This particular material was received in the same Judicial materials of the Arthur Marchand "Incorporation Protest Hearing" that was held between January 26, 1993 and late February or March of 1993 regarding Arthur J. Marchand of 126 Sterling St. in Worcester, MA created an Incorporation 92-351021 on December 16, 1992. In mid-November 1992 the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Office of Secretary of State at the State House in Boston, Suffolk County, MA did recieve several telephone calls from "concerned members of the "Abenak Nation" who protested the imminent formation of a non-profit corporation called Centraleastern Woodland Sokoki Band (Inter-Tribal) Corporation. Subsequently, on January 26, 1993 at 10:00 AM, there was a Hearing to decide the issue. Protesting by Homer St. Francis Sr., Howard F. Knight Jr, Paul W. Pouliot, Robert Maynard and Roger DeShanais (including numerous other persons who attended) who testified in person as well as wrote written protests etc. against the formation of afore-mentioned non-Profit Incorporation. Following the material already submitted and placed into this blog the following material documentation was within the Hearing material, obviously submitted by Howard Franklin Knight, Jr. of Newport, Orleans County, Vermont retrospectively-speaking, to bolster his position and claims.
NOTICE who were the primary submitters of "the information" that comprised this document material. None other than Howard Franklin Knight Jr himself, and John Scott Moody as well...and NO Historical Documentation was cited to substantiate the writer's statements, ONLY "word-of-mouth dubious questionable statements coming from John Moody and or Howard F. Knight, Jr., the parties involved." The following is definitively PUBLIC RECORD, and such written work is a matter of MA COURT HEARING RECORD, available to anyone. Of course, one would have to pay for the photocopying fees. This material will be posted in sections on this blog.
"....WITHIN THE BOUNDS OF A SUBSISTENCE ORIENTED CULTURE...."
(Scott E. Hastings Jr., 1982
Native Vermonts in the Miller Pond Watershed :
Heritage and Change
Katherine Botsford '81
This paper is not intended for publication, and is intended largely to satisfy my own desire to understand how the people, land and community interact in the area in which I am making my home, and to apply some of the anthropoligcal/ ethnolographic perspectives and approaches I have learned as an undergraduate at Dartmouth College--to a real life setting.
Besides the obvious logistical advantage of studying my own back yard, I also feel that it is important to study ourselves with the same approach as we would any other culture--i.e. critically and without prejudice. If there are any principles of culture, they must be equally valid for us as for exotic or primitive peoples. Likewise, the skeptisim with which anthropologists view native cultures ought to be equally applied to dominating cultures, such as our own. Finally one cannot assume that the dominant, emic ethos of a culture reflects its totality. In this paper, I have focussed on what possibly represents a minority, or at least a particularized pocket of a larger culture; yet I argue that it has a legitimate throug distinct role and ethos.
In this vein, I set out to observe a particular part of local culture, while attempting to fit the perspectives of this part into the larger whole of regional political, social, and ecological patterns. In particular, I wished to learn how Vermonter's most native inhabitants, the aboriginal Abenaki, have woven themselves into the local fabric and become part of or helped to create the Vermont of legend and reality.
Part of my intention has been to sort out the historical reality from the popular images of what makes Vermont Vermont, particularly as these apply to specific individuals and communities. I have attempted to sort out and expose conflicting images, simutaneously showing how these reflect the particular orientation of specific interest groups. The ideal "Real Vermonter" thus differs according to the individual vantage point of the observer/observed. At the same time, a historical perspective reveals that certain patterns of cultural interaction and ecological conflict have persisted over generations, suggesting that current problems can be understood as new versions of old conflicts.
My intention with this paper was to include a broad rand of perspectives, from historical writings to personal interviews and public discussions on current issues. I began this project by attending a lecture series held at the Bugbee senior center in Hartford, Vermont, in the spring of 1988, and sponsored by the Environmental Law Center at the Vermont Law School, entitled Community in Vermont-The Land and the People: Seeking a Vision for Vermont's Future. These discussions inspired by Joseph Bruchac and John Moody's presentation, entitled Vermont's Original Communities: Abenaki Indians. It was this and subsequent meetings with John Moody, a personal friend and anthropologist who has been involved with the Abenaki community for many years, which prompted and encouraged me to include the Abenaki piece of the region's culture and history. Most importantly, he put up with emotional distress. Without his openness, knowledge, dedication, and friendship over the years, this paper would have been impossible.
Additionally, I am indebted to Howard Knight, the present representative of the Thetford Abenaki community, for his extended conversations with me regarding specific details about local...
families and lore. I also wish thank Professors Huke, Alverson, Daniel, and Korey, as well as Katherine Donahue for the for their encouragement, assistance, and bibliographic suggestions, as well as my advisor, Sally McBeth, for her patience and openness to my explorations and approach. Cade Bursell offered me direction when I floundered. Finally, I should mention Marion Fifield, the Thetford historian, who helped me with Thetford sources and history.
Throughout the process of my research, I have been as much guided by uncanny serendipity and a persistent feeling of connection or discovery as any analytical or methodical approach. My whole approach has been perhaps unorthodox, as I chose rather to interact with people as friends, neighbors, peers and fellow participants in the process of living together, rather than as subjects of objectifying study. As such, I did not attempt to conduct statistically controlled, pre-planned interviews, nor did I use tape recorders. In most cases I did not mention being a student, and did not discuss my interest in writing a paper. After speaking with people, often over an hour or more, I took notes in my car, recording our conversations as best as I could. Therefore the quotes which appear in this paper represent the best possible reconstructions of the lanugage, but might have some verbatim errors. I do believe they represent the spirit of the communication.
To learn the views and perspectives of local people, often I introduced myself as a neighbor, which I am. At other times, I had a prior relationships with people which allowed my entry into their homes and lives. Because of this, the responses I received were spontaneous and honest reflections of people in process. They do not reflect pre-conceived, self-reflective thought patterns, but rather spur of the moment feelings and opinions. Since the people I spoke with were my own friends neighbors, the quotations and opinions expressed to me were offered on those terms; i.e. not as part of any official survey or conscious study, but rather as conversations spontaneously arising from the moment. Therefore, I have left the quotes anonymous, except where the speaker specifically knew I was a student. In other instances, the quotes are taken from public meetings, such as the lecture series mentioned above, as well as three meetings held in Strafford to discuss future growth in the town and the possibility of land trusts becoming an active force in controlling growth. In these cases, I occasionally did not know the names of the particular individuals speaking.
If one looks carefully, one finds in popular culture two sorts of "Vermonter" traditions. The first I refer to as the "classic farmer", the other I call the 'backwoods native". The first 'type' represents the values of farm, village, and civility which were imported from southern New England with the first white settlements. This is the image epitomized by the Sabre Fields cover of the Report of the Governor's Commission on Vermont's Future: Guidelines for Growth (1988), and which today meets the desires of newcomers seeking a pastoral, idealized refuge from urban areas. I believe this aspect of Vermont is being favored institutionally and politically and is represented as a 'native' culture and environment in need of state protection.
Certainly, farming and villages have been important parts of Vermont's culture; however in the Ompompanooosuck watershed, and elsewhere in the state, one find other "native Vermonters", who
Have at least or even more of a claim to the land and who have shaped the culture of the North Country in their own unique way. For instance, aboriginally, the area with the confines of the East and West branches of the river, was home to an Abenaki community1, and, I will show, continues to be so today, despite two centuries or more of "flatlander" invasions, economic and ecological changes, and cultural interchange. This community has played such a significant role in shaping the values and quality of life in the area, yet throughout history this group repeatedly finds itself institutionally excluded by the dominant culture. This group, along with other minority groups, such as French Canadians, have tended to form the backbone of Vermont's working class, and have survived through a variety of rural occupations.
Overall, native Vermont's despite their differences, nonetheless share a number of cultural and ecological relationships, which are a product of the land, their cultural heritage, and a relatively unindustrialized economy. Today, cultural survival has become an issue for both groups. As the local economy changes, one finds increasingly that wealthier and culturally different newcomers, referred to as flatlanders, flood the watershed area, bringing with them their own lifestyles, politics, and prejudices. This creates a new elite class, one seen by many natives as acting in detriment to Vermonters' traditional values.
The negative image of the flatlander and the flatlander's corresponding incomprehension of the native can be seen as responses to destructively civilizing urban oppressors within a native rural community, arising in the context of a historic struggle to preserve a homeland, sense of community/ peoplehood, and way of life. Whereas the flatlander and many white Vermonters might wish for social 'progress', and feel that the backwoods' lifestyle is backwards and/ or doomed, those of the second type appear to be holding on to their way of life, and feel that the newcomers, far from proposing beneficial changes, are simply depriving them of their land, and their livilihood.
THE AREA: GEOGRAPHY AND GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS
The area I have chosen as a case study interested me for several reasons. To begin, this is the area I have been living in since 1984, in which I intend make my permanent home, and where I belong to a land Co-op2. Secondly, its feel is particularly rural, consisting of backroads, and large areas of wooded acreage, interspersed with farms, villages, and waterways.
The largest body of water nearby is of course the Connecticut River, which prior to railroads and highways served as a major communication between southern and northern New England for both Indians and settlers (Haviland, 1981: 11, 12, 82, 155) (Meeks, 1986: 8, 15, 23). It also bounds the east side of Vermont. Between Norwich and Thetford where Highway 132 begins, a smaller but once navigable river joins the long river, from the west. This is the Ompompanoosucc, which in Abenaki means kind of muddy and swampy and good for fishing, according to John Moody (August 1988). Somewhere near Union Village, one finds a fork in the river, becoming the West and East Branches. On the east, the river meanders up from Highway 132, un to Thetford Center, where it passes under a covered bridge below the village at Tucker Hill road. The river continues north, roughly along Rte.....
113, branching west along Beanvill road in the Vershire/ West Fairlee corner, as well as further north through Vershre village. On the west side, the river follows 132, with Lord Brook branching south along Picknell Road where I used to live, passing through the villages of South Strafford and Strafford. Old City Brook branches off just north of the main village, closing the circle with Beanville road, and thus defining the general limits of my study area3.
Off of the West Branch, at Campbell corner, Abbot brook can be followed north to Miller Pond, a good sized pond good for trout fishing. The road which follows the brooks is called Skunk Hollow. It crosses the town line between Thetford center and Strafford, and turns into Miller Pond road, which in turn joins with Beanville on the north, and Sawnee Bean to the east. Sawnee Bean joins this area with the East Branch of the Pompy, at Route 113 just outside of Thetford Center, and also follows Barker Brook. These roads are a very much off the commuter pathway, and in many places are minimally paved. Even more primitive class four roads or even jeep trails, once well-travelled but no fallen into disuses branch off of these arteries, often leading to empty camps, abandoned farms, old cemeteries, cabins or small houses at the end of the passable road. Old maps reveal that these roads formerly were more important and passable (Beers, 1877) (Latham, 1961).4
Topographically, the roads are for the most part surrounded by steep or ledgy ridges which are mostly covered with pine forest, mixed with hardwoods. The nature of the terrain is such that one always has the experience of being either isolated in a valley or private bowl, with one's view blocked, or else one can climb up a slope and be treated to vast panaramic views of mountains and forest with remarkably limited signs of obvious human settlement Houses are built all along the roas, with some farm or open space in the Strafford part of Sawnee Bean, along the West branch of the Pompy.
As one leaves the Connecticut river valley and moves into higher elevations, the growing season becomes shorter, the climate colder. Furthermore, the soil is noteworthy more for its abundance of ledge, granite, and mining capability than for its vegetative abilities. Strafford notably seems to have been tucked away from the main centers of activity, not being apart of either the railroad, the highway system, or even the larger White and Connecticut Rivers. A careful reading of Harold A. Meeks' Time and Change in Vermont: A Human Geography (1986) finds Strafford an exception to many generalizations about Orange County. Perhaps this reflects a lack of historical record--or perhaps Strafford simply persisted in isolation, in which case one might expect it to be even more rural and self-sufficient than many other Upper Valley towns.
In any case, there are two sizable working dairy farms in this area, as well as a large Morgan horse farm. There are also numerous other smaller, beef, horse, sheep and (even one alpaca) raisers, particularly along Old City Falls. On Old City Falls Road is a thriving Apple Orchard as well. However, there are many other areas which have not been developed. Besides Miller Pond, there is the Podunk Wildlife preserve, both of which are overseen by the state. Additionally, there are number of large, relatively undisturbed by either housing, agriculture, or habitation. Along Skunk Hollow particularly, hunters link to congregate, presumably the proximity of the brook encourages deer.
THE PEOPLE--SETTLEMENT HISTORY
A. Classic Vermont
When Richard Wallace, of Nova Scotia, came to Newbury, (northern Vermont's first settlement by English-speaking peoples) in the 1770's, he observed two sorts of Vermonters. The first, to me epitomizes the Calvinist, enterprising, ambitious Yankees, descended from ancestors in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and retaining many of the same values of work, education, success and civilization. Their intent was to create a civilization out of what was perceived as savage wilderness. While rarely rich in the sense of nobility, they nonetheless "...were for the most part men of some little means and were able to furnish themselves with land, stock and tools. They were laborious, prudent, and economical...(E.N. Heaton, Thetford Town Report, 1920 p52)". These people were determined to exploit the land--felling the forest and putting the land into production, or market economy (Cronon, 1983: 118). Fundamental to these settlers from southern New England were the notions of improvement, treating land and natural resources as marketable commodities and as means of accumulating wealth (ibid, 73-78). Likewise, in the system which they imported, grants were made to individuals, who "should only possess as much land as they were able to subdue and make productive...(ibid, 73)".
Industrial progress, economic prosperity, and civilizing the wilderness have been the primary goals and achievements of this class of people, from the first settlers from Connecticut, to the commercial dairy farmers beginning in the late nineteenth century (Wilson, 1936: 184-210), and to present day developers. Often these people have come and gone, as the soil depleted, prospects improved in the West, or urban centers have grew (Wilson, 1936: 116-155). Many of the settlers were well educated, doctors, preachers and lawyers amongst them, as well as inventors such as Sam Morey in Fairlee (Hemenway, 1871: 1071, 1091)(Child, 1888:152-159)(Blaisdell, 1980: 141). Thetford Academy (established 1819 (Child: 124), and Dartmouth College early on offered cultural opportunity to the upper classes. On Thetford Hill, some of the residents had 'colored' servants (Fifield, 1988), and the houses in the main villages which still stand are stately edifices indeed. In Strafford, the Justin Morrill home reminds one of one of its prominent inhabitants.
These solid white buildings and churches create a picturesque beauty featured artistically on post cards and tourist literature. They stand as symbols of what village life is thought to have been: quiet, uncluttered, snowy and serene. the existence of stump logs, mines, manufacturing, gravel pits, poverty or social conflict generally is omitted in favor of the steeple, or alternately the rolling, cow-studded hills of Vermont's dairy farms, such as pictured on Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Historically, paintings of Vermont have adorned the urban homes of Bostonian and New Yorker people for decades (McGrath, 1988).
Because of its limited agricultural and industrial opprotunities, the state's economy has long relied on Vermont's popularity with out of staters (Wilson, 1936: 277-300). Actively, the state of Vermont has promoted a large tourist industry, beginning with health springs in the 19th century, and presently as vacation homes, skiland, outdoor recreational sports, including hunting, fishing,
camping, biking and hiking. Today, in part due to this image making, Vermont is seen as a beautiful environmentally unspoiled, progressive and socially sane place to be. Vermont appeals to people looking for retirement, reclusion, and the 'natural' qualities prized by the baby boomer generation. Visitors and newcomers remark at Vermont's incredible beauty, how much they love Vermont, or how much better Vermont is than other states with environmental problems, such as New Hampshire. The promise of utopia, and quality of the land, then attracts many people to the state.
Today, these people are referred to by the "natives", as flatlanders. They stereo-typically are more urbane, have more buying power, better educations, and have more expensively spotless material possessions, from neatly renovated old farmhouses and manicured lawns and ponds, to spotless and new clothing, to new model cars and store-bought home interiors and matching furniture sets. Some of these people would be considered wealthy in any circumstances; others would fall into the middle class in another environment, but in contrast to the natives, they form a whole new elite upper class, socially. Generally, because they are new to the area, they have jobs requiring college educations, and they hope for a certain economic and social mobility for themselves and their children. Compared to average Vermonters, as a class they have more income and mobility in the world at large, traveling internationally at times, or maintaining cultural ties with urban areas. Too often, they have little understanding of or respect for the traditional patterns of local authority and behavior, and may righteously challenge these and even denigrate them. In general, they feel comfortable with the ins and outs of official institutions, and they expect these institutions, such as town government, to adhere to inclusive principles of democracy, as they understand them. Being from the northeast, many are political liberals, or even radicals.
Often they see themselves as promoting and preserving the integrity of Vermont--in the classic image. Many come from the same ancestral stock as the early white settlers, and from the same geographic locations: southern New England and New York. They come for similar reasons--to escape overcrowding and over-exploitation of resources While they may love the land, and even come to work it, they lack the native's family ties and established patterns coming from childhood and generations of association with the land and the community.
By contrast with the above groups, there is another class of rural people settled in the Pompy area who are neither classic farmers nor committed to the "beautification/ development" of Vermont. These people want to continue to enjoy the subsistence use of environmental resources which they have relied on for generations, often living on the outskirts of villages, sometimes on small, marginal "hill farms", migrating from logging camp to logging camp, from one odd job to the next, or even from relative to relative. Cate, for instance, describes the tinkerer, a jack-of-all trades who was a welcome help to the farmer, but not a regularly employed hired hand. He lived "...an economically precarious existence...yet it left him time to locate the best trout pools, tramp the woods in search of game or herbs, or visit relatives and friends in the next town or county should the spirit move...(1982: 123)".
Likewise, Ira Stevens, in the Upper Valley Echoes describes how logging families used to live in movable twelve by twelve cabins, with no electricity or plumbing, and of course no radio, refrigerator, or telephone:
"...the amenities of a logging camp even after World War II were not all that different from life in a rural community with the cabin set up next to a good brook, a good pile or wood, and an outdoor toilet...A lot of houses in town weren't much better then. They didn't have electricity---it was 1938 before electricity came to this road...(Route 120 heading from Lebanon to Meriden)...and a lot of houses didn't have toilets...(Croft: 1989:1)"
In such close quarters, everyone knew everyone:"...Everyone was so close together, they knew all the news anyway...(ibid: 1)".
Although the backwoods people were not commercially prosperous farmers in the classical mode, some did own land. However, unlike some of the prospering dairy farmers in the fertile river valley, these hill farmers:
"...off almost a laboratory example of a traditional pre-industrial culture as it came to grips with the post-industrial revolution between 1870 and 1930. Their tenaciousness and rural ingenuity made selective use of a small number of artifacts...they retained their almost fierce sense of independence of the outside world in doing for themselves or doing without. Vermont farmers and villagers continued throughout the 1930's to live within the bounds of a subsistence oriented culture...(Hasting, 1982: 83).
They further differed from their southern New England counterparts, in that they lived with a "...loose settlement pattern of scattered farms instead of the tight village clusters of southern New England, (and retained, therefore)...a frontier cast of mind well into the twentieth century...(Hastings, 1982: 82)."
In the 1700's Wallace, mentioned earlier, also observed the early beginnings of this second class of people who, compared to the classic farmers,"...were in more indigent circumstances. They labored hard in the house and field and...(their) earthly fare was coarse and somewhat scanty. Their bowls, dishes, plates were all of wood...(Heaton, 1920: 52)" Daily rations were simple, as were housing and clothing. "...Many wore Indian stockings and mocassins of raw hide and some of the wealthier had Indian blankets cut into box coats and wore 'biff caps' ...their clothing in general was of linen...(ibid)".
Generally at that time, there were no stores, schools, churches, or roads, and people were largely dependent upon their resources for the necessities of life. Wildlife was abundant, including not only edible game such as fish, moose and deer, but also wolves, bears and panthers who could be heard or seen prowling at night (Hemenwat, 1871: 1093). Far from the idealized cozy little villages imagined by today's immigrants--times were rough, and lawless. There was in the beginning no clear government, and land claims were disputed. Orange county was reputed to be inhabited by "...lawless bandittli of felons and criminals...(Child, 1888: 35)". On the other hand, despite the lack of political enforcement,"...each one generally did what was right in his own eye, but few in number, poor and dependent on each other, they generally leived in good neighborhood, and were kind and obliging to each other...(Hemenway: 1093)". Outside large, established settlements, a man was