-moz-user-select:none; -webkit-user-select:none; -khtml-user-select:none; -ms-user-select:none; user-select:none;

Friday, November 5, 2010

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 33 to 40:

white relatives in the records cannot be used as justification for the existence of a continuous Indian community in Missisquoi.
The sixth piece of evidence relied upon by the petitioner in its argument that
Abenakis continued to live in Missisquoi is Lewis Cass Aldrich's History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties, in which he reported that bands of eight to ten families drifted back "to favorite camping grounds to spend part of the year, up to as late as 1835 or 1840" Petition:71, quoting Aldrich 1891:28). By its very wording, this statement describes temporary visiting, not continued residence. These could have been hunting parties making seasonal forays from a home base in Quebec.
To understand why these visits stopped in the 1830's, some context is appropriate. The petition itself provides some of this. The petitioner reports that the Abenakis shifted their hunting trips northward in the 1830's (Petition:69, n. 17). This may explain why the hunting parties were no longer noticed in Vermont after the mid-1830's. This is consistent with other evidence that the influx of settlers to northern Vermont and southern Quebec interfered with traditional Indian hunting practices. The 1830's were a time of French-Canadian movement within Quebec and into the United States. It was all part of the pressure built up by surplus population, searching for land and work for the younger sons of large families (Hunter 1939:35-36).
The record of an 1814 marriage at Caughnawagha to a "Sauvage abenaquis d'un village d'amerique" is the seventh item cited by the petitioner for proof that an Abenaki village village continued to exist at Missisquoi (Petition Addendum:307). But, the proof falls short; the reference does not name the village. It could have been a village around Lake Memphremagog, on Lake George, New York. in New Hampshire, or in Maine. There is
evidence of Abenakis living in all those areas around that time. The petitioner's assumption that the reference is to Missisquoi is speculative.
The eighth piece of evidence cited by the petitioners is probably the strongest, but it too presents difficulties. The 1835 article in the Green Mountain Democrat is the only item cited by petitioner that identifies Indians as "Missisiques, who live a wandering life on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain" (Petition Addendum: 308-9, Green Mountain Democrat 4/3/1835). However, "the novelty of such a scene"—Indians in tents camping in Windsor, Vt., on the Connecticut River—is the reason it was reported in the newspaper (Green Mountain Democrat 4/3/1835). Even this citation includes some ambiguity, since the family is described as "wandering," rather than settled in a village of Indians at Missisquoi. Furthermore, the family subsists through the "manufacture of Indian articles" (Green Mountain Democrat 4/3/1835). Ulrich's assessment of this article led her to conclude that the family's success in selling "Indian articles" depended on their ability to "acknowledge their ability to and even flaunt, difference" (Ulrich 2001:347). This does not match the portrait of Indians put forth by petitioner--Indians hiding their identity in order to survive. This family did not blend in with the nineteenth century white residents; instead it retained a separate Culture. Thus, this one sighting cannot substantiate the presence of a large community of Abenakis, hiding their identity, living incognito, in Franklin County. This one family, traveling and selling Indian articles is insufficient to establish continuous habitation by a community of Abenaki Indians at Missisquoi throughout the nineteenth century.
The last piece of evidence offered by the petitioner in support of its argument is a letter from Father Amable Petithomme in 1835 (Petition Addendum:312-13). The petitioner describes the letter as follows:
In a letter to his superior in France dated 7/28/1835, Father Petithomme went on at some length about the habits of various clerics vis a vis the Catholics he served, and added for emphasis that "...I sleep in the poor cabins of the Indians" when traveling along the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. (Petition Addendum:312). 27.

The only problem with this is that the wording of the letter is totally unverifiable. No copy of it has been provided to the BIA with the petitioner's papers, and contacts with the Archives of Sacred Hearts Congregation in Rome have ascertained that the letter is missing from their files. 28.
Additionally, the lack of specificity in the portion of the letter quoted by the petitioner introduces a strong element of doubt. The quoted portion does not say where the "poor cabins of the Indians" are located. If their location was not given in the letter and has been filled in by conjecture on the part of petitioner, then the evidence is ambiguous and weaker than might first appear. The biography of Petithomme by R. P. Moulty quotes a part of that July 28, 1835, letter, and then goes on to talk of his travels up and down Lake Champlain and the surrounding area (Mouly 1960:44). The portion of Petithomme's letter quoted by Mouly states that this is "une vie difficile et qu'il loge habituellement dans des cabanes;" that is, a difficult life and that he usually finds lodging in huts (Mouly 1960:44). The reference does not indicate the location of this lodging, and does not say these are Indian huts. If this is the
27. The petition cites the source of the letter as follows: From the Archives of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary, the Vatican, Rome, Italy.
28. See email from Father Leopold de Reyes, General SS. CC. Archivist, at the Sacred Hearts Congregation in Rome, to Interlibrary Loan Librarian Meg Page at the Vermont Department of Congregation Libraries, March 8, 2001 (de Reyes 3/8/2001). Colin Calloway referred to the letter in The Western Abenakis of Vermont, but appears not to have seen it himself either, since he notes its source with the following qualification: "cited in Petition Addendum. pt. B, 313)- (Calloway 1990h: 241 & 298. n.7).
same passage cited by petitioner, then it is merely supposition that the huts belonged to Indians on Lake Champlain. 29.
From this critique, the weakness of the petitioner's evidence of continued Abenaki presence is apparent. The sightings of Indians in the state are rare, because they no longer lived here as a community in any real sense. Those that were here were purposely visible, making use of their differences for economic gains. Others who may have had some Indian ancestry, but chose to assimilate into the white culture, were no longer identified by outsiders as Indian because they no longer lived in an Indian community.

Comments on Recent Scholarship
With such feeble evidence of continued Abenaki presence in the Missisquoi region, it seems surprising that recent scholarly works have repeated the blanket statement that the Abenakis maintained their connections to the area throughout the nineteenth century.
However, closer examination of these works reveals that they all rely on the petition, or its primary author, John Moody, for support. He was hired by the Abenaki Tribal Council in February 1978 to Conduct research to find support for the petition, and worked with Abenaki assistants in 1978 and 1979 carrying out that research (Petition: 128, 153). Moody once described himself and his connection to petitioner thus:

I and student of Native American studies at Dartmouth and a Vermonter searching out my roots and ancestry. For the past two months I've been working on a narrative history of the Wabanaki peoples who lived and still live in Vermont, New Hampshire, and Quebec. My intent is to fill an expressed gap in the Native American history of this area....There are presently some people working on reconstituting Abenaki identity in Northern Vermont who are interested in my work. (Moody 4/24/1976).
29. See additional discussion of Father Petithomme below in the section Swanton Church is French Canadian, not Indian.
He developed strong ties to the petitioner, even giving the eulogy at the funeral of Chief Homer Homer St. Francis (Burlington Free Press 7/12/2001). Since Moody has been working for the petitioner and relies heavily on family assumptions and declarations of Indian heritage in his work in the recurrent absence of documentary proof of Indian ancestry, then his work is merely self-identification. Such self-identification, without proof through external sources, is insufficient under the federal criteria for tribal acknowledgement (59 Fed. Reg. 9-280, 9286, BIA MaChris Lower Alabama Creek Indian Tribe 1987:5. 32-35).
Colin Calloway has made clear that many of his publications on the Abenakis were motivated by a desire to assist them in obtaining federal acknowledgment. In Green Mountain Diaspora: Indian Population Movements in Vermont, c. 1600-1800 In 1986, he wrote:

Dispersed in small groups, the Indians ceased to be visible as "tribes" in the eyes of Euro-Americans. The strategy of survival through anonymity worked too well. Generations of movement, withdrawal, and maintaining a low profile enabled Vermont's Abenakis to survive in calamitous times, but left their twentieth century descendants with considerable problems when they sought to convince a skeptical United States government of their true identity and continued historic presence. (Calloway 1986:222.)

This was Calloway's first article on the Western Abenakis. He reveals something of John Moody's influence when he gives credit to a fellowship award from the Vermont Historical Society that made the article possible, and then states, "The author is indebted to John Moody of Sharon, Vermont, for his help throughout the project and for his careful reading of the manuscript" (Calloway 986:197).
John Moody's influence is abundant in Calloway's article. While the article
discusses various Indian groups—Sokoki, Schaghticoke, and Cowasuck—almost the entire section on the Missisquoi comes from Moody. The idea that Missisquoi was a focal
community for Indians in the Lake Champlain Valley around 1770 is Moody's (Calloway 1986:219, n. 70). The notion that the white settlers "saw merely the tips of 'front persons' of a mobile Indian community" is Moody's (Calloway 1986:220, n. 74). And the entire story of "the continuing presence of Abenaki families around St. Albans, the Islands, Swanton, and Highgate," who "survived by going underground in marginal areas," is attributed to Moody (Calloway 1986:220).
Around the same time that Calloway completed his first article on the Western
Abenakis, he wrote to Gordon Day, commenting:

John Moody is keeping me well supplied with information, encouragement and suggestions for present and future research and writing. (Calloway 2/20/1985).

Four years after the publication of the "Green Mountain Diaspora," Calloway published Western Abenakis of Vermont 1600-1800. He dedicated the book to his wife and to John Moody, revealing the extent of Moody's influence upon him:

John Moody took an early interest in the project, selflessly shared knowledge and notions with me, and constantly encouraged my endeavors even as he reminded me that there were larger issues than the book at stake here. Without these two friends [Marcia Calloway and John Moody], this book would not have been written, so it is fitting that they share the dedication (Calloway 1990b:xx-xxi).

Those "larger issues" are undoubtedly federal tribal recognition. The references in Western Abenakis to Moody's unpublished manuscript throughout chapters 10, 12, and 13 are prevalent (Calloway 1990b:288-91, n. 16, 19, 20, 23, 33, 34: 295-97, 11. 3, 12, 13, 18, 27, 31: and 297-98, n. 12, 14). Most of chapter 13 of this work is based directly on the petition for federal acknowledgment submitted by the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont. (Calloway 1990b:297-98, n. 2, 5, 7, 22,. 24 giving citations to Petition). Moody himself claimed a large role in assisting Calloway when he wrote to Gordon Day,
Colin Calloway's new book is nearing completion and my re-writing/ editing same with him has generated a number of useful ideas to pursue! (Moody 7/17/1988).

Of course all historians weave stories built in part on historic fact and in part on
hypotheses to fill in the gaps. However, one must not confuse the facts with the speculative interstices. For example, the fact that Henry Tufts lived in the eighteenth-century with the Indians around Bethel, Maine, and traveled with them to meet members of their tribe as far west as Lake Memphremagog, does not substantiate the claim that there was a thriving village at Missisquoi at the same time, as Calloway suggests. (Calloway 1990b:201-02). See Map above, p.6. Indeed, the fact that Tufts never once mentions the Missisquoi or anything about Lake Champlain, Could mean that there was no significant entity there at that time (Tufts 1807).
In another section of his book, Calloway sets forth the thesis of the Petition as if it were historical fact, yet he does not cite any historical evidence to support it:

In the view of most of the white community, the western Abenakis seemed to have "disappeared" from Vermont by 1800. But large numbers stayed, living in family bands and off the land as they had for centuries by hunting, fishing, and gathering. Usually poor, often intermarried and French-speaking, these people came to live a nomadic existence, and they cropped up in local records as "gypsies," wandering vagrants who appeared on the edges of white communities. (Calloway 1990b:234-35).

There is no verification that the people described as "gypsies" were Indians, let alone the Abenakis of Missisquoi. Repeatedly saying it does not make it so. The fact that a group of people today has, as Calloway says, "reconstituted" [Reinvention of the Vermont "Abenakis"!] itself into the Sokoki-St. Francis Band of the Abenaki Nation does not mean that the historic Missisquoi really stayed here in large numbers and survived as an Indian entity for 200 years without notice. (See Calloway 1990b:xvi).
William Haviland and Marjory Power first wrote their book The Original Vermonters in 1981 in which they traced native peoples in Vermont from Paleoindians to the present through archeological and historical means. This was before the Abenaki submitted their petition for federal acknowledgment. When Haviland and Power revised the book in 1994, they included material from new archeological finds, as well as information provided to them by the Abenaki petitioners and John Moody:

Similarly, the continuing historic and ethnohistoric research of such scholars as Colin Calloway and John Moody has enriched our understanding of the last 400 years, especially the critical period after A.D. 1800. Finally, Vermont's contemporary Native American community has been active over the past thirteen years and more is known about them now than was the case before...not a single chapter of the book remains the same as in the earlier edition. (Haviland & Power 1994:xx).

Specifically they wrote in the endnotes to chapter 6 "European Takeover of Vermont," and chapter 7 "Survival and Renewal," that their "summary of post-1800 Abenaki history is drawn from Moody (1979:6-80), and the Addendum to the Abenaki petition for federal recognition" (Haviland & Power 1994:301). They also relied upon personal communications with John Moody, again showing his pervasive behind-the-scenes influence (Haviland & Power 1994:296-97).

It appears that the petitioner has made a concerted effort to encourage scholars to publish works in support of the petition.

It even outlined a "recognition strategy" which includes "publications" as part of "the game" of obtaining recognition (Petitioner 2000). Historians of Native Americans, faced with forceful and determined arguments from Vermont Abenaki leaders must have been hard pressed to resist these new theories that allowed them to assume their guilt over previous generations of Americans' mistreatment of Indians. But the BIA must sift through the rhetoric and discern the facts. It should not be

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 25 to 32:

Populations suggest that withdrawal from Missisquoi in the early years of the Revolution did indeed remove many families permanently to some other location. The most probable place of removal is Saint Francis. (Day 1981b:56)

Reports of Indians at Missisquoi after the American Revolution are infrequent. One of the first Americans to survey the Indians was Thomas Jefferson. He compiled two lists in 1782 from available sources of his day. These were entitled, Indians Northward and Westward of the United States," and "Indians Within the Limits of the United States" and published in his Notes on the State of Virginia (Jefferson 1782:229, 230-32). He drew primarily on sources from 1758 to 1779. Jefferson sought to "state the nations and numbers of the aborigines which still exist in a respectable and independent form" (Jefferson 1782:227). He did not identify any Abenakis in the area of Vermont. He located them only north of the U.S. near Trois Rivieres, Quebec (Jefferson 1782:229).
There are instances of sightings of Indians at Missisquoi after 1775. 22. One incident occurred in 1784, after James Hunter and Charles Grajon attempted to claim lands through title from James Robertson—the one who leased the lands from the Abenakis in 1765 for 91 years. This is recounted by Charland as follows: 23. Ira Allen had settled other families on that land and refused to recognize the lease, saying the Indians lost their title when the British defeated the French in 1763. Hunter, upset over his inability to remove the families on the land, warned that the Abenakis would return and claim their rights by force. Thereafter, a group of St. Francis Abenakis appeared at the mouth of the Missisquoi and made threats.
22. Other sightings are traceable to Cauhnawagha Indians, not Missisquois (Day 19 lb:57).
23. For an English retelling of Charland's account, see Calloway's Western Abenakis of Vermont. (Calloway 1990b:225-29).
Allen appealed to General Haldimand saying he had no objection to the Abenakis asserting claims but believed they had been incited by Hunter and his accomplices at St. Jean. 24. Haldimand attempted to calm Allen and instructed his officers to investigate Hunter (Charland 172-74). The fact that Allen attempted to settle the problem through correspondence with the Quebec Governor indicates that the Abenakis were within the control of the Canadian authorities. Haldimand's investigation of the incidents in St. Jean, Quebec, also confirms that the Abenakis were using Canada as a home base from which to accost the American settlers. Allen's request of aid in this matter from a foreign power, indicates that the Indians were not local residents of the Missisquoi area.
The next reported incident was in 1787 and 1788 when twenty Indians appeared in Swanton and demanded rent from farmers Waggoner and Tichout. These Indians raised a British flag upon setting up camp; an indication they had come from Canada—most likely from Odanak/St. Francis (Day 1981 b:56, Calloway 1990b:228, Barney 1882:999). Again, the Quebec officials attempted to resolve the dispute by arranging a meeting between the Abenakis and the American settlers. The Abenakis did not succeed in removing the settlers. Day observed that the Abenakis came to realize they had lost control of these lands at Missisquoi by this time (Day 1981b:60).
Shortly thereafter, in 1789, the Abenakis petitioned the Governor of Quebec "to
indemnify them for the loss of their lands on the Missisquoi River" (Day 1981 b:60; Charland 1964:175-76). They renewed their request in 1797 and 1803. The British governor in Canada finally approved their request and issued the Durham grants to the Abenakis in Montreal.
24. St. Jean is located on the Richelieu River, southeast of Montreal. It was the site of a fort in the eighteenth century where many loyalists went after the American Revolution (Canadian Encyclopedia:1985b; see Map at page vi of this Response).
1805 25. ( Charland 1964:76). The final granting of this petition may also be attributed to the overcrowding of Odanak/St. Francis at that time (Haviland & Power:245, Day 1973:55). The population of Odanak/St. Francis had grown significantly after the American Revolution—again confirming the migration of Abenakis from Missisquoi to St. Francis (Day 1981b:56, 61).
Perry's history, written in 1863 also maintains that, of the Indians at Missisquoi,
"most withdrew to Canada, between the close of the Revolution & 1790" (Perry 1863:203, Clifford 2001:223). While he noted that "a few still lingered on the Missisquoi at that time, he reported that "[t]hey had, to a large extent, retired to St. Francis"' (Perry 1863:240). He went on to note that

The village of St. Francis having become the principal center of the few who survived, the tendency was in that direction. Consequently one family after another withdrew from Vermont, & only returned to Swanton, for a few weeks or months each year, to engage in hunting & fishing. (Perry 1863: 241).

A bit further on he wrote that "they continued to leave the place, a few at a time, until 1798, when all that remained took their departure. Since that year, they have only returned in small parties, at long intervals, to remain for short seasons" (Perry 1863:2241-42).
Confirming this view of Odanak/St. Francis as their center, Calloway wrote that In 1800, Odanak/St. Francis was the location where "the exiles coalesced into a new community in St. Francis and reassembled the last vestiges of Abenakis political power in the northeast" (Calloway 1986:221). St. Francis became the melting pot for Northeast Indians. The last of the large groups to arrive there were the Abenakis of Missisquoi (Day 1971:1 19). And, as
25. The members of the Durham reserve were re-absorbed into Odanak/St. Francis in the 1830's (Day 1981b:61).
Day concluded, it is at Odanak/St. Francis that the culture and language of Missisquoi survived—not in Vermont (Day 1973:56).

The Insubstantial Evidence of Continued Tribal Presence in the Nineteenth Century
While the early historic period of the eighteenth century has been described as lacking material on the western Abenakis, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries are even more spotty. Faced with an almost total lack of evidence of any continued Abenaki presence in northwestern Vermont after 1800, the petitioner has constructed a speculative argument to explain this away. It contends that the Abenakis adopted a strategy of blending in with thecommunity, in order to avoid discrimination and ill-treatment in the face of adversity (Petition: 145, 148-50, 154). The problem is, they blended in so well that they do not show up in the records as a tribal entity until nearly two hundred years later—in 1976.
Petitioner lists only a few sightings and reports of Abenakis in the Missisquoi region between 1800 and 1900. Almost every one of petitioner's reports evaporates upon close examination. Many are either open to alternative interpretations or are unverifiable. Most have no proven connection to the Missisquoi region in northwestern Vermont.
The petitioner's evidence of an Abenaki presence in Vermont in the nineteenth
century amounts to the following:

1. a story about Madam Campo waiting for visitors at her home (Petition:54);
2. references to Indians in local histories (Petition:54-56):
3. an account of Indians in Rutland, Vermont. in all Burlington Free Press
article home (Petition:56);
4. records of baptisms in Chambly, Quebec, in the early 1800's home (Petition:58-59);
5. federal census records home (Petition:61-66);
6. a local history reportIng that bands of eight to ten families drifted back for part 271 of the year as late as 1835 or 1840 home (Petition:71);
7. a record of an 1814 marriage at Caughnawagha to a "sauvage abenaquis d'un village d'amerique" (Petition Addendum:307);
8. an 1835 article In the Green Mountain Democrat regarding Indians from the eastern shore of Lake Champlain camping at Windsor, Vt., on the Connecticut River (Petition Addendum:308), and
9. a letter from Father Petithomme in 1835 reporting that he sleeps in the cabins of the Indians on Lake Champlain (Petition Addendum: 312-13).

The first item offered in support of the continued presence of Abenakis at Missisquoi is the story of Madam Campo awaiting a visitor home (Petition:54). Petitioner uses this as an indication that there were other Indians in the vicinity who were calling upon Madam Campo. This appears to be a misreading of the quotation. The woman is described as "the sole representative of her tribe," and she was "hopeful that the lands of her fathers would be restored to her." Her costume and behavior are described at a time "when she anticipated a business call from the possessor of her assumed heritage. While petitioner claims she
awaited other Indian visitors, Professor Dickinson interprets this quite differently. He says a proper reading of this passage indicates that

she expected a visit from the white person who occupied the land she claimed to settle her case. The words "possessor of her assumed heritage'' indicates that she awaited the person [who] occupied an inheritance that she assumed was hers. (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B:6).
The second piece of evidence cited by petitioner in support of nineteenth century Abenaki presence is a group of citations from local histories written in the 1870's. These descriptions of Indians have two features: (1) they do not name the Indians as Missisquoi Abenakis, as generic Indians, or as St. Francis Indians from Canada, and (2) they speak of them as seasonal hunters, not as residents. The last one in particular, referring to Indians seen in Richford, concerns "hunting along the Missisquoi River and mountains in winter...[and] pass[ing] down the river into Lake Champlain and the Sorel River to Caughnawagha to market" (Petition:55). From these geographic clues, Professor Dickinson concluded that this passage does not refer to Abenaki Indians:

The final citation [on page 55 of the petition] clearly refers to Mohawks who also had claim to the Lake Champlain area. Traveling and hunting expeditions were part of both Abenaki and Mohawk lifestyles and this does not seem to demonstrate much except that Natives were still hunting in the area. (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B:7).

The 1820 Burlington Free Press article, the petitioner's third piece of evidence, does not substantiate the argument that Missisquoi Abenakis were a consistent presence in the northwestern part of the state (Petition:56). The article describes a family of nine Indians who camped near Rutland for the winter. As the Missisquoi Abenakis' general approach was to retreat northward to Canada or eastward toward Lake Memphrernagog, it is unlikely that these Indians near Rutland came from the group that had previously been in Missisquoi near Swanton. Indeed, Rutland is over 100 miles south of Swanton. Moreover, there is evidence of other Indians in that area—namely, the Mahicans from Schaghticoke (Ulrich 2001:347-48, attributing basket lined with 1821 Rutland Herald newspaper to Mahicans at Scaticoke). It is at least as likely that Indians in the Rutland area were from New York State, since we know
there were Indians documented in federal census records around Lake George, New York, during the nineteenth century (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1900a, 1900b). 26.
Baptisms in Canadian parishes, such as Chambly, are the fourth type of evidence of Abenaki continuity cited in the petition as well (Petition:59). However, the existence of these records does not necessarily confirm that Abenaki continued to live in the Missisquoi region of Vermont. As petitioner itself contends, some Abenakis left Missisquoi and went to Clarenceville, Quebec. The individuals who used the Catholic parishes whose records are cited here could have been residents of Clarenceville, not Vermont (Petition:59). See Map above, p.6.
The families could also have used these parishes as they were traveling from
Missisquoi to Odanak/St. Francis. The baptism of a child of Antoine Portneuf could be explained that way, rather than as proof of Missisquoi residence. The Portneuf family shows up in all the Odanak/St. Francis censuses from 1829 through 1875 (Day 1981 b:93). There is even an A. Portneuf on the list of Veterans of the War of 1812, who could be the Antoine Portneuf who took a child to be baptized at Chambly in 1800 (Day 1981b:72).
Furthermore, the baptisms cited by the petitioner are not conclusively Abenaki
baptisms. The petitioner relies on the "lack of a first or last name, as well as the sound of Wabisan, and the residence being simply on the river" to conclude that the baptism of Marie Appolinaire Wabisan is an Abenaki baptism. However, the parents' residence on the river is near Fort St. Jean, Quebec, not Vermont. In addition, the father's occupation is given as
26. Rutland, Vt., is about 100 miles south of Swanton, Vt., but only 40 miles north of Lake George in Warren County, N.Y. (see Map above, p. vi).
"day laborer," an occupation that does not immediately suggest Indian. Were he described as an Indian hunter, one might conclude otherwise.
The fifth category of evidence upon which the petitioner relies is federal census
category records (Petition:61-66). A more detailed examination of these records is presented in the analysis of the genealogical evidence of descent from a historic tribe, Criterion (e), but a few comments are appropriate here. First, the petitioner itself acknowledges that these people were not identified as Indian in the census. In addition, the petitioner makes grand assumptions based on similarities of names to support its conclusions. For example, it assumes that Canance is Annance, Mower is Morin. Kady is Kedzi, Benway is Benedict, Legur is Lazare, etc. Without birth, marriage, or death records that show the connections between these particular individuals and descendants bearing the transformed names, these assumption are not justified.
Moreover, even the petitioner's evidence points to other conclusions that undermine the assertion that the Abenakis maintained a continuous presence at Missisquoi. The fact that the names listed in one decade are all gone in the following decade undercuts the argument of continuity. Also, the connection between names on the censuses and family names at Odanak/St. Francis confirms the primacy of Odanak/St. Francis as an Indian center from which individuals occasionally traveled to Vermont.
Lastly, this census list's inclusion of Francis Benway of Milton on the grounds that
"Benways would marry with Abenakis in Grand Isle County," indicates a fundamental mistake in the petitioner's approach. Non-Indian ancestors of current tribal members are not transformed into Indians because later generations married Abenakis. The presence of these

State of VT's Response to Petition for Federal Acknowledgment of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Vermont: Pages 17 to 24:

centred in St. Francis as the parent community. (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment C, 2).

As Day observed, some Abenakis moved back to St. Francis to join their relatives in this 1763-1775 period, though this movement became much more significant after 1775 (Day 1973:55). James Robertson's lease of 1765 is one example of Abenakis leasing land to the English and moving away. The fact that this lease of land at Missisquoi is for 91 years suggests that the Abenakis had no immediate intention of returning to use the land (Day 1973:55). John Moody's contrary reading of the lease is tenuous at best (Petition:38). While the lease may indicate that not all Abenaki families departed at once, there is no doubt that at least some of them left in 1765: otherwise, they would not have been relinquishing their land for 91 years. The real significance of Robertson's lease is that it is the only existing list of names of Missisquoi Abenakis prior to the 1970's.
Also in the year 1765, Moses Hazen sought a grant of land on the Missisquoi River from the British Governor of Lower Canada (Quebec). The petitioner points to the refusal of the Governor to approve this grant as an indication that the Abenakis had not left the area (Petition:37). However, the actual letters of the Governor's secretary are not so clear. Secretary Goldfrap called off the survey in order to ascertain whether the lands belonged to Indians or not. He wrote to Lieutenant Scott, who was stationed at Montreal, on March 29, 1765, as follows:

His said Excellency and Council accordingly ordered a Warrant of survey Directed to the Surveyor General in the usual Form, since which information has been Received that the Lands so petitioned for, are the property of an Indian Nation Inhabiting near Montreal, it is therefore Desired that you will make ample Inquiry of the said Indians, or of any other people touching their pretention thereto... (Goldfrap 3/29/1765)(emphasis added).
13. The petitioner acknowledges the fact that there are no historical lists of members of the Missisquoi Abenaki (Petition: 169).
There is nothing in that correspondence that identifies the owners of the land as  Abenakis. 14. Rather than confirming that Indians were living on the Missisquoi in 1765, this letter raises the possibility that the land belonged to Indians who formerly belonged on the Missisquoi, but had since left and were then living near Montreal. Alternatively, it suggests Missisquoi could be found near Montreal, raising the possibility that the political center of that Indian group was based near Montreal. Thus the Indians referenced by that correspondence could be the Caughnawagha Mohawks, 15. either in their own right or as spokesmen for the Seven Nations, which included the St. Francis Abenakis.
In September 1766 the British Governor of New York 16. and the British Governor of Quebec met at Isle la Motte to settle the boundary between them. Also present were representatives of the Caughnawagha and Missisquoi Indians. As the petitioner explains, the Caughnawaghas spoke to secure their hunting rights around Lake Champlain, but then the Missisquoi Indians spoke as well. They said:

We the Misisqui Indns. of the Abinaquis or St. Johns Tribe have inhabited that
part of Lake Champlain time unknown to any of Us here present without
being molested or any ones claiming any Right to it to our Knowledge, Except
abt. 18 Years ago the French Govr. & Intendt. came there & viewed a Spot
14. Haviland & Power overstate the evidence, perhaps because this section of their book is not based on their own research (Haviland & Power 1994:239). Rather, as they state in the bibliographic notes, [f]or events following 1763, we have relied almost exclusively on Moody (1979) and data from the Abenaki petition [for federal acknowledgment] ( 1982) and its addendum (1986), much of which were gathered by Moody" (Haviland & Power 1994:301).
15. The Caughnawagha (or Kahnawake) Mohawks were Catholic Mohawks who broke away from the communities of the League of Iroquois tribes (MacLeod 1996:xi). They established the village of Kahnawake on the St. Lawrence River in Canada, along with the village of Akwesasne, which was also known by the name of its mission, St. Regis. These villages were part of the Seven Villages, or Seven Nations of Canada which included the following: the Iroquois of Akwesasne, Kanestake/Oka, Kahnawake. Oswegatchie, the Abenakis of Odanak, and Becancour (W8linak), and the Hurons of Lorette.
16. Vermont was a part of New York at that time.
convenient for a Saw mill to facilitate the building of Vessells & Batteaux at St. Johns as well as for building of ships at Quebec... (Johnson vol. 12:173).

The Missisquois expected the French to leave after the Seven Years' War, but instead "some English people came there to rebuild the Mill, and now claim 3 Leagues in breath & we don't know how many deep wch. would take in our Village & plantations by far" (Johnson vol. 12:173).
The petitioner stresses two aspects of this statement. First, petitioner emphasizes the length of habitation by the Missisquois on Lake Champlain (Petition:39). They had been here a long time at least since the late seventeenth century—and that was certainly "time unknown to any of Us here" when they spoke one hundred years later in 1766. However, that statement says nothing about the gaps in continuity that would occur in the following century as the English settlers took over more and more of the area.
The other point petitioner makes is that there is confusion in the name of the group. Petitioner indicates that one version of this speech identifies the Missisquois as "of the Abinquis or St. Johns tribe," and another identifies them as "of the St. Francis or Abenakis Tribe" (Petition:40, Calloway 1990b:195). This confusion of names proves only that they were not regarded as an independent tribe. Both versions describe them as appendages of a larger Canadian tribe of Abenakis—based either at Odanak/St. Francis or St. John. 17. Petitioner asserts that in 1770 Missisquoi was still considered home to a group of Abenakis who were living at St. Regis/Akwesasne. In support it relies on the following living statement made to Sir William Johnson, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, at a congress of Indians at German Flatts, N.Y. in July 1770:
17. St. John. or St. Jean, is on the Richelieu River in Quebec. See discussion below of Ira Allen complaining to General Haldimand of Indians being incited at St. Jean to harass the Americans in Vermont.
In 2 years time, we can find out another place, as we have land of our own, but it is now cut into pieces by the English, except a small piece. We shall go as soon as we have time to see whether the English have left us any; if they have we will move there and you shall never more hear of any dispute or trouble about us. (Petition:41, Day 1981 b:48, Johnson vol. 12:845).
Contrary to the petitioner's view, this passage only generates more questions: where is this "land of our own," and if there was still an Indian community there, what was its condition? As Professor Dickinson notes, this statement is not necessarily "an indication that Missisquoi was considered their territory"  (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6).
The group of Abenakis who made that statement had fled to St. Regis for protection among the Mohawks after Rodgers' Raid on Odanak/St. Francis in 1759 (Frisch:1971). Day's analysis led him to argue that these refugees may actually have been Schaghticokes who had been living with the Abenakis at Odanak/St. Francis (Day 1981b:47, 64, Calloway 1990b:197). The Schaghticokes, he explained, would have been more comfortable with the St. Regis Mohawks from their prior associations with the Iroquois (Day 1981b:47). The statements made in 1770 on which petitioner relies came in the wake of intense disputes that arose between the Abenakis and the Akwesasne/St. Regis (Frisch 1971:27). After several requests by the St. Regis Mohawks for the British to remove the Abenakis from their village, the British instructed the Abenakis, and their white French interpreter John Jacob Hertel, to leave.
Petitioner concedes that no one has confirmed where the Abenakis (or Schaghticokes) went when they left St. Regis (Petition 41). Day found no evidence that they moved as a band to either Odanak/St. Francis or Missisquoi (Day 1981 b:48). There is evidence that many went to Cornwall Island, south of St. Regis in 1771 (Johnson vol. 8:2114). Calloway says that from there they were eventually absorbed into the Mohawk community (Calloway,
1990b:200-01). Thus, the fact that they claimed to have "land of their own," did not mean they returned to it and re-established a village there. Indeed, they had said that they needed to check on that land, because it had been carved into pieces by the English.
Also, it is not entirely clear where the land referred to in the above statement is
located. The July 1770 statement itself does not say (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6). Calloway and Day suggest that a fragment of a letter from Col. Daniel Claus to Sir William Johnson indicates that the land was at Missisquoi (Calloway 1990b:200, Day 1981b:48 citing Johnson vol. 7:897). This fragment, in a letter of September 1770, reads as follows:

Mr. Hertell says he did not carry the french Answer to the Abinaquis, but that
[   ] essential as Your last Reply upon their asking [   ] two years time allowd them to establish themse[Ives  ] Misisqui, and their house finished at St. Regis [   ] they say you granted, I should be glad to have of it as son as possible that I may acquaint [the Augh]quiasne Indns. wth. The Truth of ye Matter. (Johnson vol. 7:897)

While the missing words could lead to more than one reading, it is quite possible this passage only means that they hoped to establish themselves at Missisquoi during the next two years, not that there was a sufficiently stable Indian Community there to absorb them at the time. And, since Johnson did not allow the Abenakis to stay at St. Regis another two years, they may never have carried out their plans.
So, while the Abenaki population at Missisquoi was somewhat stabilized from 1763 to 1775, there was also a general increase in British settlement. This meant more conflicts with the British over land.
18. One version could be: "Mr. Hertell says he did not carry the french answer to the Abinaquis, but that [it was not] essential as your last Reply upon their asking [for yet] two years time allowd them to establish thems[elves anew] at Misisqui, and their house finished at St. Regis which they say you granted, I should be glad to have [word] of it as soon as possible that I may acquaint [the Augh]quisasne Indns with the Truth of ye Matter."
Abandonment of Missisquoi During American Revolution
The last period in the description of Abenaki movements in the eighteenth century is that of 1775-1800, marked by the American Revolution. Most scholars who have written about the Abenakis of Missisquoi state that they withdrew from Vermont during the American Revolution (Calloway 1990b:214, Haviland & Power 1994:241, Day 1981b:57, 65; 1973:55, Perry 1863:202-03, Barney 1882: 1000).
The big question is whether a significant number of Abenakis stayed behind at
Missisquoi when the bulk of the village moved. This is interwoven with the question of how many Abenakis lived at Missisquoi at the start of this period. The petitioner's use of inflated figures bolsters its argument that large numbers of Abenakis remained at Missisquoi after the Revolution (Petition:43-44, 51; Petition Addendum:316). The petition claims there were at least 1,000 Abenakis in the area in 1775 (Petition:44). Professor Dickinson sees no evidence of such large numbers and places the figure at no more than 500 (Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6).
So how many Abenakis were at Missisquoi in the 1790? The petition makes the
exaggerated claim that there were at least 1,000 Abenakis centered in Northwestern Vermont from 1790 to 1860 (Petition Addendum:xiv). Abenaki tradition, as reported by Moody, says 50 wigwams (or 250 people) still remained in Swanton in 1790, but both Calloway and Day suspected this figure was too high (Calloway 1990a: 220, Day 1981b:57). Another account suggested 70 Indians in Swanton in 1793 (Day 1981b:57). Moody argued that a substantial suggested Indian population remained at Missisquoi, citing a 1779 map that shows an "Indian castle." However, Day disputed this: "in view of the well known tendency of cartographers to reproduce older information, we cannot take this as good evidence for an Indian population
there in 1779" (Day 1981b:55). Day said there were only about 20 Indians left at Missisquoi by 1786-1788 (Day 1981b:56).
Petitioner actually concedes that "the village at Missisquoi was abandoned," between 1794 and 1800. However, it argues that the Indian habitation continued inconspicuously (Petition, 49-50). This is the Abenaki justification for the lack of evidence of an Abenaki community in Swanton and the rest of the Missisquoi region for the following 200 years (Petition Addendum:307, 319-20). In sum, because the evidence indicates a shrinking Indian population at Missisquoi from 1776 to 1800, petitioner relies on claims of Abenaki invisibility as protection (Petition: 148-50, 154). Faced with the fact that the village was abandoned, petitioner argues that the infrequent and occasional references to bands of traveling Abenakis are indications that there were actually hundreds more living in the area.
On the contrary, it is more likely that these sporadic sightings were recorded precisely because they were unusual. Those travelers may actually have been visitors who no longer resided at Missisquoi.
With this overview in mind, an examination of the evidence and argument put forth by petitioner is in order. Petitioner's suggestion that only a dozen families moved to Odanak between 1775 and 1800 is misleading (Petition:51). The petitioner's suggestion seems to be a misreading of Day's observation that twelve family names at Odanak/St. Francis are traceable to Missisquoi (Day 1981b:56). 19. Day concluded that nearly fifty years after the American Revolution, there was clear evidence that the St. Francis Abenaki could be traced back to Missisquoi. Day's ethnographic and linguistic studies of Odanak/St. Francis further
19. "[T]here are at least a dozen recognizable Missisquoi family names in the 1829 census of Saint Francis, and it seems reasonable to assume that many of them came in the early years of the war."

demonstrate that the roots of the twentieth-century Abenakis of Odanak/St. Francis lie at Missisquoi (Day 1971:120-22).
In addition to retreating to Odanak/St. Francis, some Missisquoi Abenakis may have gone to the Upper Connecticut River valley, to Lake Memphremagog, or to Clarenceville, Quebec 20. (Calloway 1990a:75-76, 1990b:230-31, Haviland & Power 1994:241, Day 1981 b:56). However, these were not permanent locations for the Abenakis either (Calloway 1990b:231-33). In 1798, a group of Abenakis offered to sell their land at Indian Stream in northern New Hampshire to that state. The offer was rejected by the legislature but the land was sold to individual purchasers (Charland 1964:176, n.85). "The Bedel deed" in New
Hampshire and other land sales in the late 1790's indicated that many of the bands from northern Vermont and New Hampshire had removed to St. Francis by that time" (Calloway 1986:220). Large game had become scarce in northern Vermont and New Hampshire by this time, so the Indians moved northward (Calloway 1990b:231, Barry 1999:28).
The petitioner's reliance on baptismal records of Indians in Chambly, Quebec,
between 1775 and 1785 to confirm that Abenakis continued to live at Missisquoi is not dispositive (Petition:46). As Day pointed out, it is quite possible these were transients, not local residents (Day 1981b:55). Moreover, they could have been Abenakis living at Clarence[ville?], Quebec, not at Missisquoi (Day 1981 b:55 see also Dickinson Affidavit, Attachment B, 6). Day concluded that

[t]he numbers [sic] of Indians at Missisquoi after the Revolution appears to have been rather small .... This small number compared with the earlier
20. The idea of an Indian community at Clarenceville was floated by John Moody. However, he wrote that further work was "needed...to confirm the community's existence" (Moody 1979:46).
21. The land conveyed by the Bedel deed is located in northern New Hampshire and an area in Vermont east of Lake Memphremagog The signatories of the deed are not known to be Missisquoi Abenakis; rather they are Cowasucks (Calloway 1990b:231, Day, 198 lb:69).

Search This Blog