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Monday, October 18, 2010

St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Vermont Abenakis: Proposed Finding--Summary Under the Criteria--That This Group Does Not Exist As A Indian or Abenaki Tribe: Pages 85 to 96:

St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Vermont Abenakis:
Proposed Finding - Summary Under the Criteria
Page 85
worked with the University of Vermont (UVM) to have some skeletal remains and grave objects held by the University returned and reburied, as well as excavating another archaeological site on Swanton's Monument Road. Minutes submitted by the petitioner include descriptions of Harvest Suppers attended by group members, and the start of "Operation Santa Claus," a program which distributes Christmas gifts to children. The group also obtained funding to move to a new headquarters and open a small cultural museum. It also purchased a parcel of land called Brunswick Springs. (71.) In 2004, the group produced a pageant (later made into a videotaped presentation) entitled Apciwi Bezegatag (Against the Darkness), which purports to demonstrate seven generations of the SSA community in Vermont from the 1790's to the present.

In addition to the "council" started in them early 1970's, the petitioner also instituted an organization called the Abenaki Self-Help Association, Incorporated in 1975. This group became very active applying for grants to provide services such as adult education and youth counseling (ASHAI Minutes 1978.02.02). It has continued to be active until the present, providing services such as a food pantry and tax form preparation assistance. However, the information submitted by the petitioner includes only a portion of the organization's minutes. The organization, which uses the term "Incorporated," in its title, has not submitted articles of incorporation or by-laws. The group submitted minutes from 1978 to 1984, but then submitted no minutes covering the next 17 years. When the ASHAI council began to hold joint meetings with the group's governing body in 2001, additional minutes were then submitted. (72.) Further, the minutes of the organization from 1978 until 1984 have all the participant's names blacked out. Other minutes have entire paragraphs blacked out, making it impossible to know what the group was discussing or who was being helped by this organization during this period. This information is important in determining how the group was constituted during this period. The petitioner has included no explanation as to why the minutes were not included, whether they were lost, stolen, destroyed, or if they ever existed in the first place. Tile petitioner should include its charter, articles of incorporation, and any other information relating to the establishment and functioning of the organization. To demonstrate the importance of the ASHAI organization to the group, the petitioner also should include as many copies of available ASHAI minutes, or provide some explanation as to why the information is unavailable. Further, the group should also submit uncensored copies of the 1978 to 1984 records.

Relations Between the Petitioner and Odanak

In the early 1970's, the SSA made overtures to the leadership of the Odanak reservation in Canada. Before this time, there is no available evidence demonstrating any contact between the two groups. In 1976, the council of Odanak passed a resolution acknowledging the group and
71. Brunswick Springs apparently was acquired by the group at some point in the mid-1990's (the actual date of acquisition is not included in the petition, but it is mentioned in the group's minuses in 1996). It is located in the town of Brunswick, Vermont, approximately 70 miles east of Swanton on the New Hampshire border. The spring is described in subsequent documents as "sacred," but there is no mention of this spring in any documentation submitted in the petition before the 1990's. In 2004, the land was sold to the Vermont Land Trust, which will prohibit any future development on the site (http://www.vermonter.com/

72. Additionally, eleven years' worth of the group's council minutes (1985- 1996) have not been submitted to OFA. The group has not explained the absence of these minutes.
St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Vermont Abenakis:
Proposed Finding - Summary Under the Criteria
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requesting that Vermont honor its land claims and hunting and fishing rights (Abenaki of Odanak and Becancour 1976.08.20, 1). A 1977 resolution is also mentioned in the petition, but no copy of it was included in the submission. Documentation in the petition indicates that there may have been some correspondence between the governing bodies of both groups after 1977, but it does not appear to have been on a regular basis. There are some examples of cultural activities, such as the formation of a dance group, involving members from both the SSA and Odanak (Vermont Folklife Center 1997.00.00, 15), but these activities did not occur until the 1980's and 1990's.

In the 1990's the SSA participated in the repatriation of certain skeletal materials found in 1973 at a site on Monument Road, an area of Swanton where many of the petitioner's families either live or had lived. The group eventually obtained the remains from the University of Vermont and, in partnership with the State and local historic preservation societies, purchased land to rebury the remains (Thompson 1996.09.27). Although Gilles O'Bomsawin, as president of the "Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation," wrote a 1999 letter of support for the repatriation of the remains to the Vermont group, a 2003 letter from the council of Odanak to the State of Vermont's "Division for Historical Preservation" appears to be evidence of a shift in attitude. This letter, submitted by the State, was accompanied by a copy of a 2003 resolution by the governing body of Odanak and Wolinak, which rescinded its recognition of ... "any organizations claiming to be First Nations in the United States or Canada, with the exceptions of our brothers and sisters at Wolinak and Penobscot" (Abenaki of Odanak and Wolinak 2003.09.29, npn). In this same resolution, the group stated the following:

While we recognize that the Band Councils of Odanak and Wolinak [the Abenaki name for the Canadian reservation previously referred to as "Becancour"] issued resolutions in 1976 and 1977 recognizing the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenakis as a group of Abenakis living in the United States, we also recognize that these resolutions were not based on any genealogical or historical evidence linking these "St. Francis/ Sokoki" to our Abenaki and Sokoki ancestors. (Abenaki of Odanak and Wolinak 2003.09.29, npn)

In the letter accompanying the resolution, the same Gilles O'Bomsawin, now Chief of the Band Council of Odanak, also stated as follows:

We understand that your office [the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation] currently deals with an entity known as the "Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi," led by April St. Francis Rushlow. Please be advised that we have no knowledge of this organization's alledged [sic] connections to our ancestors. We knew nothing of them until the 1970's, and they have done nothing to prove their identity to us . . . Accordingly, we request that you no longer deal with this organization and instead begin to deal with us on all matters related to our ancestors and our cultural patrimony. (O'Bomsawin to Wadhams, 2003.09.02, npn)

The SSA appear to have received a copy of this letter, as the minutes of a 2003 meeting state "Chief showed Tribal council a letter Chief Gilles Obomsawin [sic] sent to State. Chief says she will call him tomorrow to find out why he sent this letter" (ATC and ASHAI 2003.10.06, 1).
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A subsequent letter from Gilles O'Bomasawin, dated April 4, 2005, makes no reference to the 2003 letter or the council resolution, and appears to be a response to a meeting between him and Ms. St. Francis-Merrill. The letter states as follows (all spelling, grammar, and punctuation sic).

We know our people, our members our descendant; so to me it still stands that someone who claims to be Abenaki from Odanak has to prove it. And also I, as Chief, have to respect the demands of our registered members who are not even reconized in Vermont ... so by that we have to be strict and hard, we have to Trove who we-are and who they the members are.

So by this my solution (may be) and I say may be the thing to do is try to unite with the Abenakis of Vermont by this I say not all the Wannabees that spring out of every bush... They are the ones who realy hurt you and I and the real members who have suffered ... A nation in Vermon did exists and still does.

By this I mean a nation of many clans, the bear, the Wolf, and so many more that formed the Wabanaki Confederacy. . : (OBomsawin 2005.04.04, 1-2).

Although the petitioner maintains that the April 4, 2005, letter should call into question the previous correspondence from Odanak submitted to OFA by the State of Vermont (SSA 2005.04.11, 4), the letter is actually very ambiguous. The letter did not include any mention of rescinding the 2003 council resolution, nor was the letter signed by any members of the 0danak council other than Gilles O'Bomsawin. The petitioner should submit other examples of its relationship with the governing body of Odanak if it wishes to clarify its relationship with the Canadian tribe.

Defining the Community

One of the most consistent problems with the SSA petition is the lack of a definition of community membership. Before the formal organization of the group in the early 1970s, the petitioner stated that it had never maintained any type of list of members because everyone in the community knew each other, making an official list unnecessary. Since no list of "Western Abenaki" had been compiled by any United States authority, (73.) the group chose to construct its membership based on the approval of prospective members by the group's governing body. When the group's first list was compiled, the membership criteria were apparently very open. Although certain "core" and "lesser" families were said to make up much of the membership, as many as one-third of the membership were described as people who claimed a separate Indian identity (there is no information regarding how these "claims" of Indian identity were vetted by the group). Some of these people had married into the group, while others had been drawn to the organization's activities (SSA 1982. 10.00 Petition, 117). Nevertheless, the group claimed in
73. The Canadian government did take several censuses of the St. Francis/Odanak reservation between 1850 and 1900, and also compiled other documents listing the residents of the reservation as well as those who had moved off the reservation. Several of these 19th century documents were submitted by the State. One census from 1875 (Recensement du Villages 1875: npn) names several families as "Absents aux Etats" (Absent in the States), but none of the petitioner's members have claimed descent from any of those particular St. Francis Abenaki families. The United States government does have records for the Penobscot, an Eastern Abenaki group in Maine.
St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Vermont Abenakis:
Proposed Finding - Summary Under the Criteria
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1982 to have a membership of 935 adults and 750 children under age 15 for a total of 1,685 members. Minutes submitted by the group from a 1982 meeting indicate that some people applying for "enfranchisement" were accepted and others rejected (SSA Minutes 1982.01.22, 1), but the minutes include no discussion of the reasons for these decisions. 'File membership list submitted with the petition in 1982, along with supplemental appendices and additional membership information submitted in 1986, was returned to the group in 1989 (BAR 1989.00.00 Abenaki Inventory), and was not resubmitted (see the "Administrative History" for a discussion of the return request for this information). The group has since indicated that it will not submit the 1975 or 1986 memberships rolls because "Some Tribal Members who were listed on the earlier Tribal Rolls adamantly refuse to allow their identity to be known...we assured those members that their names wouldn't be included in a list sent to the B.I.A" (St. Francis-Merrill to AS-IA 2005, 2). The petitioner's decision not to resubmit these rolls makes it nearly impossible to determine continuity for the group since 1975.

The next list submitted for examination was in 1995. It enumerated 1,248 members, 437 fewer members than the 1982 list. (74.) However, it is impossible to determine which members were removed from the group or if they withdrew voluntarily. There is also no means to determine who may have joined or left the group during the interim.

Information included in the petition indicates that the standards for membership became more formalized in the 1995 constitution, with a specific emphasis on being able to trace descent from  the 1765 Robinson's Lease. (75.) Although the lease had been regarded as an important document by the group, the 1995 constitution was the first time it was specifically mentioned as a source document for descent. However, other people who could not meet this particular standard were still able to qualify with the approval of the group's governing body.

The membership list received on May 13, 2005 (designated by OFA as "2005A") is the most confusing because it is divided into several sections. Minutes submitted by the petitioner indicate that before 1997 the membership had been divided into separate categories: "A1," "A2," and "3" (ATC Minutes 1997.08.12, 2). (76 .) The petitioner was asked to provide information clarifying these categories, and a letter received August 23, 2005, defined the "A1" group as members with complete membership files. According to the minutes submitted by the group, and confirmed by the petitioner's correspondence, "AI" members are the only members eligible to vote in the group's elections (ATC Minutes 1997.08.12, 2). The "A2" individuals are described as "Abenaki," but cannot vote until they complete their files as requested" (St. Francis
74. The petition actually listed 1,257 people, but included seven double-listings and one triple-listing. A total of 1,248 members were left after these redundancies were eliminated.

75. For more Information about the lease and for specific problems with the group using this standard to demonstrate descent, see criterion 83.7(e).

76. The original 2005 membership submission included 59 people in the category "M2" ("looking for more proof') and 30 in the category "0" ("Families with Descendants from Odanak"). According to the August 23, 2005, correspondence, these individuals are not members. There are also 113 people listed as "Not Abenaki" in the original 2005 submission, but there is no information regarding how these people were determined to be "Not Abenaki" (there was no information as to whether these people had once been considered members, or if they had applied for membership and been turned down).
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Merrill to AS-IA 2005, 1). The "3" individuals are described in the correspondence as people who "have applied for citizenship, but we do not know if they are Abenaki" (St. Francis-Merrill to AS-IA 2005; 1 ), and are therefore not members. The August 23, 2005, correspondences included a list (designated by OFA as "2005B") of "A1" members, and "A2" members. On 2005B, the group listed 1,171 "A1" members, both adults and children; the second list designated 1,335 adults and children as "A2" member However, there is no information in the submission clarifying how the "A2" members are able to participate in the group if they are ineligible to vote. The petitioner did not explain if the "A2" members are allowed to attend meetings even if they cannot vote. The petition did not detail if these individuals are permitted to participate in the various cultural programs established by the group, and, if they are permitted to attend, whether or not they actually participate. Additional documentation such as records from ASHAI might indicate who was being served by the organization, but few records have been submitted.

The lack of a consistent standard of membership and the difficulties in identifying members on the group's membership lists make it impossible to define what the petitioner means when it refers to "the community." No assumptions about the history of the group or its current membership can be made because of these inconsistencies. The petitioner should document changes in the composition of the group, such as submitting a list of people who have withdrawn voluntarily from the SSA and the date these withdrawals took place. The group should also -compile a list of people removed involuntarily from the group's roll, the date of removal, and the reason for the removal. Other information, such as captioned event photographs, sign-in sheets from group activities, or condolence books from funerals or guest books from weddings would further help to define the community and indicate the social relationships among the members of the group.

Conclusion, 1900-2005

The petitioner has not demonstrated that a distinct community of the petitioner's claimed ancestors existed in Franklin County, Vermont, and therefore does not satisfy the requirements for criterion 83.7(b) for any time since 1900. The lack of coherent membership information indicates a very amorphous group, with no clearly-defined, consistent standards for membership. Without this information, it is not possible to determine who was supposed to have been a member of this "group" before the 1970's. The petition also lacks the type of evidence which, in the absence of formal lists, would help to define the makeup of a community, such as lists of attendees at meetings or other gatherings, letters detailing interaction among people in religious or social organizations, or journals describing the participation by people in rituals such as baptisms, marriages, and funerals.

The information presented by the petitioner does not indicate the presence of a group or a community of the petitioner's claimed ancestors before the early 1970's; rather, it indicates only that some of the current petitioner's claimed ancestors lived in Franklin County (particularly in
77. The 2005 revised list ("2005 13") actually totaled 1,204 "A1" members and 1,335 "A2" members (these totals include children). However 33 of these members were also included on both the "AD" and "A2" lists. They were
St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Vermont Abenakis:
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Swanton) during the 20th century. Information provided by the petitioner does not show that these claimed ancestors formed an "enclave" in the town of Swanton. Some claimed ancestors apparently lived on the streets defined as making up "Back Bay," but others lived elsewhere in the town. The petitioner has not demonstrated the existence of a distinct community within Swanton consisting of the petitioner's claimed ancestors, or that those claimed ancestors constituted a "community-within-a-communty" among the Catholic families in the town. The petitioner has also not demonstrated that assorted references to "Abenaki" Indians refer to its claimed ancestors, rather than to Abenaki from Maine or Canada who traveled to the area to hunt; fish, or sell crafts.

After the formal organization of the SSA in the early 1970's, the group became a somewhat more organized body, with an emphasis on providing services such as after-school programs and vocational training through ASHAI. The group has also introduced some elements of Western Abenaki and pan-Indian culture into its gatherings, sought to establish both political and social ties with the Canadian Abenaki of Odanak, and has actively tried to establish relations with other unrecognized groups and recognized Indian tribes. These developments notwithstanding, the group has not displayed a level of community that would meet criterion 83.7(b) for this period. The social and cultural elements are of recent introduction, and there is not enough information to indicate that these events are of more than symbolic value to the group as a whole, rather than to a few involved members. Although the group has arranged events that allow members of the group to congregate, the petitioner has not demonstrated that a significant portion of its membership regularly associate with each other. The lack of documentation also makes it difficult to determine who among the membership has participated in the group's various activities.

To rectify the many deficiencies in the petition, the group must submit more documentation to substantiate its claims. This documentation would include (but are not limited to) additional census records, minutes from the group's council and the ASHAI, captioned photographs, sign-in books, and other evidence of social gatherings. The group must also submit the vital records (birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records and the like) described in the petition to demonstrate descent, and copies of any other vital records that the group maintains demonstrate evidence of community (for example, copies of death certificates that indicate that a single person served as an informant for a number of people outside their families). Other records, such as baptismal certificates, might also help to demonstrate social connections among purported members of the community. Family journals and letters from the early 20th century might also help to clarify the membership and describe some of the activities of the petitioner's claimed ancestors before to the 1970s. Further, the group should provide further clarification of the various levels of membership described in the 2005 membership roll to determine the relationship between the "A1" and "A2" individuals and define how membership in the group is comprised.
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Criterion 83.7(c) requires that the petitioner has maintained political influence or authority over its members as an autonomous entity
from historical times until the present.


Under the acknowledgment the regulations, a petitioner must be a distinct political body, able to exercise significant formal or informal influence over its members, who in turn influence the policies and actions of the leadership. The regulations do not require that political influence be exercised over all aspects of the lives of the members of a petitioning group. They do not require that the group influence people or governments outside of the group. Significant political relationships are more than those maintained in a social club or other voluntary organizations, in which leaders have authority over very limited aspects of an individual's life.

It must also be shown that there is a political connection between the membership and the action being taken. Groups that lack a bilateral political relationship between members and leaders would not meet criterion 83.7(c). Such a lack would be evident if a small group of people carry out actions or legal agreements affecting the economic interests of the group without much political process going on or without the awareness or consent of those affected.

The petitioner should demonstrate there exists now and has existed throughout its history a method of dealing with group problems and making group decisions. An analysis of the available evidence demonstrates the petitioner has not maintained political influence over its members throughout its history as an autonomous Indian entity.

The Petitioner's Claims and the State's Comments

The petitioner claims the group expressed political influence mainly through "family bands" before the formation of its council in the middle of the 1970's. In its 1982 submission, the group explained the political influence of these families during the colonial period:

It is a matter of speculation to what degree these families from Missisquoi constituted a distinct entity that superceded the autonomy of family hunting bands, especially in the Missisquoi region where natural abundance allowed families whatever autonomy they desired. Research on the social and political organization of Eastern Woodland Bands suggests that families acted independently and as separate groups whenever possible. Indeed, the independent family band was the normative pattern of social and political organization. (SSA 1982. 10.00 Petition, 159-160)

Apparently, named political leaders within this political system were necessary only when dealing with non-Indians or their government officials. Regarding the post-colonial period, the petitioner claimed:
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Once Abenaki families realized that the wave of settlement at Missisquoi was unstoppable, and that traditional lands would be lost, they stopped dealing with the Anglo-American authorities ... and learne to live in the context of the newly developing society, maintaining the traditional organization of the extended family band. While the role of the political "head" for external dealings became unnecessary, the role of leadership and influence in families and neighborhoods continued. (SSA 1982. 10.00 Petition, 161)

In its response, the State countered the petitioner's claims:

The petitioner has not submitted evidence of political authority or a political organization governing an Abenaki tribe in Vermont from 1800 to 1974. There is a glaring example of the lack of political authority in the 1950's when Caughnawaga Mohawks laid claim to land in Vermont. While a political organization was created in 1974, it appeared to be a separate organization from whatever might have existed in the eighteenth century. As discussed under Criteria (b) and (e), there is no significant overlap of individuals and their descendants between the eighteenth century tribe and the group created in the 1970's. (VER 2002.12.00-2003.01.00 [Response], 160)

Evidence for Political Influence, 1600-1900

Leadership during the 17th and 18th Centuries

The petitioner's contention that independent family bands rather than formal leaders or "chiefs" were the center of political influence for Western Abenakis was not shared by Gordon Day, the leading authority on the tribe. Day defined the Western Abenaki social organization during the colonial period in this way:

Western Abenaki society was patrilineal. The basic unit was the household, one to several nuclear families of the same patrilineage living together in one long bark house. The formal unit was a patrilineal totemic descent group regarded as the descendants of a remote male ancestor, not of the totem animal, together with their wives and children. The tribe was denoted "all the households together." (Day 1978a, 156)

But regarding its political organization, he explained as follows:

Each Western Abenaki nation had a civil chief and a war chief. A chief was selected for outstanding ability and installed in a chief-making ceremony in which he received a new name. His influence was considerable because of his prestige and personal powers, but the extent of his absolute authority is uncertain. Chiefs held office for life unless they were deposed for bad behavior. The civil chief usually presided at the Great Council of the nation, which was composed of the war chief and the elders of the several families. At Saint Francis [Odanak] the council consisted, by the eighteenth century, of a grand chief and several chiefs,
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probably as an accommodation to the diverse elements that had come together there. (Day 1978a, 156)

The names and political activities of most of these chiefs are not well known. Historical records reveal two well-documented political figures among the Western Abenaki before 1800 -- Grey Lock and Joseph-Louis Gill. Colin Calloway described Grey Lock as the leader of a group of Indian warriors fighting the Massachusetts militia during Dummer's War in the 1720's. He became the "leader of the Missisquoi Indians at the northern end of Lake Champlain," and the "arch enemy" of the colony "in the western theater of the war" (Calloway 1987, 212-214). Yet, Grey Lock was actually a Woronoke Indian from western Massachusetts. He had fled his home territory during King Phillip's War, finding his way to the Lake Champlain region by the 1720's, where he "attracted a following of refugee warriors, including discontented Schaghticoke, who were determined to resist English expansion" (Calloway 1987, 214). He had his headquarters "on a small creek some distance from the main village and fields at Missisquoi," where this "encampment of warriors" drew "on the main village for manpower" (Calloway 1987, 214). This elusive Indian chief and his fellow warriors conducted a fairly successful guerilla war against the colonists throughout most of the 1720's. But he did not participate in the 1727 peace treaty, and disappears from English records after the war. He may be the Jean-Pierre, father of the Jean-Baptiste, whose name appeared in a 1740 baptism record from the registers of Fort Saint-Frederic. His death date is unknown, but he may have died between 1744 and 1753. The names of most of his fellow warriors also remain unknown (Calloway 1987, 224; Day 1965, 265-266).

Joseph-Louis Gill was known as the "white chief of St. Francis." He was the son of two white captives of the Abenakis, a man named Samuel Gill, taken prisoner in 1697, and a woman called "Miss James," kidnapped some time later. The two captives married around 1715, and the tribe adopted them and their resulting seven children, who were raised as Roman Catholic Abenaki. Some of this captive couple's children eventually married Indians, including Joseph, their second child and first son. Joseph-Louis Gill was elected sagamore of the Abenaki in the late 1740's, after taking part in a campaign with the French against the Miami Indians. As sagamore, he participated as a military leader against the British in both the French and Indian War and the American Revolution (Huden 1956b, 199-207; 1956c, 337-347). He died in 1798.

A 1765 colonial document (with transcription), in English, submitted by the petitioner and commonly known as "Robertson's Lease," names 10 individuals as grantors of land to one James Robertson for a lease of 91 years (Robertson 1765.05.28). Although no chief is specifically named in this document, a woman named Charlotte [no surname] is identified as the "widow of the late chief of the Abenackque Nation at Missisque[?]." The document does not identify Charlotte's late husband. A comparison of the names of the individuals identified on the 1765 Robertson lease with other records does not connect the petitioner's known or claimed ancestors to the individuals named on this document.

Conclusion Regarding Political Evidence during the 17th and 18th Centuries

As described in criterion 83.7(b), the available evidence does not demonstrate the current petitioner or its claimed ancestral families descended from or evolved socially as a group from
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any Western Abenaki tribe either in Quebec or Vermont. Thus, evidence of political activity from Western Abenaki chiefs like Grey Lock and Joseph-Louis Gill during the colonial period does not demonstrate political influence among the petitioning group's claimed ancestors, whom the petitioner has failed to demonstrate had any connection to the known historical Western Abenaki nation. There is also no evidence linking the late husband of the widow "Charlotte" to any of the known or claimed ancestors of the petitioning group. The petitioner has not provided evidence of what its specific claimed ancestors were doing as a group to exercise political influence before 1800 and is encouraged to do so. The petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Political Influence or Authority in the 19th Century: The Iroquois Land Claims, 1798-1874

There is one important set of Vermont records that indicate the lack of any identifiable Western Abenaki group exercising political influence in Vermont during the 19th century. These are six claims from 1798 to 1874 by the Iroquois [Caughnawaga or Mohawk] Indians for over two million acres of land in Vermont. A summary of the documents follows:

October 1798: The Indian Chiefs of the Seven Nations of Lower Canada brought a petition for land claims in the northwest part of the State to the legislature in Vergennes, Vermont. The petition was apparently signed by 20 chiefs but the submission provided has no record of their names. The Abenaki were mentioned directly in only one section, an inquiry to the Governor in which the chiefs stated the following: "You enquire who were our neighbors, to which we answer, that on the southwest were the Stockbridges, and on the northeast by [sic] the Abenakees of St. Francis. . ." (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 314). The Abenakis would have been one of the seven nations, but there is no indication the petition was brought on behalf of all the nations or just the Mohawk. If it were brought on behalf of all, the Abenaki were clearly no longer in Vermont but in St. Francis at Odanak in Quebec, and were permitting the Iroquois to advance a claim for land from their historical territory. If there were a large number of Indians who were the petitioner's claimed ancestors still living in northwestern Vermont at that time, 300, or possibly even as many as 3,000 as the petitioner claimed, presumably the Governor or legislature would have acknowledged them as having possible first claim to compensation for the land. But neither did, and the Iroquois claim was rejected by the legislature without reference to any Abenaki entity. In the Governor's 1799 report on the land claims, he discussed only one Indian group, which he referred to as "[t]hese Indians, the Cognawagahs [sic]," who were part of a six -nation Iroquois which withdrew during the French and Indian War (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 319). This indicated that the Mohawk were the only group actually pressing the claim.

October 1800: In this year, the Mohawk renewed their claim "joined by a representation from the Abenaki nation." This statement suggests that the Abenaki were probably not part of the 1798 petition (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 321). The one document regarding this claim, the Governor's report, did not identify who these Abenaki chiefs were, their number, or point of origin. Given the Iroquois claimants' description of the location of their Abenaki neighbors in 1798, it is reasonable to assume these neighbors were from St. Francis in Quebec. No Abenaki from Vermont or Canada ever again joined with the Mohawk to press the many land claims they brought before the legislature up to 1874 and again in the 1950's (see
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later section of this criterion for a discussion of the 1950's claims). The legislature also rejected this petition (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 321-322).

October 1812: The Mohawk again submitted a land-claim petition. No Abenaki group from Vermont or Canada vvas described in the document, and the legislature again rejected the petition (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 322-325).

October 1826: The Mohawk brought another claim that was rejected. No Abenaki group was described in the document (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 325-328).

June 1853: This time the Mohawk were joined by the Iroquois at St. Regis and the Lake of Two Mountains. The legislature again rejected the petition. Six chiefs were identified as Mohawk, five as St. Regis, and two as Lake of Two Mountain; none as Vermont Abenaki (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 328-343).

October 1874: The same three groups as in 1854 brought suit and were again rejected. No one in the documents was described as Abenaki (Governor and Council of Vermont 1880.00.00, 343361).

These documents suggest no Western Abenaki entity containing the petitioner's claimed ancestors existed in northwestern Vermont in the 19th century capable of exercising political authority or influence. Except for the 1800 petition, which mentions unidentified Abenakis representatives of unknown origin, all these petitions were the work of the Canadian Iroquois. If, as the petitioner claims, 1,000 to 3,000 of its claimed ancestors lived in northwestern Vermont from 1790 to 1910, it is reasonable to assume someone from this group of people would have protested this attempt by an outside Indian entity to claim their ancestral lands. But none did.

The petitioner has not submitted evidence to demonstrate how its claimed ancestors exercised political influence or authority as a group from 1800 to 1875. The petitioner is encouraged to review the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) and to submit evidence that its claimed ancestors maintained political influence or authority over each other as an autonomous entity during this period.

Informal Leadership during the Late 19th Century

The petitioner has claimed a few individuals were informal leaders during the late 19th century, beginning with Nazaire St. Francis (1868-1936), the grandfather of Homer St. Francis, one of the group's leaders in the late 20th century. According to the group's 1982 narrative,

[h]is grandchildren remember him returning home in the evenings with the odds and ends he had collected from the houses and stores he had visited, old clothes and unsold food, which he would then redistribute among the children in the Back Bay where he lived. . . . [His daughter Claire] grew large gardens in back of their home, from which she would distributed excess food to the other families in the Back Bay [section of Swanton], just as their father had done. (SSA 1982. 10.00 Petition, 79-81)
St. Francis/ Sokoki Band of Vermont Abenakis:
Proposed Finding - Summary Under the Criteria
Page 96
To demonstrate this alleged political leadership, the petitioner should provide more evidence of the activities of the St. Francis family. Providing children with food and clothes does not necessarily demonstrate leadership. The petitioner should also identify the people who were the recipients of the food and clothes said to have been redistributed by Nazaire St. Francis (arid his daughter Claire) to demonstrate that the petitioner's ancestors were involved in a network of mutual assistance that marked them as distinct from the rest of the community. The petitioner should consider obtaining information from other sources to determine if other people in the Swanton area described the activities of Nazaire St. Francis which show he was a leader or exerted influence among the "Back Bay" residents or of an Indian community. Records such as court documents or social-service records might indicate whether residents asked him for assistance, or if local officials consulted him regarding problems with people from "Back Bay."

The petition also identified Cordelia (Freemore) Brow aka Mrs. John Brow (1836-1923) as a midwife and informal leader in "Back Bay" into the early 20th century. Her role as a midwife was discussed under criterion 83.7(b), but the petition has not included sufficient information regarding her activities during the late 19th century. A portion of an interview with a granddaughter claims that Brow broke up fights in people's homes, but does not identify whether these were fights between the petitioner's claimed ancestors or merely anyone living in the area (SSA 1982. 10.00 Petition, 75). The petitioner has not provided any other details of her activities as a leader in "Back Bay." To demonstrate her alleged leadership, the petitioner should include more information about specific actions taken by Cordelia Brow during the late 1800's, and should also search for any documentary evidence that external authorities viewed Brow as a person of influence among "Back Bay" residents or among members of an "Indian" community.

Conclusion Regarding Political Evidence for the 19th Century

The available evidence does not show informal or formal political authority or influence on the part of the petitioner's claimed ancestral families before 1900. Therefore, the petitioner does not meet the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) from 1800 to 1900. The petitioner is encouraged to review the requirements of criterion 83.7(c) and to submit additional evidence that its claimed ancestors maintained political influence or authority over each other as an autonomous entity during this period.

Leadership, 1900 to 1975

The petitioner has presented no evidence of any formal leadership structure within the group before the formation of the group's council and the ASHAI in the 1970's. The petitioner maintains that informal leaders, particularly heads of families, served to maintain order in the community. The evidence submitted by the petitioner is mostly limited to four oral histories, some charts included with the 1986 response, and additional excerpts from other interviews not in the petition. The petitioner is, again, strongly encouraged to submit the full text of interviews excerpted in the group's 1982 Narrative and the 1986 Response to the Obvious Deficiencies.

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