S. 222 § 853. (b) Recognition Criteria:
St. Francis Sokoki Band/Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi
100 Grand Avenue, Swanton, VT 05488
Chief (Sogomo) April St. Francis Merrill
Prof. Fred Wiseman
Chair, Department of Humnaities
Johnson State College
This document has been prepared by the St. Francis/Sokoki Band to fulfill the recognition conditions as required by Vermont Statute S. 222 § 853. (b). The materials contained herein are for the purposes of legislative recognition by the Vermont Legislature only, and may not be published or otherwise used without permission of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band.
© 2010 St. Francis/Sokoki Band
S. 222/ § 853 (b) For the purposes of recognition, a Vermont Native American tribe must demonstrate that it has:
(1) A physical and legal residence in Vermont.
Tribal Headquarters and Museum
100 Grand Avenue, Swanton, VT 05488
(2) An organized tribal membership roll along with specific criteria that were used to determine membership, including evidence of kinship among tribal members.
Tribal rolls and genealogical descendency charts maintained an organized on
computer, supported hard copy personnel files.
(3) Documented traditions, customs, and legends that signify Native American heritage.
Detailed historical/geographical data compiled by Frederick Wiseman submitted Jan 22. Summary review appended as Appendix 1.
(4) A tribal council, a constitution, and a chief.
(a) Tribal council
St. Francis Sokoki Band Tribal Council
Chief, St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation
(5) Been and continues to be recognized by other Native American communities in Vermont as a Vermont tribe.
All Tribes are united in an Alliance (The Vermont- Indigenous Alliance) and after a vigorous three year vetting process (2006-2009) each tribe of the Alliance recognizes all others as Indian tribes. See cover letter.
(6) Been known by state, county or local municipal officials, or the public as a functioning tribe in Vermont.
Deborah Blom (UVM, Attachment 1)
David Skinas (USDA, Attachment 2)
John Crock (UVM, Attachment 3)
Collaboration with Swanton Village to establish and promote the "Abenaki Heritage Days Celebration" each May.
Worked with Swanton Town Zoning and Planning officials dealing with cultural sites and Burial grounds beginning in 1999.
Known through 38 years of controversy and friendship with Vermonters, hundreds of newspaper articles, books, films, presentations, the Abenaki Tribal Museum etc.
(7) Not been recognized as a tribe in any other state, province, or nation.
The St. Francis/Sokoki Band has never been officially recognized as a trrbe in any other state, province, or natron
(8) An enduring community presence within the boundaries of Vermont that can be documented by archaeology, ethnography, physical anthropology, history, genealogy, folklore and/or other applicable scholarly research. (Appendix 2)
From: Deborah Blom [mailto:dblom©uvm.edu]
Sent: Friday, March 05, 2010 1:43 AM
To: Fred Wiseman
Subject: Re: Abenakis
I think everything I can say is neatly packaged in the Kerber volume article, which outlines that, through acts like the repatriation of Boucher, UVM has been treating Missisquoi as a sovereign entity in Vermont, in the same way that one would interact with a federally recognized tribe.
Deborah E. Blom, Ph.D.
University of Vermont
Department of Anthropology
Williams Hall 508
72 University Place
Burlington, VT 05405-0168
(802) 656-2932 office
(802) 656-4406 fax
Burial Site Protection with the St. Francis/Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation at
David Skinas, Archeologist
USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
617 Comstock Road
Berlin, Vermont 05602-8498
My relationship with the St. Francis/Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi began in May of 1988. I was working for the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation (DHP) as their survey archeologist and was asked by Chief Homer St. Francis to investigate an eroding bank on the Missisquoi River in Highgate where human bones were reported to be falling out of that bank. The reports were true as I collected several dozen fragments of human bone from the bank and returned them to tribal headquarters. Chief Homer allowed me to bring those remains back to the DHP office in Montpelier for non-destructive analysis. At least four Abenaki individuals were represented by those - remains and they were reburied on-site later that year. Over the next several years Missisquoi community members and I tried to stabilize that eroding bank by installing willow fascines and red osier dogwood. During those planting episodes it became clear to me how the destruction of their ancestor's graves deeply affected the descendants. There was deep anguish in some and tears in the eyes of others as they picked human bone fragments off of the bank while planting the willows and dogwood. Such behavior made me feel that these people were intimately connected with those burials within the Missisquoi homeland and that no peace would come to them until the remains were properly taken care of according to Abenaki custom. The Monument site was purchased by the legislature the following session to prevent further house development and disturbance of that particular cemetery. In the spring of 1989, with the assistance of the USDA Soil Conservation Service, we conducted a ground penetrating radar study of the Monument site and determined that there were many more burial features that remain intact at the site. In 1991 the eroding bank was stabilized with rock rip rap and remains protected to this day.
In 1989 Chief Homer and Missisquoi community members were extremely distraught about UVM continuing to possess the Boucher Cemetery burials and funerary objects in the anthropology office after their removal in 1974 from the burial site on Monument Road in Highgate. Again I felt that these people had a deep connection with the exhumed graves and there was a visible uneasiness by tribal members that these bodies had not yet been repatriated to them so they could rebury their ancestors on-site according to Abenaki custom. I was able to facilitate an agreement between Chief Homer and UVM to repatriate those 80-100 burials to the tribe. For several years I oversaw the storage of those burials in state-owned facilities located in Montpelier while non-intrusive studies of some of the remains and funerary objects were undertaken by professionals prior to reburial in 1996.
I continued working with Chief Homer and Missisquoi over the next several years helping them deal with house development on Monument Road and helping them recover other Abenaki burials that were eroding out of the Connecticut River bank and one that had been exposed during hedgerow removal between two farm fields in Vernon. I left state government in-1994 and began working for the USDA Natural- Resources Conservation Service (formally the Soil Conservation Service). My relationship with the Missisquoi
Abenaki continued and became much stronger in 2000 when house development on Monument Road in Highgate once again exposed an Abenaki burial ground. At least 27 Missisquoi graves had been disturbed before the destruction was stopped. The anguish of tribal members over the continued loss of their ancestral burial grounds was heart breaking and seemingly without end. I suggested to Chief April St. Francis, who took over for her sick father, that perhaps we could use non-intrusive archeological technology, such as ground penetrating radar, to investigate house lots that were slated for development to search for graves before they were disturbed. Chief April was able to convince Monument Road landowners and the Towns of Swanton and Highgate to enact a three year interim zoning that would allow for non-intrusive archeological studies prior to issuing a permit for house development in this study area. We conducted preliminary ground penetrating radar studies in 2002 and 2004, and to this day I at least monitor the excavation of house foundations, septic/leach fields and utility trenches to ensure that no Missisquoi graves will be destroyed by house development along Monument Road. Highgate allowed the interim zoning to sunset after the three year interim period but Swanton formally adopted the special zoning.
During the late summer of 2000 another burial site had been disturbed in a gravel pit located in Alburg. In the spring of 2001 Chief April and I conducted a ground penetrating study at the site but the soils were too alkaline and stony to provide reliable results. After a five year hiatus and exposure of seven total Abenaki burials the state, through the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, agreed to purchase the gravel pit to protect the Missisquoi cemetery in perpetuity. Again the anguish that I observed on tribal members faces when viewing the disturbance was tragic.
I was also a member of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Native American Affairs for six years. - I was initially appointed to my first term by Governor Dean and then the Missisquoi Tribal Council appointed me for two additional terms to serve on this commission that led to the signing of the first Abenaki recognition bill in 2006.
I continue to work with the Missisquoi Abenaki on burial related projects on Monument Road and elsewhere in Vermont. Since late 2007 I have been a member of the Abenaki Self Help Association, Inc. (ASHAI) board of directors. ASHAI is funded by a U.S. Department of Labor grant to provide services to Missisquoi community members to improve their educational and economic opportunities. During my 22 year relationship with the Missisquoi Abenaki I have become impressed with their struggle for recognition, applaud their efforts to save their language that almost became extinct and more importantly I am awed by their dedication to improve the well being and future of their children so they will have better lives.
Attachment 3 (converted from .pdf format by Fred Wiseman)
From: John G. Crock [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Saturday, March 06, 2010 1:46 PM
Cc: Fred Wiseman
Subject: RE: Letter documenting collaboration
Happy late winter/mud season! Letter attached.
March 6, 2010
Chief April St. Francis-Merrill
Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi
P.O. Box 276
Swanton, VT, 05488
Dear Chief St. Francis-Merrill,
I write to formally acknowledge my long-term collaboration with you and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi on range of issues including the conduct of the archaeology Native American sites in Vermont, the repatriation of Native American human remains, and public education related to Vermont's 12,000+ years of Native American heritage. This professional relationship began in 2000, when 1 became the Director of the University of Vermont Consulting Archaeology Program and has continued ever since. Over this period of time I have had the pleasure-of working with you and other members of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi as the recognized (by the State of Vermont) representatives for Native American interests with respect to federal and State-regulated archaeological projects undertaken in Vermont. For example, in our capacity as a Statewide Archaeological Consultant to the Vermont Agency of Transportation, we have been directed to consult the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in the context of numerous federally regulated projects that have included the archaeological investigation of Native American sites and have been directed, under contract, to submit final reports to your office.
The Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi is the recognized (by the State of Vermont) repatriation coordinator for any Native American human remains discovered archaeologically, incidentally, or within private collections in Vermont. As a result of your community's role in this regard, the UVM CAP has assisted and consulted with you in both the recovery of Native American remains discovered during construction and in the repatriation of discovered remains for reburial.
Lastly, I have had the pleasure to consult with you and other members of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi in the context of numerous educational initiatives. These include, among others, my Natives of the Northeast course here at UVM, the James B. Petersen Memorial Gallery of Native American Cultures at the University of Vermont's Fleming Museum, the Indigenous Expressions Exhibit at the Echo Center in Burlington, and the lndigenous Forum held as part of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Program.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi for your willingness to work with the academic community over the years. I look forward to continued collaboration in the future.
John G. Crock, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Director. UVM Consulting Archaeology Program
Criteria § 853 (b) (3) Documented traditions, customs, and legends that signify Native American heritage.
The St. Francis/Sokoki Band, Abenaki Nation retains a significant fund of traditional knowledge and customs that can be tied to a native heritage through ethnography or folkloric studies, as detailed in Appendix 2. There are large numbers of traditions that have been previously published in Haviland and Power's The Original Vermonters and F. Wiseman's Voice of the Dawn, both University Press of New England, and Against the Darkness, a DVD from Title VII Indian Education (Swanton, VT). Below is a sample of newer data that has become available since 2006 to specifically address criterion § 853. (b) (3) "Documented traditions, customs, and legends that signify Native American heritage."
One of the most interesting regional traditions that has been uncovered recently is that on Missisquoi Bay (Highgate, VT), Abenaki ice fishermen warm their fish-eye bait under their tongues. This practice is considered "gross" by their Anglo and Franco-VT neighbors. Every ice fisherman has strong personal feelings, positive or negative of this practice—and these feelings are repeatedly correlated with other familial traces of Native ancestry/tradition. Vera Longtoe Sheehan, the Elnu Tribal Genealogist, recounts a family story from her grandmother (d. 2003) of the use of "Indian clothes" at Missisquoi by "an old Indian woman," Ms. Sheehan's great grandmother (d. 1932). Ms. Sheehan said "I asked my grandmother how did she know she (the 3rd great grandmother) was Indian?" Ms. Sheehan's grandmother described her as having "long braided hair and wearing Indian clothes...She wore old coins in her ears, many beads and a skirt with lots of ribbons. No white women would dress like that." Apparently these articles of clothing were locally made, because Ms. Sheehan's grandmother went on to talk about "the beautiful ribbon and beads that the old women would sew, as they all sat around." In addition, Swanton's elders remember the local Indians with a measure of fondness. Ms. Polly Pane of Swanton, VT still has ash splint materials made for her by the Lapans in the 1950's, a family known to be Indian. In addition, Ms. Lucille Bell said in the January 7, 1996 Burlington Free Press, "I remember we had an Indian family here (Swanton, VT), and the woman made baskets and used to come around door to door to sell them. We didn't make a big thing of it and neither did they."
Probably the most important and definitive Indigenous customs involve land use. The great ethnologist, Frank Speck studied and published on Indigenous Maine land tenure in his 1940 book Penobscot Man. In it, he described a family-based resource zone partitioning and use pattern that Haviland and Power, used in The Original Vermonters to describe prehistoric VT land use, but without any local confirmation. However, interviews with Missisquoi citizens and the authors' own memories have confirmed the presence of this land tenure system in the Missisquoi River Basin and Missisquoi Bay (Lake Champlain). Each core Missisquoi family band maintains its own distinguishing subsistence grounds along the Missisquoi River Valley; and has protocols for admitting others into these subsistence grounds. Author Fred Wiseman's family's traditional fishing territory was "the reef" a linear, north trending ledge and boulder ridge on the bottom of Missisquoi Bay. It was that family's responsibility to mark the north end of the reef for other fishermen with a red-painted wooden buoy or a plastic gallon milk-jug. This "buoying the reef” tradition was maintained father every May until Wiseman's father's death. Dr. Wiseman's father asked permission of Mr. Hakey, to fish an "above the dam" section of the Missisquoi River, which was not Wiseman's family fishing territory, ritually giving Mr. Hakey a fishing lure, as a sign of respect. Family bands hunted and collected in partitioned floodplain and upland zones of the Missisquoi Valley. These subsistence zones were long-term, spatially consistent and bounded within themselves, yet cut across existing property and town lines, and even the more fluid hunting and fishing areas of Missisquoi's Franco VT and Anglo VT neighbors. These use areas often had seasonally occupied "cottages" or deer camps signing the core of the area -- from the "Grandma Lampman" territory (marked with an historical plaque) at Maquam on the shores of Lake Champlain at least as far upriver as the St. Francis' well-known and attended Berkshire camp. In addition to hunting and fishing, local Native people collected herbs used in traditional medicinal curing from these well-delineated resource use areas. The River Rats (for discussion of their indigenous
ethnicity see Wiseman 2001, Voice of the Dawn: 120-132) collected local plants such skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) in restricted areas of the marshes of the Missisquoi River delta.
The Elnu Tribe's genealogist, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, recounted a family story from her Missisquoi grandmother (d. 2003). Sheehan's grandmother said "The older folks did the talking... in those days you were quiet, unless spoken to. The older folks would talk to me, but I couldn't understand them...Because they didn't speak English." What did they speak," Sheehan asked her grandmother. "The old language," she answered. Could it be that Sheehan's grandmother was remembering the older folks speaking in the Gaelic/Irish language? "When the older folks did the talking... in those days you were quiet, unless spoken to," is NOT a Native Cultural trait, but a European/ Irish trait! The name Sheehan or Sheahan, sometimes contracted to Sheen or Shean, is the anglicisation of the Irish Ó Siodhacháin, from a diminutive of siodhach, meaning 'peaceful'.
§ 853. (b) (8) An enduring community presence within the boundaries of Vermont that can be documented by ethnography; physical anthropology, history, genealogy, folklore and/or other applicable scholarly research.
These data are derived from the "Something of Value paper delivered to the Senate Committee on Economic Development Housing and General Affairs on Jan 22, •
Today, Missisquoi is a distinct Native "town-resident" community historically associated with portions of modern Swanton, Alburgh and Highgate towns in Franklin County, VT. Specifically, Missisquoi was also a historically well-known Abenaki village located about a mile to the northwest of Swanton, Vermont; which figures prominently in the many ethnohistories of early and mid 19th century Northern New England such as Gordon Day's 1981 Identity of the St: Francis Indians or Colin Calloway's 1990 The Western Abenakis of Vermont. In addition, its specific location has been known and mapped as a Euroamerican determination of Indigenous ethnicity (i.e. the "Indian Castle" of the famous 1763 "Murray and Collins Map" of Lake Champlain). This was the period when several Missisquoi families leased sections of their land in the Missisquoi River valley to an Englishman in "Robertson's Lease," a document confirming an Abenaki presence at the "Indian castle" area in the period slightly before our narrative begins. Haviland and Power's The Original Vermonters and Fred Wiseman's Voice of the Dawn, both published by University Press of New England in 2001, and Against the Darkness, a DVD from Title VII Indian Education (Swanton, VT), deal with 19th and 20th century Missisquoi Abenaki culture in detail. However, a few salient, and mostly unpublished, historical references from the post-1790 era are presented below.
The origin of the word Missiquoi is "Masipskoik" a word that means place where there are boulders, more specifically "boulders point." We have enquired among the old Abenaquis and they all agree about this interpretation as a thing known among them for a long time.
Father de Gonzague, Missionary to the Odanak Abenakis
In A study of the etymology of the place name Missisquoi
G. McAleer 1906:p. 8
Old records existing in Swanton, VT (originally found by ethnohistorian John Moody) reveal that in 1790, there were "fifty Abenaki Lodges near Swanton Village..." This site was probably downriver a mile or so from modern Swanton, where their burial ground was discovered in 2000, and where their "Indian Castle” or palisaded village was located thirty years before that. The fact that they were described as "lodges" rather than houses provides evidence of the typical conical, single-family wigwam, although the possibility of "Quonset-hut" style multi-family longhouses cannot be ruled out. This figure also implies a minimum Missisquoi Village population over 100 Native persons if we only assume 2 people per family. If we use the anthropological standard of 5.2 persons/family/wigwam, the Native population would be over 250 persons. The Abenakis seemed to be in a defensive mode at the time, for they were accused of burning a barn that same year in Sheldon, twelve miles upriver from their village. Twenty years later produced the only known painting of Missisquoi Native people. A War of 1812-era oil painting on canvas "Tyler's Farm near Highgate" by a Benson (given name unknown) in the Shelburne Museum collection forms the cover of John Duffy's 1995 book Vermont, an Illustrated History (City Reports). The painting clearly depicts a birchbark canoe on Missisquoi Bay, with two women and a child in the canoe. The women were clearly wearing the ethnically distinct peaked hood characteristic of the Wabanaki (a collective culture group that includes the Abenakis, Penobscots, Maliseets, Passamaquoddies and Micmacs) Native people in the region. This is an important archival painting, in that it is the only known illustration of the traditional beadwork and ribbon-work decorated peaked hood from Vermont. There are a few distinctive ca. 1910-20 Native American artifacts from the area to confirm the identity of the people in the painting. Probably the most applicable period object is a beaded panel made of red "stroud" trade wool edged with (mostly decayed) silk ribbon (Figure 1). Mid 20th century Swanton historian and collector Ben Gravel, said it was found inside of the wall of a house in Swanton. Wiseman remembers that Gravel also had collected a pair of complete local moccasins that have disappeared since his death many years ago.
Figure 1. Red trade wool panel (epaulet or cuff) decorated with 10/0, and 15/0 beads.
Swanton, ca. 1800-1830.
Twenty years after the Shelburne Museum painting of women paddling just off of the eastern shore of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountain Democrat of April 3, 1935 explained that there was a "tribe of the Missisques, who live a wandering life on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain." That this "wandering life" was, at least partly, an accommodation to European economics is documented in the coeval Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania (Oct. 3, 1935), which reports ".... Indians from ... Lake Champlain have taken up residence in the city (Philadelphia, PA), dwelling in two birch bark tents, they propose to carry on the basket-making business." The basket making business reappears many times in the Missisquoi narrative, as we see below.
The physical nature of these mysterious early 19th century "Missisques" people was revealed at the Bushey Site, inadvertently uncovered in 2000 by construction of a residential cellar hole adjacent to the old mapped Missisquoi "Indian castle." This site consisted of a historic period graveyard, and, according to archaeologist James Petersen of the University of Vermont; was complete with the remains of softwood (not the traditional birchbark) coffins nailed with 18th and 19th century forged and cut nails. But the oils in the cedar coffins also preserved within them an additional important historical detail. In a December 09, 2002 e-mail, Dr. Petersen said "I looked at the (distinctive cut coffin nails Wiseman suggested he examine) nail and they are not-the single cut type, but the double cut style. I think that they are definitely a mid 19th century type." The artifacts referred to by Prof. Petersen were distinctive "cross-cut" nails found in at least two coffins, that were produced by a machine patented in the 1940's; thereby bringing the internments at Missisquoi into the mid-19th century. Unfortunately, the completely fragmented condition of the coffins precluded determination of how many coffins actually dated to the second quarter of the 19th century or any contextual relation with the human remains. Deborah Blom, the University of Vermont's physical anthropologist, studied the Bushey Site human remains dated by Dr. Petersen's technical analysis of the coffin nails. In her March 3, 2002 technical report Human Remains from Monument Road, Highgate, Vermont Professor Blom noted that the Bushy Site burials' teeth showed "the presence of shovel-shaped incisors and evidence of an edge-to-edge bite on the anterior teeth. None of the incisors were of a blade-form (i.e. non-Native form). These observations are consistent with Native American ancestry." In the 2006 video Against the Darkness (Title VI1 Indian Education), Prof. Blom also noted that the spatial distribution, burial density and relatively large estimated number of internments (approximately 30 as determined by bone analysis) from the construction area indicate that that they were interred in a graveyard. She further indicated that such a burial ground was often considered by anthropologists as evidence of a collective level of control over land resources. This archaeologjeal and physical anthropological information is probably the best independent scientific evidence that we have for an early and mid 19th
century Indigenous population in VT -- distinct in geography and genetics -- from their white settler neighbors.
One generation later, men bearing four discrete local family surnames were listed as "Indians" in October, 1963, Civil War conscription list from the Alburgh, VT Land and Miscellaneous Records Book (16:593/4), only a few miles from the Bushey Site. These explicitly listed VT Native persons (and their "same-parent" siblings) form an important identity baseline that confers documented native descendency to people from the Swanton/Alburgh/Highgate area. For example, Charles Partlow, one of the four conscripts, had a sister, Eliza Covey, née Partlow (b. 1826 of the same parent as Charles, so ethnicity is equivalent) who had daughter, Jenny Covey (b. 1959), who had a son, Herbert Hilliker (b. 1994), who had a daughter, Doris Hilliker (b. 1912) who had a daughter, Betty Reynolds (b. 1929) whose daughter, Cathy Cline (b. 1963) is the mother of Melody Walker, a young VT Indigenous woman pursuing a graduate degree in history at the University of Vermont. In addition, Doris Hilliker had a son Leonard Reynolds (b. 1926) who had a child Carolee Reynolds (b. 1957) whose daughter Takara Matthews (b. 1995), proudly serves in the VT Air National Guard.
Thirty years after Hazard's Register reported Indian Basket makers in Northwestern VT, these craftspeople continued to work in the area; as reported in the St Albans (VT) Messenger, Aug. 4, 1874: "Last Saturday, Josh Spooner saw a man in his woods... who proved to be an old Indian quietly pursuing his avocation of making baskets." An example Indigenous style clothing from this period (dated by the temporally distinctive brass buttons) consists of a beaded brown velvet vest (Figure 2) with added leather-fringe details, a harbinger of the "cut-cloth fringe" clothing style (see below). It was the custom for many Native people in the last third of the 19th century to craft colorful clothing to reinforce an "Indian" identity for their craft-selling, and perhaps Franklin Co.'s "Indian Basket makers" used this particular vest for such a purpose.
Figure 2. Velvet Man's vest with beadwork floral designs and appended animal-tanned leather fringe.
Swanton, VT. Mid 19th century
In the decades surrounding the turn of the 20th century, Missisquoi-area people owned more exotic types of specially-made garments in the so-called "cut-cloth fringe" style. Scholars are most familiar with this regionally and temporally distinctive Native American clothing from late 19th and early 20th century
archival photographs of Maine Indians at "Indian Pageants" or crafts enclaves such as the "Indian Village" at Bar Harbor. Although made from locally obtained materials such as tan cotton cloth, it has a distinctive detail at the hems made by repeatedly cutting, ripping or slitting cloth panels to produce a fringed effect. The desired effect was to replicate fringed buckskin clothing in a more available medium. Decoration was typically appliqué or embroidery. Jewelry often consisted of long "flapper length" strands of glass or ceramic beads of various sizes and colors. Occasionally older decorative accessories such as beaded panels are included. Overall the effect was striking and certainly helped craftspeople express their ethnic identity. Vera Longtoe Sheehan, the Elnu Tribal Genealogist, recounts a family story from her grandmother (d. 2003) of the use of such "Indian clothes" at Missisquoi during this time period by "an old Indian woman, "Ms. Sheehan's 3rd great grandmother (d. 1932). Ms. Sheehan said "I asked my grandmother how did she know she (the 3rd great grandmother) was Indian?" Ms. Sheehan's grandmother described her as having "long braided hair and wearing Indian clothes...She wore old coins in her ears, many beads and a skirt with lots of ribbons. No white women would dress like that." Apparently these articles of clothing were locally made, because Ms. Sheehan's grandmother went on to talk about "the beautiful ribbon and beads that the old women would sew, as they all sat around. A Missisquoi outfit of "Indian Clothes" is illustrated in Figure 3. It was found in Highgate Falls, VT in the 1970's by Swanton antique dealer Gordon Winters. It consists of a distinctive trilobate velvet "Indian Princess" crown, decorated with expedient hand-cut glass tube beads; a tan cotton dress with red cut cloth fringe and embroidered panels recycled from a Victorian lambrequin (shelf decoration). Accessories include a red cotton cloth sash and an alternating blue and white ceramic bead necklace (the other necklaces in the illustration are not original to the ensemble). These handmade, often charmingly idiosyncratic clothes are structurally and technologically unlike "Campfire Girl" and "Degree (or Daughters) of Pocahontas" manufactured costume that occasionally turns up in VT. In the early 1990's Wiseman imprudently purchased Campfire, Pocahontas and "Improved Order of Red Man” clothing and fashion accessories before he was able to properly identify the standardized, commercially-produced Euroamerican products.
Figure 3. Missisquoi woman modeling complete woman's cut cloth fringe outfit.
Highgate Falls, VT. Late 19th century/early 20th century
Elaborate handcrafted Indian fashion costuming was often used to help Indigenous people to sell baskets and other crafts at the turn of the 20th century. Figure 4 illustrates an important fancy "Cowiss Style” Missisquoi basket. From the extant collection of baskets with a solid Missisquoi provenance, it seems that
Missisquoi basket makers never practiced the ubiquitous "sweetgrass" basket style sold by the itinerant VT "Gypsies" and the Odanak-based Panadis family -- evidence of a distinctive evolved local "Native" technological tradition. They seemed to focus instead on the distinctive "overlay weave" or "cowiss" basketry style into the 1940's (Figure 5), long after it became obsolete in other indigenous basket making centers. Missisquois never seemed to adopt the more simple bundled, braided or woven sweet grass technique except perhaps for reinforcing basket rims such as that seen on the example in Figure 4.
Figure 4. "Crossed Standard diamond" cowiss style Missisquoi Abenaki ash-splint basket.
Bundled sweetgrass reinforced rim.
Ca 1890-1920 Made by Lapan Family or a close relative
The fact that the Missisquoi region had a remarkably large community of Indian basket makers was described by the June 19, 1893 St. Albans Messenger, "Twenty four Indians have encamped at Kingfisher Bay near Swanton, and are busy plying their trade of basket making to catch the stray nickel." This shoreline encampment was a significant Indigenous seasonal settlement, probably around five families, who would have erected several tents or wigwams, and built fire pits. The Kingfisher Bay occupation was independent of the Panadis family bi-national basket sellers who were headquartered at Highgate Springs. Odanak elder Cecile Wawanolet, who came to Highgate Springs with the Panadis family in the second quarter of the 20th century, said that their temporary camp and display tent was located at Shipyard Bay, where the tour ships and summer camps gave them a good livelihood. During this period, the Lapan family was widely known as the premiere Indian basket making family in the Swanton/Highgate/Sheldon area. Their late 19th and early 20th century utility and fancy baskets (probably Figure 4 and definitely Figure 5) as well as articles of their "Indian Costume" (a Niagara-style "princess crown") and tools (a pine "basket mold") are curated at the Wôbanakik Heritage Center, having been donated by descendent Jesse Lapan and other Swantonians. The latest documented Lapan basket in the Center's collection is of a decadent style unlike those made in elsewhere, and dated 1943 (Figure 5). The old Abenaki basket makers have not been forgotten. Ms. Polly Parre of Swanton, VT still has ash splint materials (woven chair seats) made for her by the Lapans in the 1950's. In addition, Swanton's elderly still remember the local Indians with a measure of fondness. Ms. Lucille Bell said, in the January 7, 1996 Burlington Free Press, "I remember we had an Indian family here (Swanton, VT), and the woman made baskets and used to come around door to door to sell them. We didn't make a big thing of it and neither did they."
Figure 5. "Standard diamond" style Basket, Missisquoi, VT, dated "1943," in ink on bottom.
The latest well-documented Lapan ash-splint basket
As an allied alternative to the almost ubiquitous ash-splint basket crafting, local Native people collected and/or marketed medicinal herbs. The earliest local evidence of this Indigenous medicinal herbal collecting and processing activity is an artifact from John Colson, the "Indian Nurse" who lived between Swanton and St. Albans. He sold "Indian medicines" in well printed glass bottles, some of which still remain (Figure 6). It is interesting that the label is bilingual, indicating sales to local francophone Vermonters. This is a 19th century "anchor" documentation of an active, long-term herbal collecting activity by people of professed Native identity in Franklin Co. VT.
Later, the Swanton "River Rats" (for discussion of their Indigenous ethnicity see Wiseman 2001, Voice of the Dawn: 120-132) used to collect local plants as a source of income at least into the 1860's. As a child, Dr. Fred Wiseman helped his adult "River Rat" friend Monkey Drew gather skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) in the marshes of the Missisquoi River delta. He remembers that there was a man who would show up in the parking lot across from Swanton's "Merchant's Row" and would pay for skullcap and other herbs. Wiseman remembers "making a dollar as my cut of the profits."
Figure 6. John Colson "Indian Nurse" bottle, ca 1860 with "St. Albans, VT" label.
SEE THIS LINK: http://www.nedoba.org/topic_wiseman.html
By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Euroamerican ethnic signifier of Swanton-area Indigenous people had evolved from the Green Mountain Democrat's "Missisques" to Abbe Hemmingway's 1993 "St. Francis Indians" in the VT Historical Gazetteer (Vol. IV:945). Documentation that this ambiguous "St. Francis Indians" ethnic signifier was geographically tied to the Missisquoi region (rather than referring to Quebec Mission villages such as Odanak) is literally "engraved in stone" on the 1909 Monument to the Catholic Missisquoi mission. This inscription, still standing today on Monument Road, Highgate, VT, names local Christianized Indians as "St. Francis Indians." In the second quarter of the 20th century, the State of Vermont's Eugenics Survey records (as recently published by the VT Attorney General) listed a mixed French/Indian sub-community called today "the Back Bay" in Swanton, VT, and census-listed residents of this geographically restricted community are the grandparents of a local population of living people who consider themselves Native American. In the first half of the 20th century, the Back Bay (as well as a few isolated families elsewhere in Swanton/Highgate towns) was composed of a set of "core" family bands. There was apparently some kind of formal leadership of these core bands. This fact was hinted at in a mid 20th century quote by Swanton collector and historian Ben Gravel.
I remember when I was a kid (in the late 19th century), we had a chief in (Swanton) town.
Ben Gravel, June 1969 (Wiseman, 2001, Voice of the Dawn
There is evidence that the Abenaki language was used by Missisquoi elders during this period. Years ago, Swanton historian Ben Gravel told author Fred Wiseman that the Abenaki language was spoken in Swanton into the 1950's. The Elnu Tribe's genealogist, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, confirms this anecdote; recounting a family story from her Missisquoi grandmother (d. 2003) of the use of the Abenaki language by the
Missisquoi Indian community in the late l9th or early 20th century. Sheehan's grandmother said "The older folks did the talking... in those days you were quiet, unless spoken to. The older folks would talk to me, but I couldn't understand them...Because they didn't speak English." What did they speak," Sheehan asked her grandmother. "The old language," she answered.
According to former Chief Homer St. Francis, when he was a child, "the older folks," the heads of these family bands used to meet around his father's, and other kitchen tables, to discuss issues of mutual concern. St. Francis remembers free Canadian/American border crossing by Indians as being one of the issues discussed. Although the young St. Francis was not privy to the intricacies of the (1940's-early 1950's?) discussions, he remembered that decision-making seemed to be informal, respectful (usually) and by consensus.
In addition, each core family band had, and in some cases maintains, its own distinguishing subsistence grounds along the Missisquoi River Valley; and protocols for admitting others into these subsistence grounds. Dr. Wiseman's grandfather, used to visit Mr. Ed Hakey, a Missisquoi patriarch, in the 1950's, whenever he wished to fish an "above the dam" section of the Missisquoi River. Wiseman's grandfather (and father after him) used to bring Mr. Hakey a present of a fishing lure, or some equivalent item of value as a sign of respect. Wiseman's family's traditional fishing territory was "the reef' a linear, north trending ledge and boulder ridge on the bottom of Missisquoi Bay. It was that family's responsibility to mark the north end of the reef for other fishermen with a red-painted wooden buoy (?-1979), or later (1979-1985) a plastic gallon milk-jug. This "buoying the reef” tradition was maintained father every May until Wiseman's father's death. This history is evidence of resource partitioning and protocols for gaining permission from community leaders to use the resource zones -- persisting into living memory.
In addition, family bands hunted and collected in partitioned floodplain and upland zones of the Missisquoi Valley. These subsistence zones were long-term, spatially consistent and bounded within themselves, yet cut across existing property and town lines; and even the more fluid hunting and fishing areas of Missisquoi's Franco VT and Anglo VT neighbors. These use areas often had seasonally occupied "cottages" or deer camps signing the core of the area -- from the "Grandma Lampman" territory (marked with an historical plaque) at Maquam on the shores of Lake Champlain, through the uplands between Swanton and Highgate (Wiseman's grandmother's family [the Ouimets'] area was Woods Hill/Marble Quarry Hill on the south shore of the River), and at least as far upriver as the St. Francis' well-known and attended Berkshire camp. In addition, there remain enduring nuances of hunting and fishing practice that signal Native heritage. On Missisquoi Bay (Highgate, VT), Abenaki ice fishermen warm their fish-eye bait under their tongues, a practice considered "gross" by their Anglo and Franco-VT neighbors. In Wiseman's classes at Johnson State College, "I tell of this practice, and ask if my students or their families warm the fish-eyes in this way. Many do not, but some, even from the Northeast Kingdom, share this practice." Every ice fisherman has strong personal feelings, positive or negative of this practice and these feelings are repeatedly correlated with other familial traces of Native ancestry/tradition. In addition, a unique subsistence tool also remains as evidence of local Native identity.
Almost every museum in the Northeast has at least one of the distinctive Wabanaki-style three pronged fish spears used by the Micmacs, Maliseets, Passamaquoddy Native People of Maine and the Canadian Maritimes. Apparently, this device was unknown at the Odanak, QC Abenaki settlement – so Wiseman donated one from Western Maine to the Museé des Abenakis so Odanak would have an example. This spear has a central bone or metal spike and two wood "guides" to direct the fish onto the central barb. Mr. Hakey of Swanton had a wooden example that he "used before the war (WWII) below the dam in Swanton" to spear eels (Figure 7). This example is almost identical in construction to other traditional fish spears and completely different than any other type of Euroamerican eel or fish spear, which has all-metal heads with several barbed prongs, and lack the distinctive "guides".
Figure 7. Wabanaki-style fish spear.
Maple wood with iron wire skewer, wrapping is new.
Ed Hakey Swanton, VT, early 20th century.
This old geographic subsistence pattern may extend farther afield and calls for future research. For example, Peter Miller's Vermont People (Silver Print Press) has a "biopic" of a Mr. Larry Benoit, a modern-era, regionally renowned deer hunter originally from the Montgomery, VT area. Mr. Benoit freely credits his hunting prowess, in part, to an admitted Indian ancestry. The Montgomery Benoits may be the "tip of the iceberg" of yet another, still unstudied regional partitioning family band. This distinctive, family band-based subsistence pattern is similar to that described by anthropologist Frank Speck in pp. 203 – 212 of Penobscot Man; a persistent Indigenous land use and tenure pattern that is repeated in other VT cultural regions.
It was in Swanton's Back Bay where the family band leaders met around the kitchen tables that began Missisquoi's well documented cultural revival in the 1960's (Figure 8). Research done for the St. Francis/Sokoki Band recognition petition to the federal government, showed a statistically significant rate of endogamy (in-marriage) in the Back Bay community at this time – evidence of mid-century ethnic/cultural distinctness and a communal separation from the larger Franklin County, VT community. For ease of communication, this indigenous community abandoned the "St. Francis Indian" appellation (except-for political purposes), and adopted the Euroamerican term "Abenaki" with the English (Ā-ben-aki) rather than Quebequois (A-ben'-aki) pronunciation. The "A-ben-aki" accenting became a cultural code for VT polity, and so has been a functional political/geographic separator of local Indigenous people, lineages and polities from their Quebec brethren and their supporters. As the early focus of the VT Abenaki renaissance, Missisquoi became a cultural magnet for other Vermont families and communities that retained a Native identity or memory of antecedent familial Native identity. Before the 1990's, it was the sole externally recognized Abenaki political entity in Vermont, and so attracted citizenship throughout the state and beyond its borders. It was a huge influence on other VT Indigenous regional leadership such as Nulhegan's Nancy Cote, or Koasek's Nancy Doucet, as they have repeatedly told scholars over the years. Since the 1970's there have been political splinter groups and schisms at Missisquoi caused by interpersonal rivalries and philosophical differences. These sub-groups either disintegrated (such as the Traditional Bands of Mazipskoik) or are family-based, and were therefore not a "tribe" in the political/legalistic sense we use in this paper. As the only 21st century "tribal" polity at Missisquoi; the St. Francis/Sokoki Band, with a proud history, a well established tribal census roll, headquarters and museum, as well as cultural and economic programs, and well represents its legacy.
Figure 9. 1950's-60's Hand loomed beaded leather brow-band.
This particular item is Fig. 42 Page 153 of Chapter "The Darkness Ends"
of Frederick Matthew Wiseman's book "The Voice of the Dawn"
The earliest known artifact of the Missisquoi Abenaki renaissance.
In the Voice of the Dawn Pg. 258-259 Wiseman states:
"42. Artifacts of the early Missisquoi Abenaki Renanissance.
Man's loom-beaded headband on leather
(St. Albans, Vermont ca. 1968)
NOTICE HOW HIS SCHOLARLY OPINION
HE "PUSHES" the "artifact" back into the "1950's"
In this section we have provided rich and layered forensic evidence of a community that was seen as Native by European observers over the years. It has left internally consistent archaeological and physical anthropological evidence of a corporate entity that had enough collective control over land resources to maintain a multi-generation 19th century burial ground. Missisquoi exhibits an extended riverine land use and tenure system that mirrors that of other regional native peoples. Missisquois were specifically described as Indian craftspeople throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, confirmed by remaining ethnically-distinctive baskets and tools. There remains abundant anecdotal memory in the community of distinctive "Indian" artifacts and language. The modern "St. Francis/Sokoki Band" polity is composed of tribal rolls of community members whose ancestry descends from these 19th and 20th century "Indians," exercises internal political power, and represents its citizens in local and state Euroamerican politics. It is our judgment that the St. Francis/Sokoki Band meets the cultural geographic and historical criteria for political designation as an Abenaki tribe.
What are the SOURCES for these baskets and other items/ "artifacts" Frederick Matthew Wiseman PhD cites in this "Decolonizing the Abenakis..."?
"Stories" are nice that he has placed with these items, yet what are the actual SOURCES for these particular items? Why has Mr. Wiseman PhD cited this "Something of Value paper" and not provided it as part of the record? Why are people able to "see" this "Decolonizing the Abenaki...." write-up and yet, people are unable to "see" (and review) the source of data, that went into creating this secondary (alleged scholarly) work of Mr. Wiseman's?
It appears that Mr. Frederick M. Wiseman is showing what is in his right hand, but hiding what he indicates is in his left hand (supposedly). He cites Calloway's "The Western Abenakis of Vemront, 1600-1800, War Migration , and the survival of an Indian Poeple" © 1990, that of William A. Haviland and Marjory W. Power's "The Original Vermonts, Native Inhabitants-Past and Present" © 1994(both books were HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY JOHN MOODY), and of course Mr. Frederick Matthew Wiseman cites HIMSELF, his books such at "The Voice of the Dawn, An Autohistory of the Abenaki Nation" © 2001.
(Yet, from what has been and is yet to be, posted, on this blog, is NOT in any of the afore-mentioned books regarding the so-called "Abenakis" in Vermont).
Did he buy them at auctionhouse(s), garage sale(s), eBay.com and or did he and/ or his sutdents acquire these baskets by some other method?
A good scholarly piece of work has verifiable SOURCES for EVERYTHING.
Since, in my thinking, these items Mr. Wiseman has cited (in this supposed scholarly work), are NOT PROPERLY SCHOLARLY SOURCED, the question begs to be inquired (and answered):
Did Mr. Fred Wiseman Sr. just appropriate someone else's cultural items and/or heritage (to fulfill his own created VT "Abenaki Recognition" Criteria? Do these items "belong" to the LaPan family, and he "used" these items without permission? Is the LaPan family members of the SAME group that Mr. PhD Wiseman is a member of?
No one even knows if these baskets (and other items) actually belong to families that belong to Missisiquoi (most of these items/ cited "artifacts" do not seem to have been kept WITHIN a so-called "Abenaki" family). Perhaps Frederick Matthew Wiseman PhD could very well be making up conclusions as he goes along (?), collecting these items at garage sales, estate's, auctionering events (one of these two baskets herein Mr. Wiseman bought at-auction from a Colleen Brow in or around Swanton, VT), and even obtaining items off from eBay.com with questionable/ dubious provenance!