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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 170 to 179:

claims money, providing allotments, or other purposes" (25 C.F.R. 83.7(e)(1)(i)). Although there are no rolls of Abenakis maintained by the State of Vermont or the United States government, there do exist two historic land documents, three historic Canadian rolls, and one petition to the Canadian government: Robertson's Lease, the Durham, Quebec, land grants, 1832, 1873 and 1875 censuses of the Abenakis of Odanak/St. Francis, and an 1842 petition to Canada. To determine whether the current members are descendants of the historic Missisquoi tribe, we compared the names on these historic lists of known Abenaki Indians with the names of the ancestors shown on these charts. Not a single name matched. 78.
The first document examined was Robertson's lease, dated 1765 (Day 1981b: 68). This is the only known list of Abenaki Indians in Missisquoi. None of the twenty Abenakis listed in that lease appears in the 1995 Family Descendancy Charts of the petitioner. Despite this, the 1986 Petition Addendum asserted that: "Genealogy linking eight Central, Small and Ancestral families in the present community directly back to Robertson's lease have emerged from the data" (Petition Addendum: 3 26-27). As support for this claim, the petition cited the family histories provided in "Section V," which were contained in Addendum C (Petition Addendum:iii; 327, n. 1472). However, Addendum C was apparently never provided to the Branch of Acknowledgment and Research (U. S. Bureau of Indian Affairs 10/23/2001). When genealogies were finally provided to the BIA, in the form of the Family Descendancy Charts in 1995, no indication of any connection to Robertson's Lease was indicated in any of the family charts. In fact, four families that were listed in the Petition Addendum as having
78. This analysis, and those that follow, was based on the names that were disclosed in the charts in response to the Attorney General's Office request under the Freedom of Information Act. Obviously, names of living individuals were redacted from the 1995 Family Descendancy Charts. This had no effect on the analyses, since we made the comparison based on ancestors of living members, not the current members themselves.
genealogies linked "directly back to Robertson's lease" are not even included in the revised genealogies of present-day petitioner: LeDoux (Peckenowax), Mitchell, Crapo, and St. John (Compare Petition Addendum:327, n. 1472 and Family Descendancy Charts). Apparently, the contention that the present-day families can be traced to Robertson's Lease has been dropped. , perhaps because there was no real evidence to support it
The second document examined was the 1805 grant of land in Durham, Quebec, to the Abenakis who had lost their lands at Missisquoi (Canada, Indian Affairs 1805, 79. Day 1981b:60-61; Charland 1964:175-76). If the Missisquoi Abenakis left Vermont at the time of the American Revolution and sought refuge in Canada among their kinsmen at Odanak./St. Francis, then their names should appear in this grant. However, none of the grantees shows up in the Family Descendancy charts of petitioner
In 1832 a census was conducted by the Canadian authorities of the Abenaki village at Odanak/St. Francis (Canada, Indian Affairs 1832). It listed the names of the heads of households. In 1842 the Abenakis of Odanak/St. Francis sent a petition to the government of Canada. This petition was signed by the chiefs and warriors of Odanak (Canada, Indian Affairs 1842). Since the migration of petitioner's ancestors to Swanton did not really start in earnest until the 1830's and continued slowly through the 1940's, these lists should show the names of Abenakis who had not yet left Odanak. A comparison of the names on these two lists with the Family Descendancy charts reveals no matches. The surnames do not even correspond, except for the Obomsawins. 80.
79. The title given to the documents in the file is "Saint Francois Agency Correspondence Regarding an Abenaki Woman's Claim to a Lot in Durham Township as Part of Inheritance, Forty Years Later," and it includes a copy of the 1805 Durham Grant.
80. The only other name that is somewhat similar is that of Hannisse, which one might imagine could be the same as Hance. However, the Family Descendancy Chart for the Hance family does not
The next available lists consulted were two censuses of the Abenaki village at
Odanak conducted in 1873 and 1875 (Canada, Indian Affairs 1873, 1975). Although these lists are late in some ways, they are unique in that they include specific identification of the members of the Abenaki tribe who lived in the United States. Thus, if there was an Abenaki family that was temporarily living in the United States, or had recently moved there, it should show up on this list. None of the Abenaki Indians listed as residing in the United States corresponds with any on the people on petitioner's Family Descendancy charts.
Moreover, since a number of the families in the Family Descendancy charts did not migrate to the United States or settle in Swanton until the late nineteenth century, there should be indications of those families on the 1875 census of residents of the Odanak/St. Francis reserve. A check of all the names on the 1875 census again came up empty: none of them appears in the petitioner's charts as ancestors of the present day group. The inescapable conclusion from these comparisons is that the current day petitioner is not descended from the historic Missisquoi tribe of Abenaki, or from the Abenaki at Odanak/St. Francis. Without evidence of descent from documented lists of Abenakis, the petitioner cannot establish proof under Criterion (e). This same deficiency undercut the Nipmuc claim for acknowledgment (BIA Nipmuc Nation (#69A) 2001:207).

Petitioner's Family Charts Do Not Include Anyone Identified by Federal Census as Indian From 1870 to 1910
There is another way to examine the evidence. It is to check to see whether the
individuals identified as Indian in Vermont in the federal census records are ancestors of the
80. (continued) present any evidence of this connection. Furthermore, the petition claims that the Hance family derives its name from Annance (Petition Addendum: 343).
petitioner. The names of the heads of Indian households enumerated in the 1870 federal census areas follows:

COWIN, William

JACKSON, Dennison



LIGER, Lewis


(U.S. Bureau ofthe Census, Index 1870). Even giving latitude for misspellings, none of these names shows up in the Family Descendancy Charts.

A review ofthe 1880 federal census for individuals identified as Indians in Vermont reveals the following names:

JACKSON, Dennis, Salina, Edward, Fred, Henry, and Nellie

EMORY, Josiah and Lucy

KOSKA, Franklin and Franklin

BOMSAWIN, William and Mary

(U.S. Bureau ofthe Census, Index 1880). None ofthese names shows up in petitioner's Family Descendancy Charts. 81.
There is no index of the 1900 or 1910 census, so it was impractical to comb the microfilm records for all counties looking for the individuals identified as Indian. The
81. William and Mary Obomsawin do not show up in the petitioner's Family Descendancy Charts. Only Simon Obomsawin appears there, and he did not come to the U.S. until the early twentieth century.
summaries of the 1900 census gave no Indians in Franklin or Grand Isle counties (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1901). Since any other Indians listed would not be part of the community in northwestern Vermont, there was no reason to search for their names. Limiting the search in 1910 to Franklin County, 82. the following names appeared as one household:


Frank head 33 Vermont Fr. Canada Vermont
Nellie wife 22 Fr. Canada Ireland Fr.Canada
Susan daughter 7 Vermont Vermont Fr.Canada
Francis daughter 5 Vermont Vermont Fr.Canada
Lillian daughter 5 mos Vermont Vermont Fr.Canada

Edward grandfather 92 Canada-Indian Canada-Indian Canada-Indian

(U.S. Bureau ofthe Census 1910). The grandfather, Edward Hances, corresponds pretty closely with the Antoine Edward Hance who is progenitor of the Hance line in the Family Descendancy Charts. However that Family Chart submitted by petitioner in 1995 includes no grandchildren with the surname Roberts. So, even if this Indian family lived in St. Albans in 1910, it did not keep in touch with the petitioner, and is not a part of the petitioner's alleged tribal group.
82. There were no Indians listed in the summary tables for Grand Isle County in the 1910 U.S. census.
Petitioner's Other Lists From Censuses Are Speculative
We can also examine the self-created lists that the petitioner compiled from the U.S. federal census records in Vermont to test this conclusion further. The federal censuses prior to 1860 did not use a separate code to indicate Indian race in their enumerations. However, the petitioner extracted the names of those it thought were Indians by making assumptions based on similarity of names or occupations (Petition:62-65). This method is not entirely reliable. It is not enough to simply match a surname and thereby claim descent: "Name recognition is not sufficient evidence on which to base one's ancestry" (BIA Southeastern Cherokee Confederacy 1985a:65). Nonetheless, petitioner listed the names of the individuals who it believed were Abenakis in Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. In the 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840 lists of names provided by petitioner in its 1982 submission there is not a single one who appears as an ancestor in the Family Descendancy Charts supplied in 1995 (Petition:62-65, Davis Affidavit, Attachment AA-5).
At first glance, the 1800 census appears to reveal one possible match in John Moritz. (Petition:62; Family Descendancy Chart, John Morits line). However, the 1800 census only lists heads of households. The John F. Morits who is shown as a progenitor in the Family Descendancy Charts was born in 1790. He would have been only 10 years old in 1800—not old enough to be the head of household. So, these cannot be the same person.
The petitioner expanded its lists of Abenaki names from the 1800 census in its 1986 submission. Whereas the 1982 petition listed five and fifteen families in 1800 and 1810 respectively, the 1986 material listed 38 and 96 families which petitioner contended were Indian (Petition: 62-63; Petition Addendum: 28-34). There are also some curious changes between names from the censuses submitted by petitioner in 1982 and 1986.
For example, in 1982 petitioner asserted that the following were Abenaki names found on the 1800 census:

Simon Bumson, North Hero

John Battis, Middle Hero

Nathan Canance, Highgate

John Moritz, Highgate

(Petition:62). In 1986 petitioner did not list any of those names as Abenaki. Instead, its greatly expanded list of names found on the 1800 census included the following:

Simon Burnson, North Hero

Nathan Canard, Highgate

John Minels, Highgate

(Petition Addendum: 30). This is just one example of the transformation of names that occurs throughout the petitioner's submissions. It plants considerable doubt over the reliability of petitioner's lists of "likely" and "confirmed" Abenakis extracted from the census (Petition Addendum:26). One wonders which list is a correct transcription of the census documents. Is the absence of John Moritz from the 1986 submission a realization that he is really John Minels? Or, is his absence due to a discovery that he is not Abenaki, or not even the same John Morits as the one listed as a progenitor in the Family Descendancy Charts.
All these questions are compounded by the fact that a comparison of the "likely" and "confirmed" Abenaki names on the 1986 Petition Addendum from the 1790, 1800, and 1810 censuses with the names in the 1995 Family Descendancy charts once again turns up no matches. There is simply no evidence that the families of the petitioner descended from the
people who they claim were Abenaki Indians living in northwestern Vermont at the beginning of the nineteenth century (Davis Affidavit, Attachment AA-5).

Petitioner's Evidence of Indian Births is Contradicted by the Original Records
As part of its evidence of Indian identity and ancestry, petitioner included a list of twenty individuals who it claims "are all identified as mixed or Indian-White in the Swanton birth records during the first two decades of this [twentieth] century." (Petition:211, Appendix E (listing births from 1904 to 1920)). John Moody made a similar statement regarding the same time period, though he claimed there were thirty such individuals (Moody 1979:64). An examination of the original birth records in the Swanton Town Clerk's Office belies both these claims.
Births in the State of Vermont during this time period were reported on standard
forms provided by the state. The forms required that the child's color be indicated by striking out words from a list of choices, leaving only the applicable color or race. The list was comprised of the following five choices: White, Black [Negro or mixed], Indian, Japanese, and Chinese. In some instances the person filling out the form drew a separate line through each inapplicable word; these are clear markings and unambiguously indicate the child's race. In other cases the person used a slanted line to strike through two or more colors at once; the intention of the recorder in some of these is not always obvious. The information on many of these birth records was provided by the child's father; only a few indicate a physician as the informant. Each form includes a place for the informant to sign, thereby certifying the accuracy of all the information provided. Copies of the twenty birth
records for all of the individuals in petitioner's list are included in the State's Exhibits (Swanton, Vermont, Town Clerk 1904-1920).
Although petitioner asserts that all of the twenty births listed in its Appendix E were identified as mixed or Indian-White in the Swanton birth records, the original birth certificates for eight of them unmistakably identify the individuals as White. Another five of the twenty birth records do not identify the race or color of the individual at all: they either crossed out all colors or crossed out none. That leaves only seven of the twenty as possibly identified as Indian-White because of the way in which the lines were drawn through the list of colors. Only four of these are individuals who appear in the petitioner's Family Descendancy Charts; the other three are unrelated to the petitioner and are thus irrelevant. So petitioner's attempt to prove Indian ancestry through twenty birth records from 1904 to 1920 really amounts to only four birth records that appear to indicate Indian-White race.
However, even for these four individuals, the assertion that they definitively have Indian ancestry is exaggerated. That is because the birth records of these individuals' siblings from the same time period clearly indicate their race as White. Two examples illustrate this. One is the birth record of Olive Cota. Seen in isolation, this record suggests she is Indian-White. However, the records of six of her siblings born during in the eleven years following her birth unmistakably indicated their race as White. Moreover, the children's father signed three of these records himself (Swanton, Vermont, Town Clerk 1904-1920).
The same is true of Emma St. Francis. While the person filling out Emma's birth record may have meant to cross out both Black and Indian with one small vertical line drawn on the form, he did not draw the line fully through the word Indian. Therefore, one could argue, as petitioner does, that the informant intended to leave both the words Indian and
White untouched, designating the child as Indian-White. To better determine which was intended one can examine the Swanton birth records for three of Emma's siblings (Swanton, Vermont, Town Clerk 1904-1920). All three ofthe siblings born in Swanton in the three years immediately following Emma's birth have records clearly indicating their color as White. Two of these birth records list the father, Michel St. Francis, as the informant. Those two records have clear horizontal lines striking through the inapplicable races, leaving no doubt that the child's color is reported as White. This bolsters the conclusion that the person filling out Emma's birth certificate did not draw the line quite far enough through the word Indian, even though he meant to. Taken together, this evidence strongly implies Emma St. Francis was White. And indeed, that is how the handwritten copy of the birth record appears in the state's central repository of Vital Records in Middlesex, Vermont (State of Vermont, Public Records Division 1904-1941).
The following table summarizes the markings on the twenty birth records listed in petitioner's Appendix E, along with information from the Swanton birth records of those individuals' siblings from 1904-1920, information found in the state's central depository of Vital Records, and the petitioner's Family Descendancy Charts.

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