-moz-user-select:none; -webkit-user-select:none; -khtml-user-select:none; -ms-user-select:none; user-select:none;

Friday, November 12, 2010

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 75 to 81:

No people represented a mobile, uncontrolled social group in Vermont better first two subjects of the Eugenics Survey investigations—the "gypsy" than the first Eugenics investigations—the  and "pirate" families. Principally of Abenaki and French-Canadian ancestry, the "gypsies" moved freely about a wide part of the state, almost entirely outside mainstream economy and society. The "pirate" families were equally mobile, taking their canal-barge houseboats to points up and down Lake Champlain where they might live unmolested. (Dann 1991:14).

He did not provide any, citation for the source of this information. Moreover, Kevin Dann's article did not suggest that the Abenakis needed to conceal their identities as a result of the survey, nor did he suggest that the Abenakis were a primary target of the survey. However, these ideas evolved to take that form in the 1998 Vermont History Kit and Wiseman's publications (Davis Affidavit, Attachment A:13-15 ).
Nancy Gallagher's comprehensive history of the Eugenics Survey of Vermont did not independently verify any particular eugenic focus on Abenaki families. Gallagher stressed Henry Perkins's and the survey's interest in French Canadians (Gallagher 1999:45, 73, 95-97). Her only references to Abenaki subjects of the survey were based on representations by Moody and Dann (Gallagher 1999:81, 201-02, fns. 17-18). Commenting on the "gypsy" families that the petitioner claims are Abenaki, Gallagher observed that the survey's "genealogical research had traced their origins to early-nineteenth-century immigrants from Quebec" (Gallagher 1999:81). However, she repeated the assertions of John Moody that "recent research by the Abenaki people has revealed that Perkins and Abbott's Gypsy Phillips family were indeed Abenaki families" (Gallagher 1999:81). She should have stuck with the genealogical evidence: these families were French Canadian (Davis Affidavit, Attachment A:8-16).
Both Kevin Dann and Nancy Gallagher were led to believe that the "gypsy" Phillips family was Abenaki, but there is no evidence of Abenaki descent in any of the families in the Eugenics Survey of Vermont's records themselves (Davis Affidavit, Attachment A:8-16). Only an independent
search of genealogical records for proof of Abenaki heritage can substantiate such a claim. The gypsies of the first annual report of the Eugenics Survey were a composite drawn from pedigrees two and four (Dann 1991:10). There are a few miscellaneous references (among several thousand pages of records) to Indians in the Eugenics papers. However, not a single one of the references identifies the individuals as Abenaki. Rather, the very few individuals who are identified as Indian appear in the Phillips family file, and they are associated with other tribes—Kickapoo or Caughnawagha Mohawk (Davis Affidavit, Attachment A:10).
As for the "pirate" family—pedigree 3—the Jeromes, the only possible Indian is
Minnie Champagne, who married into the family, but did not have any children with her Jerome husband. Furthermore, petitioner seems not to claim any descent from the Jeromes, since there are no members of that family in the Family Descendancy Charts submitted by petitioner to the BIA in 1995.
So one wonders why Kevin Dann and Nancy Gallagher concluded these were Abenaki families.They had to have some other source—probably John Moody (and or Judy Dow). His influence on Kevin Dann's writing was alluded to in this statement from a letter Dann wrote to Gordon Day: John Moody "is going over my manuscript with fangs bared" (Dann 12/l/1989). And, as noted above, Nancy Gallagher relied on John Moody (and Judy Dow) as well. However, since neither Nancy Gallagher nor Kevin Dann analyzed John Moody's genealogical material or evidence of Abenaki ancestry, they had no way to verify his representation to them that these subjects of the Eugenics Survey were Abenakis.
The St. Francis family was not one of the primary families surveyed by the Eugenics Survey, but it is included in the files as an incomplete pedigree. That St. Francis family is not identified as Indian in the records. The specific family histories of the St. Francis family list the family

as "French." There is also a general reference to a French settlement in Swanton. One informant refers to "the St. Francis Indians," which he describes as a "French and Indian mixture" (Eugenics Survey of Vermont [1926-1930]a).
Abenaki advocates such as Wiseman claim that the Eugenics Survey described
Indians as gypsies or basketmakers as a proxy for calling them Indian directly. Supposedly this is because the surveyors did not recognize them as Indian, due to their cleverness at hiding their identity. However, it is hard to believe that Henry Perkins would have been blind to Indians in Swanton and surrounding areas if these were really the people his project was surveying. Perkins was the son of Professor George Perkins, state geologist, state naturalist, and state entomologist "Vermont's greatest nineteenth-century answerman" (Dann 2001:191 ). Moreover, the senior Perkins was an authority on Indian remains, and took his son to archeological sites (Perkins, G. 1873, Gallagher 1999:15). Not only that, but the Perkins family went on camping retreats in the Vermont wilderness in Swanton in the 1880's (Gallagher 1999:15). If there were Abenakis in Swanton at the time, surely Perkins would have known of it and not confused them with French Canadians when he conducted his study years later.
The Eugenics Survey papers themselves offer another explanation for the absence of Abenakis. These basketmaking people who are now claimed to be Abenaki may be nothing of the sort. The survey papers reveal that the Phillips family (pedigree 4, gypsies) had no basketmaking heritage; rather, they learned to make baskets from a Frenchman while living on the poor farm in the Peacham-Danville area of northeastern Vermont (Eugenics Survey of Vermont [1926-1930]b).
Actually, this is a POSSIBLE ERROR, on the part of studying the Eugenics Record documents themselves. It is my understanding, that it was the Way and Woodward Families (in part) that were actually SAID to be the people "who learned to make baskets from a Frenchman, while living on the north Peacham Poor Farm," according to the Eugenics Records documents. Whether the "Frenchman" was "French," or a man, who appeared to be "French," or whether he was an "Indian" or an "Abenaki" who spoke French, is up to debate as well. It really doesn't matter. Not just "Indians" or "Abenakis" made brown ash baskets for selling to tourists, and farmers within N'dakinna (New England) throughout the 1800's and into the 1900's.
Yet, being able to do basketmaking does not necessarily make a person into an "authentic" Abenaki, nor does it make a "person an "authentic" Abenaki simply for learning to speak the Western Abenaki Language either (Bruchac's, Gould's, Pouliot's etc).
Again, these are (afore-mentioned) people who were NOT BROUGHT UP WITHIN AN ABENAKI COMMUNITY , who are NOT RECOGNIZED by an legitimate Abenaki Community, nor are they genealogically connected to the Abenakis or to any known historical Abenaki Community.
These people ARE CONNECTED to each other, by way of their created Incorporations, that these people, today (since 1976), now claim are "Abenaki Communities," "Abenaki Tribes" or "Abenaki Bands," in their agenda and endeavors to gain State-Legislature-Sanctioned "Abenaki Recognition" for their Incorporations, their "members" and for themselves!
The fact that some of the ancestors of the people in today's Abenaki community
appear in the Eugenics Survey papers could be (1) because their families were French Canadian, or (21) because they intermarried with French-Canadians and became so closely identified with them that they adopted the French Canadian community as their own.
Based on the material made available by the BIA to the State of Vermont under the Freedom of Information Act, the State submits comments on the evidence for Criteria (a), (b), (c), and (e). Because of privacy exceptions to the Freedom of Information Act, the State has not been able to see the membership criteria or membership lists of the petitioner.
Therefore, it is impossible to comment on the evidence provided by petitioner for Criteria (d) or (f).

Criterion (a) requires that petitioner have "been identified as an American Indian
entity on a substantially' continuous basis since 1900" (25 C.F.R. 83.7(a)). The regulations specifically call for an examination of the petitioners and their ancestors through the lens of outsiders. They state, the "evidence to be relied upon determining a group's Indian identity" needs to be "evidence of identification by other than the petitioner itself or its members" (25 C.F.R. 83.7(a)). Self-reporting of the existence of a tribal entity does not satisfy this criterion. Indeed, "the criterion is intended to exclude from acknowledgment those entities ... whose Indian identity is based solely on self-identification" (59 Fed. Reg. 9280, 9286 (Feb. 25, 1994)). Examples of permissible identification are listed in the
regulations and include federal, state and local governments, anthropologists, historians, and other scholars, newspapers, books, and other Indians tribes. Inherent in this criterion is the requirement that the identification be of the group as an entity, not individual people. The BIA's 1991 comments on the proposed revisions to the federal rules governing acknowledgment demonstrate this. Language was added in section 83.7 "to emphasize the fact that the criteria are applicable to the identification of tribal entities, not individuals" (56 Fed. Reg. 47322 (Sept. 18, 1991)). The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the same thing in an opinion that stressed the "fundamental distinction between the political classification of groups as Indian tribes and the racial classification of persons as Indians" (United Houma Nation v. Babbitt, 1997 WL 403425 (D.D.C. 1997). *6). It is not enough, said the court, for a group to be comprised of individuals of Indian descent. they must also be tied together as a tribal entity. It summed up by noting that miscellaneous Indians do not make a tribe" (United Houma Nation v. Bibbitt, 1997 WL 403425 (D.D.C. 1997), *6).
In order to obtain federal acknowledgment as a tribe, the petitioning group must have retained enough of an Indian identity that is recognizable and identifiable as an Indian entity to outsiders continuously from 1900 to the present. Full assimilation into the surrounding society will disqualify it from federal acknowledgment. The federal courts have reiterated this concept:

When assimilation is complete, those of the group purporting to be the tribe cannot claim tribal rights. While it might be said that the result is unjust if the tribe has suffered from federal or state discrimination, it is required by the communal nature of tribal rights. To warrant special treatment, tribes must survive as distinct communities .... the district court specifically found that the appellants had not functioned since treaty times as "continuous separate, distinct and cohesive Indian cultural or political communit(ies)." (United
States v. Washington, 641 F.2d 1368, 1373 (9th Cir. 1981), cert. denied, 454 U.S. 1143 (1982)).

If a group is not distinct enough to be viewed as separate and different from the rest of society, then it no longer has a separate identity as an Indian tribe.
Connected with the continuous identification of the tribal entity by outsiders is the requirement that the tribe be a continuously existing one—not a group that formed in recent times. The comments on the proposed rules (adopted in 1994) reiterate this (56 Fed. Reg. 47321 (comment on Section 83.3 Scope)).
BIA decisions illustrate how various types of evidence are evaluated under this criterion. The case of the MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe is a good example. The evidence sought and examined in that case came from many Sources. Federal census records were searched, vet none of the ancestors of the group was identified as Indian in those records (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:6). Local and regional histories of the relevant counties in Alabama were examined, but the MaChris were not identified as a group in any of them (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:6, 14). Scholarly works on the Creek Nation did not refer to the MaChris group (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:6). A locally and regionally known historian did not know that an Indian group had survived in the area, despite the fact that he had conducted extensive research on the early history of the region (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:24-25).
The group was not mentioned in any newspaper articles until 1983 (BIA MaChris
Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:6, 14). Other sources consulted and referenced by BIA researchers were military and veteran pension records. Again, none of them designated the individuals as Indian (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:12). The
BIA also found it significant that student researchers "traveled throughout Alabama in search of remnant Indian groups, but did not discover any reference to the MLACIT or its individual members" (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:14). In sum, the MaChris did not appear in any records as an entity until 1982. There was no evidence to link them to the Creek Indians who were removed from the area in 1838. This gap in identification disqualified them from federal acknowledgment (BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:2, 6).
The evidence of external identification of the St. Francis/Sokoki Abenaki presented in the petition is scant. It contains absences as, glaring as those in the MaChris case. Instead of providing detailed citations to external observations of the group as an Indian entity, petitioner devotes ten pages to its theory as to why the Abenakis of Vermont have been invisible in the records (Petition: 145-154). Most of the examples of identification that are listed pre-date 1800 (Petition: 145-146, 153). The very few items provided in the petition after 1900 are for individuals, not for a tribal entity.
In contrast, the social science record is replete with comments by external observers on the absence of Abenakis from Vermont. These materials are presented below and analyzed in light of the guidance provided by BIA decisions. For ease of manageability, the material has been divided into five time periods: 1900 to 1929, 1930 to 1947; 1948 to 1973; 1974 to 1981; 1982 to the present. The evidence demonstrates that external observers did not identify any Indian entity in northwestern Vermont from 1800 until 1974, when the present group formed. This represents a gap of nearly one hundred seventy-five years.

Search This Blog