An article on page 15 of the paper gave a detailed description of Indian relics found Swanton Village, but again made no mention of any present-day Indian inhabitants. The town was obviously proud of its Indian history. The fact that "Swanton is rich in Indian history and is the mecca for relic hunters" was listed alongside the fact that it boasted four railroads and an electric streetcar line, a live Board of Trade, and several thriving businesses (Swanton Courier 12/4/1913b). These were all included on a list of Swanton's notable features in a column meant to boost support for the town. (Swanton Courier 12/4/1913c). These articles do not provide evidence to satisfy Criterion (a), rather they support a negative finding on that issue (BIA Ohlone/Costanoan Muwekma Tribe 2001:5; BIA Nipmuc Nation (#69A) 2001:85).
The petitioner does not cite any newspaper articles that give contemporary twentieth century descriptions of Indians in Vermont during this time period. In fact, the petitioner admits that its ancestors were not identified as Indians in the local press until the 1970's (Petition: 154).
Swanton Birth Records
The only evidence of external identification cited in the petition for 1900 to 1929 is a few birth records in Swanton that petitioner claims indicate the individuals are Indian or Indian-White (Petition: 147). Examination of the actual records does not confirm this. Most of the records actually indicate no race or "White" for the children. These are analyzed in detail in the section Criterion (e): Petitioner's Evidence of Indian Births is Contradicted by
1930 to 1947
External Observations Silent on Existence of Any Contemporary Abenaki Tribe
In 1934, Gladys Tantaquidgeon presented her survey of New England Indians to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. She identified nine tribes in the New England states of Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Her report does not mention a single group in Vermont (Tantaquidgeon 1934).
The 1930's was also the time period during which Elin Anderson conducted her research on ethnic groups in Burlington (Anderson 1937). Anderson's primary tool was a set of questions that were posed orally to individuals in Burlington. During the interviews, the surveyors asked for the respondents' perceptions of fourteen other ethnic groups: French Canadians, Irish, Americans/Yankees, English Canadians, Italians, Jews, Germans, Syrians, French, Scottish, Greeks, English, Scandinavians, Chinese, and Negroes (Eugenics Survey of
Two documents reveal the absence of any Indian identity in the 1940's. One is the chronology of Vermont prepared by the Vermont Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration in 1941. It included the following entry for 1856: "Last native Indians in state leave Bellows Falls 54. for Canada. November" (Richmond 2/ 10/1941; see also Works Progress Administration 1937:83-84).
The other is a series of articles entitled "Growing Up in Vermont" published in the Swanton Courier in 1941 and 1942. These articles mentioned some of the petitioner's ancestors by name but included no designation of them as Abenaki or even as Indian. The series was written by Walter Scott at age 74 and described Swanton and its inhabitants when he was a child growing up there (Swanton Courier 1941-1942). He mentioned the following individuals from petitioner's genealogy:
54. Bellows Falls is a village in the town of Rockingham in the southeastern portion of the state along the Connecticut River.
his (Walter Scott) next door neighbors, Dannie and Mattie Colomb
Date of Article: August 14, 1941
William Morits, a beggar
Date of Article: October 23, 1941
Duck Brow, who worked in the meat market
Date of Article: October 30, 1941
Salina Freemore, aunt of William Greenough, posed as model for a marble statue;
Date of Article: November 13, 1941
In assessing evidence under Criterion (a), the BIA has rejected scenarios that depict only scattered individual Indians such as that shown here. The evidence necessary to satisfy Criterion (a) would identify an Indian entity viewed by outside observers as a coherent Indian group (BIA Ohlone/Costanoan Muwekma Tribe 2001:12).
Four years after Gilbert's report the Smithsonian's Bureau of American Ethnology
published John Swanton's The Indian Tribes of North America (1952). This tome was a comprehensive compilation of information on all the known Indian groups in North America. In it Swanton recognized the historic Abenaki group in Vermont, stating that "[a]n Abnaki band known as the Missiassik was at one time settled on Missisquoi River in Franklin County" (Swanton 1952: 18). He said that the main body of Abenakis was located in Maine, with the Mississiak representing a "late intrusion" into Vermont (Swanton 1952:13). He observed that all of them "finally withdrew to Canada where they were settled at Becancour
Sturtevant and Stanley were well aware of the difficulties they faced in undertaking this study. They pointed out that:
It is much more difficult in these states than elsewhere to define the term "Indian" and to identify Indians....At one extreme are communities which fit all the usual criteria of Indianness: self-identification, distinct cultural characteristics including the survival of an Indian language among at least a "conservative" nucleus of the group, obvious Indian biological ancestry (at least among a significant proportion of the population), existence as a among separate well-bounded rural community, and a tradition of derivation from a historic tribe which is accepted by all observers—by lay members of both Indian and non-Indian communities, and by scholars. At the other extreme are a few groups who are rural social isolates suffering from discrimination by the majority of their neighbors, but not accepted as being Indians by these neighbors and of whom it is not known by scholars whether they themselves claim Indian ancestry, nor whether they exhibit indentifiable [sic] Indian biological characteristics.
Between these extremes are many groups with intermediate characteristics. (Sturtevant & Stanley 1968:15-16).
The authors then proceed to present a table summarizing available data on "Eastern Indian or possibly Indian communities" (Sturtevant & Stanley 1968:17).
When anthropologists and ethnologists actively seek Indians in Vermont and fail to uncover any tribal entities, the scales tip against fulfillment of Criterion (a). (BIA Webster/Dudley Band of Chaubunagungamaug Nipmuc Indians (#69B) 2001:84, BIA Webster/Dudley Band of MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:14).
In addition to anthropologists on the national scene looking for Indians, there were local researchers addressing the task. The person who did the most to uncover information about Abenaki history in Vermont during the 1950's was John Huden. Huden held a doctorate from Yale University and was an educator who served as president of Castleton Teachers' College and Professor in Education at the University of Vermont. In the 1950's he conducted research on Indians in Vermont (Vermont Historical Society 11/1959). Huden's article "Indians in Vermont—Present and Past," revealed his knowledge of the presence of Indians in the Vermont of his day. He wrote:
Huden frequently asked people at public meetings and social gatherings, "How many here have any Indian blood?" From these "spot checks and other evidence obtained in follow-up interviews" he learned of people in Vermont with "strains of Abnaki [sic], Montauk, Mohegan, Pequot, Wampanoag, Penacook, Narragansett or other tribal sanguinary fluid" (Haden 1955:25). However, he did not discover any active Indian communities through these conversations. While he wrote about individuals with varying amounts of Indian ancestry and knowledge of their background; he observed no tribal entities. This undercuts any positive finding on Criterion (a). (BIA Ohloiie/Costanoan Muweknia Tribe 2001:12).
Huden's interest in Indians and his role as a board member of the Vermont Historical Society led to Stephen Laurent's address to the Society in 1955. Stephen Laurent was introduced as the "hereditary chief of the Abenakis" of Odanak/St. Francis, as he was the son of Chief Joseph Laurent (Laurent 1955). Laurent was born in 1909 at Odanak, and came to live year-round in northern New Hampshire in 1940 (Boston Globe 6/2/2001). In Laurent's Vermont address, he made no mention of any Indian communities existing at that time.
Huden's further studies of Abenaki place names and history led him to conclude that "our Indians fled to Canada," from Vermont around 1760 (Huden 1956a:23-24). He