1872, 1894, 1901, 1922, 1932, 1943. 1952, 1961, 1973, 1982, 1992.
For 1910 census, this figure is for counties other than Addison, Bennington, Caledonia, Chittenden, Franklin, Orleans, Rutland, Windham, or Windsor.
+ For 1950 census, this figure is for counties other than Chittenden.
++ Foreign born figures are not available for all years. When given, they are included in the figures for counties, not in addition to them.
For 1880 census, no county breakdown is available.
For 1940 census, no county breakdown is available.