Document 01: Letter to the late "Chief" Homer St. Francis, Sovereign Republic of the Abenaki Nation P.O. Box 276 in Swanton, Vermont 05488 from Benjamin L. Huffman, Policy Analyst. Dated July 06, 1998. Dear Chief Homer St. Francis: At the request of Senator Vincent Illuzzi, I am sending you an itemization of state appropriations from the annual capital construction act for activities concerning Native Americans.....Sincerely Benjamin L. Huffman, Policy Analyst. Copy to: Senator Vincent Illuzzi - Thomas Torti, Commissioner of Buildings and General Services - Emily Wadhams, Director, Division for Historic Preservation.
Document 02: Dated July 17, 1998. Chief Homer St. Francis, Even though the Perservation Trust of Vermont may have independant information about possible funding sources for your projects, Mr. Bruhn can provide you with a name and address for the Freeman Foundation. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors to secure your own building and create a Native American Museum in the Swanton area. Sincerely, Senator Vincent Illuzzi, Chair, Senate Institutions Com. Tel: 1-800-322-5616 Email: VILLUZZI@LEG.STATE.US
cc: Gus Seelig, Executive Direcotr, HCTP - Paul Bruhn, Executive Director, Preservation Trust of Vermont - Senator Julius Canns.
Document 03: Article dated May 06, 1998 Caledonian-Record Newspaper entitled "Abenakis Prepare For Busy Summer" EVANSVILLE - The weekend of May 9-10, will mark the beginning of a busy summer for the Clan of the Hawk of the Western Abenaki Indians.
At 2:00 p.m. on May 9, Jerome "Jerry" Kelly, former Deputy Commissioner of Agriculture and longtime student of Abenaki history will give the first in a series of four lectures titled "Abenaki History and Culture in the Northeast Kingdom." It will be held at the Clan's Pow Wow grounds on Route 58, four miles north of Orleans.
"In the last 25-30 years there has been a tremendous amount of new work in anthropology, archaeology, ethnography, linguistics and historical scholarship that has given us a new insight into the Native American presence here in Vermont, " says Kelly.
"What few current residents of the Northeast Kingdom fail to realize, " he continued, "is the area we live in has been the home to Native Americans for more than 11,000 years. I think anyone who numbers Native Americans among his forebearers or just has an interest in the area's history will find the story interesting, entertaining and educational".
Kelly will use a number of Abenaki items to illustrate his lecutre and these items - some of them quite valuable - will be given away to audience members in a draw.
The resident medicine man, Little Fox (Lester Barrett), will be available to visit and answer anyone's questions. Chief Spirit Water (Ralph Skinner Swett a.k.a. "Chief Lone Cloud") will explain to those interested about how to join the Clan of the Hawk and the group's present and future goals.
There is no charge for admission and the public is welcome.
In addition to the remaining three lectures whose dates will be announced in the near future, the Clan of the Hawk has scheduled a number of events that will run throughout the summer and into early autumn.
On July 25, the Clan will hold its first ever craft show featuring products made by its craft Cooperative. The Coop was formed last year to perpetuate craft skills that were in danger of dying out.
A week later on August 1-2, the Clan will host its 7th annual Pow Wow, which is open to the public.
Document 04: "Indian Crafts Help Revive Native Culture" By PAT ORVIS Special To The Express Newspaper. A small but impressive crafts show held by the Abenaki Clan of the Hawk at its grounds along the Willoughby River in Evansville on Saturday gave a preview of coming attractions which are scheduled--together with a few surprises--for the clan's seventh annual international pow-wow there next Saturday and Sunday, August 1 and 2.
The dozen exhibitors who attracted an estimated 300-400 visitors last Saturday included, for example, former deputy commissioner of agriculture Jerome Kelly of Orleans, whose gemstone jewelry sells in stores at market prices. Kelley also lectures on the 8,000 years of Native American history in the Northeast Kingdom, including his own "four-sixteenths or five-sixteenths" of Abenaki blood from both sides of his family.
"There's a sixteenth that's not quite accounted for," Kelley quipped, as he quoted an extremely friendly price for a visiting journalist for a pair of amethyst earrings. He said he became interested in his Indian ancestry when he ran away at 17, to join the Canadian Army, became an officer, and found he had several Mickmack Indians serving under him.
Also on Saturday, Wayne Hurlbut of Brownington showed his handcrafted canoes, canoe seats and snowshoes and shared a booth with his son Donald, an archer who was selling his original arrows, hand-tooled quivers, paddles, camp chairs and other work in wood and leather.
A retired master bricklayer, the older Hurlbut worked as a foreman on many well-known sites around the state, including the Benedictine Monastery of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Westfield, and the University of Vermont's gymnasium and field house. He also worked on the massive development in Arizona, and dredged gold in California.
Deborah Girard of Jay displayed her jewelry and delicate dream catchers, and a range of other artisans, drummers and assorted performers showed their wares or strolled around the grounds, many of them wearing striking Native American dress which they had also made.
"You have to realize that one year ago many of these people didn't know they had any talent," Ralph Swett, who was known to the clan as Chief Spirit Water, observed during a telephone interview later.
"Many of them were down and out and didn't believe they could do anything," continued Swett, who owns the Evansville Trading Post and has been a prime mover in helping his clan relearn its ancient crafts and culture. "It's a wonderful thing that's happening here."
Swett also described the clan's new full-sized authentic pow-wow drum, which was constructed by clan members Little Oak (Leon Smith) and Broken Antler (Scot Girard) and will be played for the first time next weekend.
It's a "real, old fashioned Abenaki drum," the chief explained, with a fram of local white swamp cedar covered with "real honest-to-God moose hide." It measures 30 inches across and a foot in depth and required the hides of two moose-shot "legally," he stressed, last season by local hunters.
The frame was made by "an old Abenaki chief" from New Hampshire named Grey Wolf. Another Abenaki came from St. Albans to supervise construction and, since "all Native American drums have names," according to Swett, this one will be called "Blue Moose."
Also new, at 1:00 p.m. next Saturday, the clan will name State Senator Vincent Illuzzi (R-Orleans and Essex) its first honorary chief.
As always, said Swett, the public is invited free of charge to the pow-wow (though a nominal donation is encouraged). It will start at 11:00 a.m. both days and run until 5:00 p.m. Besides more crafts, the event will also feature teepee demonstrations, a sweat lodge, tomoahawk and knife throwing, dancing, food and other traditional activities.
But even before they enter the pow-wow grounds (just off route 58 East), Chief Spirit Water promised, visitors will begin to hear the "deep rumble of Blue Moose--like distant thunder."
Document 05: Photograph dated July 27, 1998 in the Newport Express Newspaper. "Jerome Kelley, Vermont's former deputy commissioner of argiculture, was one of the exhibitors at the Abenaki Clan of the Hawk Craft Show in Evansville last Saturday. Over 300 people attended the event, a preview of next week-ends seventh annual pow-wow. (Photo Courtesy of Pat Orvis)
Document 06: Hail To The Chief. Dated August 03, 1998. (I think this article was in the Caledonia Record Newspapers in Caledonia County, Vermont).Vermont Senator Vince Illuzzi , center, was made an honorary chief, assuming the name Chief Fighting Wolf, at the Evansville Pow-Wow held this weekend. He was honored by Chief Spirit Water (Ralph Swett, left) and member of various Native American groups. (See more photos, story Page Nine by Pat Orvis) (Photo - Travis Lamberton).
Differing Opinions May Stall Proposed Native Recognition Amendment
Written by Jedd Kettler
Friday, 29 February 2008
The County Courier
MONTPELIER: Without some compromise, two differing proposals could well spell the end of hopes to address concerns this year with Vermont’s current Native recognition law before the end of the current legislative session.
The cutoff point for proposed legislation to move from one state legislative body to another - “crossover” - is March 14. Sen. Vince Illuzzi - who has championed State recognition for Vermont’s Abenaki in the past and
has worked this year to move forward a fix to the current State law - cautioned this week that without compromise soon, there is little chance of legislative action to fix gaps in Vermont’s law before the end of the biennium.
Illuzzi’s Senate Economic Development Committee will hear testimony tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 29, 2008. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. in Room 10 of the Statehouse. Without agreement, a solution will most likely have to wait until a future session, he said on Monday. “What I’ve said to them is that we cannot pass a bill that upsets as many as it pleases,” Illuzzi said. “Everybody’s got their positions and they’re well-reasoned, and I respect their positions ... Right now, it’s up to the different groups to come to some consensus.” One current proposal is based on the work of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, which has been reworked by Illuzzi and legislative council. This proposed amendment would establish a process and criteria by which tribes and bands in Vermont would apply for State recognition to allow artists and craftspeople to label their work as Native.
The other was proposed by leaders from the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Missisquoi Abenaki and the Koesek Traditional Band of Abenaki as an addition to the VCNAA’s proposal. In addition to the criteria and process laid out by the VCNAA, this would recognize specifically the St. Francis/Sokoki and the Koesek bands and grant each band two members on the VCNAA.
(Isn't that like the FOX guarding the HEN HOUSE?!)
On Monday, Feb. 25, 2008 the VCNAA reiterated their support for the current criteria and process amendment, but not other additions. Commissioners wrote a letter to Illuzzi on Monday, stating, “The (VCNAA) has been working for almost two years to figure out how S.117 can help all Abenaki people ... It is our goal to have a fair
and transparent process for all Abenaki people to follow. We do not want to be part of any bill that will exclude people from having a choice and an opportunity to apply.”
Chief April St. Francis-Merrill of the St. Francis/ Sokoki band (INCORPORATION)said this week that the proposal she and members of the Koesek band (INCORPORATION) have put forward simply adds onto the VCNAA proposal by
specifically recognizing the two longest-standing bands (INCORPORATIONS) in Native Abenaki homelands.
These groups deserve direct recognition both within the amendment and on the VCNAA, she said.
Like the St. Francis/Sokoki, the Koeseks are a group in a historical homeland - along the Connecticut River - and they should be recognized as such, St. Francis-Merrill said. YET, GENEALOGICALLY THEIR ANCESTORS AREN'T EVEN FROM VERMONT OR NEW HAMPSHIRE! The St. Francis band, centered in Swanton, led the fight for Abenaki rights and recognition in the State since the late 1960s and early 1970s (1976), long before other current bands were formed, she added. Yet, April St. Francis-Merrill has been in communication and in collusion with these other "groups" all along. “The State spent a lot of money trying to discredit the Missisquoi, and did they spend any money discrediting any of these other groups?” St. Francis-Merrill said. “I feel the Missisquoi St. Francis/Sokoki has already bent over backwards to document ourselves to the State (B.S.) We’ve had to prove that since we’ve been dealing with the State in the early ‘70s.”
VCNAA Chairman Mark Mitchell (also connected to the St. Francis/Sokoki, Inc. group and married into the Larocque family) said this week that the Commission has worked hard to keep an open process since beginning work on the arts and crafts recognition issue nearly two years ago.
“We support an open process for all to participate. This (VCNAA) proposal is our solution to a complicated issue,” Mitchell said. “We’ve looked at it as an open process and it’s certainly an important issue ... I respect everyone’s opinion and I understand their frustration ... Can the community rally around consensus before that point?”
State recognition is distinctly different from the federal recognition that establishes a tribe as a sovereign entity and in some cases has led to casinos in other states. There are currently no Vermont groups seeking federal recognition.
I CALL THIS
"OFFICIAL STATE RECOGNITION" FROM EITHER VT OR NH'S LEGISLATURE'S OUGHT TO START WITH THESE INCORPORATED GROUP'S CONNECTION TO HISTORICAL NATIVE COMMUNITY, GENEALOGICALLY-SPEAKING.
IF THESE GROUP'S HAVE THE SOCIAL, HISTORICAL AND GENEALOGICAL EVIDENCE WHICH SUPPORTS EACH OTHER......
GENEALOGY SUPPORTS THE ORAL HISTORY....
ORAL HISTORY SUPPORTS THE GENEALOGY....
SOCIAL HISTORY SUPPORTS BOTH THE GENEALOGICAL EVIDENCE AND THE ORAL HISTORY....
AND THESE GROUPS CONNECT TO HISTORICAL NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY....VIA THEIR GENEALOGICAL EVIDENCE....
BUT THEY DON'T HAVE THE EVIDENCE.
THEY REFUSE TO SHOW AND PROVIDE THEIR GENEALOGICAL RECORDS, THEIR FACTUALLY SUPPORTED ORAL HISTORIES, THEIR SOCIAL HISTORIES OR THEIR HISTORICAL RECORDS.
EVEN THE B.I.A. SAID THE ST. FRANCIS/SOKOKI LED BY APRIL MERRILL HAD NOT PROVEN THEY WERE ABENAKIS
THE B.I.A SAID THIS GROUP, THE ST. FRANCIS/ SOKOKI BAND OF ALLEGED MISSISQUOI INDIANS, HAD NOT SUBSTANTIATED THAT THEIR GROUP WERE EVEN INDIANS....
BASED ON THE EVIDENCE THAT WAS SHOWN AND PROVIDED BY THIS GROUP....
THE "ABENAKI CIRCUS" IS KNOCKIN ON THE VERMONT AND N.H. LEGISLATURE'S DOOR'S....
UNLESS THESE GROUPS FIRST, WTIHOUT HESITATION OR PROTEST, SHOW AND PROVIDE CLEAR AND CONVINCING EVIDENCE HISTORICALLY, SOCIALLY, ORALLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY GENEALOGICALLY THAT THEY CONNECT TO THE ABENAKIS...
DO NOT OPEN THAT DOOR