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Monday, November 8, 2010

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 41 to 48:

swayed by recent scholarship that itself relies on unsubstantiated claims in the original petition.

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
indicated that he "had occasion to pass through this part of the country of Lake Champlain a second time, in the middle of the year 1808, and again in the beginning of that of 1809" (Kendall 1809:276, 293). Moreover, Kendall wrote that "[I]n June, 1808, I was two days upon the lake, making a circuitous voyage, between Saint-John's, or Fort de Saint-Jean, [Quebec,] and Burlington" (Kendall 1809:293; see map above, p.6). He even traveled to "Swanton Falls, a cataract on the Michiscoui...[which] empties itself in a large bay, to which it gives its name" (Kendall 1809:2)76). Kendall wrote of meeting Indians at St. Francis, Quebec, and Indians in Maine, but made no mention of any in Vermont (Kendall 1809:66-St. Francis—not from any 69). He learned the meaning of Michiscoui, 30. from the Indians at St. Francis Indians in Vermont, apparently having encountered no Indians in Vermont. 31.
In 1822, Jedediah Morse was given the task of ascertaining the number of the various tribes in the United States for a government report. He compiled an extensive list and enumeration of Indians throughout the Country entitled Report to the Secretary of War of the United States on Indian Affairs, Comprising a Narrative of a Tour Performed in the Summer of 1820. He found "Abenaquies" In Maine, but listed no Indians of any sort in Vermont (Morse 1822:67). His statistical table identified Indians in New England in enclaves as small as 40 "souls" (Morse 1866:361-74). Any group of Indians functioning and holding itself out as a tribe should have received notice, so it is significant that there was no mention of any as a tribe Abenakis in Missisquoi, let alone elsewhere in Vermont.
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).
Samuel Drake, an avid student of "Indian History" undertook to "locate the various bands of Aborigines, ancient and modern, and to convey the best information respecting their numbers our multifarious sources will warrant" in his comprehensive survey of Indians published in 1845 called The Book of the Indians: or, Biography and History of the Indians of North America, from its First Discovery to the year 1841. He was a sympathetic observer of Indians, taking pains in the Preface to his book to criticize the wrongs done to the Cherokees (Drake 1845:v). He identified the "Abenakies" as "over Maine until 1754, then went to Canada; 200 in 1689; 150 in 1780" (Drake 1845:v). In his detailed list of 465 Indian groups in the United States he included specific Abenaki groups such as the Penobscots, Marachites, 32. St. John's, 33. and Wawenoks (Drake 1845:v-xii). He did not detect any Missisquois or Vermont Abenakis.
One of the foremost authorities on the Indians of the nineteenth century was H.R. Schoolcraft. His six-volume tome, Historical and Statistical Information on the Indian Tribes of the United States (1851-54), was prepared under the direction of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It was an extensive study of the numbers, location, and status of Indians at the time. None of the tables in Schoolcraft's work indicates the presence of Missisquois or Abenakis in Vermont. None of the references to the Abenakis located them around Lake Champlain in the mid-nineteenth century when he was writing. Instead, he described them as "[a] tribe of Indians formerly inhabiting the territory which now comprises a part of the States of Maine and New Hampshire" (Schoolcraft 1851-54:vol. III, 512). He wrote that the
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.
Abenakis are now "seated at the village of St. Francis" in Quebec. He said the territory they inhabit is "situated on the south of the St. Lawrence, between the St. John's of New Brunswick and the river Richelieu, Canada" (Schoolcraft 1851-54:vol. IV, 542). The only explanation for his failure to detect any Abenakis in Vermont must be the lack of any identifiable Indian community there at the time. Schoolcraft was familiar with the region and had spent a considerable amount of time there. He was born not far from Vermont, in Albany County, New York, and he attended Middlebury College in western Vermont. He spent time at Trois Rivieres, Montreal, and Caughnawagha learning the Mohawk language in the 1790's. His interest in Indian Culture was strong and sympathetic, and he was married to a Chippewa woman (Nichols 1954:1521). If there was a large Abenaki community at Missisquoi at that time, as petitioner claims, then one would expect Schoolcraft to be aware of it, since he was very familiar with the surrounding areas.
In addition to these national surveys of Indians, there were histories of Vermont
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).
A few decades later, S. R. Hall wrote The Geography and History of Vermont (2nd ed. 1868) as a textbook for students. An entire lesson was devoted to the history of the Indians and their interactions with the white settlers from 1609 through 1761. In this section, Hall stated "the Iroquois owned the land in the west part of Vermont, and once had numerous habitations on the lake and on the rivers that flow into it. Indians from the Cossack and St. Francis tribes frequented other parts, rather as hunting ground than as a place of permanent residence" (Hall 1868:100).

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
Narraganset on the east, with their principal settlement on the Merrimac river; the Pepuquoits on the south, inhabiting the northwestern part of Connecticut; and the Iroquois, or Mohawks, as they were commonly called, on the southwest, their principal settlement being at Schenectady, N.Y., on the Mohawk river. (Child 1883:38).

This narration demonstrates that the late nineteenth century observers discerned no contemporaneous Indian residents in Franklin or Grand Isle Counties. There was no obvious community of Indians remaining, there in the late nineteenth century.
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).
Indian in Vermont that year, and none were in Franklin County (U.S. Bureau of Census 1864:493). The enumerations for the following three federal censuses were similar. There were fourteen, eleven, and thirty-four individuals identified as Indian in the respective censuses of 1870, 1880, and 1890 (U.S. Bureau of Census 1872:68, 1901:561, Table 19).
Table 1:
Summary of Indian Population in Vermont
as Shown in Federal Census Reports
1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920
(See Document Image Page 48 for details)

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.

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