The Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs to which was referred Senate Bill No. 222 entitled "An act relating to recognition of Abenaki tribes" respectfully reports that it has considered the same and recommends that the House propose to the Senate that the bill be amended by striking out all after the enacting clause and inserting in lieu thereof the following:
Sec. 1. 1 V.S.A. § 851 is amended to read:
§ 851. FINDINGS
The general assembly finds that:
(1) At least 1,700 Vermonters claim to be direct descendants of the several indigenous Native American peoples, now known as Western Abenaki tribes, who originally inhabited all of Vermont and New Hampshire, parts of western Maine, parts of southern Quebec, and parts of upstate New York for hundreds of years, beginning long before the arrival of Europeans.
(2) There is ample archaeological evidence that demonstrates that the Missisquoi Abenaki were indigenous to and farmed the river floodplains of Vermont at least as far back as the 1100s A.D.
(3) The Western Abenaki, including the Missisquoi, have a very definite and carefully maintained oral tradition that consistently references the Champlain valley in western Vermont.
(4) State recognition confers official acknowledgment of the longstanding existence in Vermont of Native American Indians who predated European settlement and enhances dignity and pride in their heritage and community.
(5) Federal programs may be available to assist with educational and cultural opportunities for Vermont Abenaki and other Native Americans who reside in Vermont
promote any form of prohibited gambling activity or to claim any interest in land or real estate in Vermont.
[(10) The general assembly has not conferred vested authority to the Commission to recognize Native American tribes, bands, or organizations within the State of Vermont. The commission's role in the recognition process is to collect the applications for recognition, oversee the process, forward the findings of the three person panel of scholars to the general assembly for review, and to provide a recommendation to the legislative committee.] (IN RED)
Sec. 2. Chapter 23 of Title 1 is amended to read:
Sec. 3. 1 V.S.A. § 852 is amended to read:
§ 852. VERMONT COMMISSION ON NATIVE AMERICAN AFFAIRS ESTABLISHED; AUTHORITY
(a) In order to recognize the historic and cultural contributions of Native Americans to Vermont, to protect and strengthen their heritage, and to address their needs in state policy, programs, and actions, there is hereby established the Vermont commission on Native American affairs (the "commission").
(b) The commission shall
[(1) Recommendations from Native American communities who reside in Vermont.
(2) Candidates who apply in response to solicitations and publications by the division of historic preservation. Candidates must have a legal residence in Vermont and must denote any Native American affiliation. There is no requirement of the applicant to be of Native American heritage or have any Native American affiliation to apply.]
(c) The commission shall
(1) Elect a chair each year.
(B) Develop and market Vermont Native American fine and performing arts, craft work, and cultural events.
(8) Develop policies and programs to benefit Vermont's Native American Indian population [within the scope of the commission's authority listed in this section.]
(d) The commission shall meet at least three times a year and at any other times at the request of the chair. The division of historic preservation within the agency of commerce and community development
(e) The commission may seek and receive funding from federal and other sources to assist with its work.
Sec. 4. 1 V.S.A. § 853 is amended to read:
§ 853. CRITERIA AND PROCESS FOR STATE RECOGNITION OF
[(a) The state of Vermont recognizes all individuals of Native American heritage who reside in Vermont as an ethnic minority. This designation does not confer any status to any collective group of people.]
(1) "Applicants" means a [native] group or band seeking formal state recognition as a Native American Indian tribe.
(2) "Legislative committees" means the [Vermont general assembly committee assigned to review applicant petitions for recognition,
(3) "Recognized" or "recognition" means acknowledged as a Native American Indian tribe by the Vermont general assembly, [or the commission].
(4) "Tribe" means an assembly of Native American Indian people who are related to each other by kinship and [
(1) A majority of the applicant's members currently reside in a specific geographic location within Vermont.
() The applicant has a [collective political organization that][
physical anthropology, history, folklore, or any other applicable scholarly research and data.
(A) To preserve, document, and promote its Native American Indian culture and history, and this purpose is reflected in its bylaws.
(B) To address the social, [political, diplomatic, sovereign,] economic, or cultural needs of the members with ongoing educational programs and activities.
(A) Municipal, state or federal authorities that document the applicant's history of tribe-related business and activities.
(B) Tribes in and outside Vermont that attest to the Native American Indian heritage of the applicant.
(c) The commission shall consider the application pursuant to the following process established by [the commission][this statute] which shall include at least the following requirements:
(1) The commission shall:
(A) Provide public notice of receipt of the application and supporting documentation.
(B) Hold at least one public hearing on the application. (B) Provide written notice of completion of each step of the recognition process to the applicant [and legislative committee].
(2) Established appropriate time frames that include a requirement that the commission [and its review panel] complete review of the application and issue a determination regarding recognition within one year after an application and all the supporting documentation have been filed, and if a recommendation is not issued, the commission shall provide written explanation to the applicant and the legislative committees of the reasons for the delay and the expected date that a decision will be issued.
(3) A process for appointing a three-member review panel for each application to review the supporting documentation and determine its sufficiency, accuracy, and relevance. The review panel shall provide a detailed written report of its findings and conclusions to the commission, the applicant, and legislative committees. Members of each review panel shall be appointed cooperatively by the commission and the applicant from a list of professionals and academic scholars with expertise in cultural or physical anthropology, Indian law, archeology, Native American [
history, or another related Native American [
of the review panel may be a member of the commission or affiliated with or on the tribal rolls of the applicant.
(4) The commission shall review the application, the supporting documentation, the report from the review panel, and any other relevant information to determine compliance with the subsection (b) of this section and make a determination to recommend or deny recognition. The decision to recommend [or deny] recognition [to the legislative committee] shall require a majority vote of all eligible members of the commission. A member of the commission who is on the tribal roll of the applicant is ineligible to participate in any action regarding the application. If the commission denies recognition, the commission shall provide the applicant and the legislative committees with written notice of the reasons for the denial, including specifies of all insufficiencies of the application. [The legislative committee][will then review the application for recognition and determine if the application should move forward or if further documentation is in fact needed.]
(5) [If the legislative committee determines that the applicant needs additional documentation, the applicant has up to one year to provide the additional supporting documentation before a committee hearing is scheduled.
(6) An applicant may withdraw an applicationl [at] any time before the [commission] the [legislature committee] issues a decision, and may not file a new application for two years following withdrawal. A new application and supporting documentation shall be considered a de novo filing, and the [
(7) If the commission recommends [or denies to the legislative committee] that the applicant be recognized as a Native American Indian tribe, the commission] that the applicant be recognized as a Native American Indian tribe, the commission shall provide a detailed written report of its findings and conclusions to the applicant and the legislative committees along with a reccommendation that that general assembly recognize [or deny] the applicant as a Native American Indian tribe. [Once the legislative committee hearing will be scheduled to take testimony from all interested parties.]
(8) All proceedings, applications, and supporting documentation shall be public except material exempt pursuant to subsection 317 of this title.
(d) An applicant for recognition shall be recognized as follows:
(1) By approval of the general assembly.
(e) A decision by the [
(f) Vermont Native American Indian bands and tribes and individual members of those bands and tribes remain subject to all the laws of the state.
(g) Recognition of a Native American Indian tribe shall not be construed to create, extend, or form the basis of any right or claim to land or real estate in Vermont or right to conduct any gambling activities prohibited by law, but confers only those rights specifically described in this chapter.
Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect on passage.
and that the bill title be amended to read: "An act relating to state recognition of Native American Indian tribes in Vermont"
[Upon passage of this act, the existing terms of the commission members will be considered fulfilled. Any existing members will be required to go through the application process with the department of historic preservation as a new candidate to be considered for a seat on the commission.]