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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Against The Darkness, An Intro to VT Abenaki Identity and Cultural Competency Through Ethnic Revitalization: Compiled by Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D Pages 10-17; "Certifying Indian Artists Under S.117 Abenaki Recognition Bill" By Frederick M. Wiseman Ph.D;

Page [9.]
1995 was the year when Missisquoi imploded, due to the demands of lawyers and researchers preparing an ongoing case for Federal recognition. Notification was sent to enrolled Abenaki citizens that they needed to upgrade their genealogical files so as to provide documentation of native ancestry. Many heretofore-loyal Missisquoi families, including many leaders, could not or would not provide this data. WHY did these persons obtain "membership cards" in the first place, if they did not have adequate genealogical documenation substantiating their "Abenaki" descent? They split from the original tribal organization [incorporation], gutting it of many capable and innovative officials [like Michael Delaney and his wife Ina]. This process was accelerated by a bungled attempt by political rivals to "take out" the feisty Chief St. Francis. So far, the regional decline has not been reversed, with the loss of many community cultural activities such as the harvest supper in October. The mid and late 1990's saw many politically unsound Missisquoi offshoots and independent community initiatives all over Vermont. For example, a politically metastable region formed around Newport VT generated by many individuals originally associated with Missisquoi in the 1980's; dividing, coalescing and re-dividing based on evanescent inter-personal relations. This process has yielded the Clan of the Hawk, Nulhegan Band, The Cowasuck-Horicon Traditional Council of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, the Cowasuck (Coos) Traditional, and various "American Odanak" groups. The southern flank of the Abenaki area experienced a similar process with Cowass North America Inc, and more recently the "Pocumtuck Proper of the Confederacy Pocumtuck including those in VT as Abenaki".
EXACTLY... Reinvented and Alleged "Abenakis" of Vermont, NH, MA and RI etc.
Do Vermont Abenakis want revitalization?
This is an interesting and critical question. In meeting with literally hundreds of community [incorporate] members and discussing Abenaki issues throughout Vermont, I would estimate that most 21st century, self-identified Abenakis are at least aware of their identity and are therefore competent at the Phase I "gathering tradition" stage; perhaps 10%-20% are more or less operationally aware of pipe, smudging, pow-wow, etc. protocols so as to be classed as culturally competent at the Phase II "Pan-Indian" stage. But I would estimate less than 1% know or care about enough of their distinctive and collective American Abenaki history and culture to be classed as competent at stages beyond Phase II.
The prerequisite to an evolving indigenous Vermont cultural revitalization is a desire on the part of political and cultural leaders to commit to an inclusive effort that reflects the unique history and symbology of the American Abenakis. In the 1988-1993 period, there was a sense, shared by leaders and laypeople, that the Abenakis should move forward, as a whole community, to reclaim their lost heritage from Euroamerican sources. This was they [sic] heyday of the Abenaki Research Project, which was crucial to the Federal Recognition Petition; the numerous meetings surrounding a planned "Abenaki Cultural Center" that evolved into the Tribal Museum and Cultural Center; plans for annual meetings that became the "Abenaki Heritage Week Celebration," and other successful initiatives. Unfortunately, the actions of Vermont, Massachusetts and Quebec Abenaki leaders in the mid 1990's effectively ground this cultural progress to a standstill. Self-proclaimed Abenaki spiritualists attacked the friendship that had begun to grow between Vermont academics and the Abenaki community, estranging vital allies in the search for information in the ethnohistoric record so important to the revitalization process. Vermont's Native neighbors, from Akwesasne to Pleasant Point, tried to help restart the
 Page [10.]
process to move Abenakis into understanding their uniqueness and place in the Native world. They have found little welcome in Vermont. That is because incorporated "Abenaki" "Tribes" "Bands" and the membership card holding people were not and are not Abenakis in the first place.
Today the Missisquoi community tends to rely on its historical incorporation position in the development of the modern Want-To-Be Abenaki identity rather than actively pointing the way to an ethnically competent future that celebrates local and regional Abenaki uniqueness. Other emerging communities, usually revolving around individual charismatic leaders, seem uninterested in wider connections, or are too busy arguing with one another to be concerned with encouraging cultural or heritage literacy. The comprehensive failure of Vermont Abenaki leadership at all levels and all areas is especially evident in the inability of American Abenakis to effectively and cohesively participate in the Wabanaki Confederacy, Seven Fires Alliance, Wabanaki reburial and repatriation initiatives, the 1996-2006 State recognition process, and the various "unity" initiatives. The sometimes self appointed leaders of too many political organizations tend to distrust others and proclaim that their understanding Abenaki culture is the only "correct" way. This decidedly xenophobic belief is based on:
1.) a conviction on the part of these leaders that enough information is already at hand and that there is no need to look elsewhere, or
2.) a self-interested, innate distrust of data and materials generated and taught by other Abenaki organizations and
3.) leaders who feel personally threatened by "external" information and interpretations, and may condemn the information and its collectors.

This anti-intellectualism engenders a lack of interest in repatriation of lost data and artifacts; or the continuance of oral history research to detect and isolate cultural traditions unique to extant and emergent regional communities, or the Abenakis in general. This xenophobia may also alienate researchers, Native and non-Native, who could potentially offer new materials, information and counsel. One of the more egregious examples of this mindset was the squandering of generous grant monies meant for young Abenakis' ceremonial clothing. Rather than commit to making the best regalia for the youngsters, the leaders made minimal, but sufficient clothing, then boasted that they "pocketed" the remainder of the grant. When word of this action got out into the wider Vermont philanthropic community, it became much harder for Abenakis to access grant funds. This is just simply typical of what's on the agenda and the endeavor of ALL these concocted "Abenaki" incorporations claiming to be abenaki tribes or bands ... to line their pockets with Grant Funding from various sources in the name of their incorporation's representing "Abenakis" Since 2003, the situation degenerated further as some organizations attempted to gain unconstrained control over young Abenakis' learning by defaming other cultural organizations and their leaders.
From studying this dreary past practice in the current American Abenaki leadership, we must expect little new ethnic revitalization or participation from these groups, and only a lingering continuation of geographically inappropriate symbols, ceremonies and arts left over from the first and second phases of revitalization, perhaps in the best cases, mixed in with some newer data. As documented above, we can expect that alternatives will probably be apathetically ignored or seen as threats to the political power base established by these factions. Past experience also indicates that community leaders may attempt to wreck external initiatives unless they can be claimed as their own. But without the assistance of their increasingly apathetic constituencies and or increasingly estranged Euroamerican allies, today's leaders are becoming less effectual in thwarting the necessary new rounds of ethnic revitalization that seem to be arising in 21st century
 Page [11.]
Vermont. However, we cannot rule out the very real danger that these people pose to the continued progress of Abenaki culture. But knowing the problem is part of the solution.
However, the ethnic revitalization situation is entirely different with many young Abenakis, especially high school and college students and "twenty something" professionals. Occasional older Abenakis, especially those who have only recently discovered their heritage, also reject past apathy and seek a measure of cultural competency. These people seem entirely unwilling to accept the apathy and anger of their elders and desperately want to know their collective Abenaki identity. However, their desire has its costs. In 2004, these young Abenakis were chastised and shunned, because of their desire to learn more about their cultural history and its place in the wider native world. Yet they persist against community and family rebuke. It is these brave people who will complete Phase III and IV.

Part Three
Indigenous ethnic engineering in Vermont?
Missisquoi has seen five or more bouts of "after-school or extracurricular" programs attempting to revitalize culture through young Abenakis learning, the second of which is seen in the prologue to the video. They last until funding and interest by adult supervisors wanes, or factionalism sets in, then the program languishes and fails because the Grant Funding is used up or misspent. In contrast, programs heavily subsidized by Euroamerica, such as the UVM "Summer Happening" recur year after year. Grass-roots Abenaki unity programs (such as that shown in the frontispiece), which include a revitalization-programming component, seem to quickly falter under the pressures of interpersonal rivalry. Scholars who understand cultural revitalization know that programming, in of itself, is not sufficient, the desire for change on the part of community leaders, and families must be cultivated, and agents against continued cultural growth must be neutralized or at least marginalized. These scholars use a recent term, "ethnic engineering," to describe the directed and structured application of culturally and geographically authentic (or near-authentic) information to solve problems in community identity. It necessarily uses data, as well as technology to achieve its well-defined goals. In this paper I propose the application of an ethnic engineering model that is, in part, the underlying paradigm of the Against the Darkness System.

Needs assessment:
In the old days the voice of young people was vital in Abenaki councils in that it was they who would bear the brunt of the decisions made in assembly. On April 17, 2004, a conference called "The State of the Abenaki Nation" was held at Johnson State College. As part of the Conference, a panel of young Abenakis from different families and regions discussed their feelings about the future. Among many enlightening thoughts, they pointed out that young Abenakis have consistently wanted to understand their culture and heritage from local resources, not through books. Furthermore, young Abenakis are fully aware of and deeply appalled by the factionalism and infighting that plagues their elders.
 Page [12.]
In subsequent months, other young Abenakis echoed these sentiments time and time again. It appears that there is a vast desire on the part of young Abenakis for further ethnic revitalization, yet a distinct distrust of their elders in being able to "pull it off." This terminology "pull it off" sounds like "shoplifting an Abenaki culture and heritage that honestly does not belong to them; but these young reinvented and alleged "Abenakis" in their attempts to further their false "ethnic revitalization" and reinventing themselves, will do it regardless. Young identity thieves learn from their parents who stole an "Abenaki" identity for themselves just as easily since 1976.

Engineering design
If we accept the wisdom of the young in the design of a solution, then the task is clear.

First, the young, not their elders, must be the audience for future effective revitalization. Yet except for the example cited below, the young can only be accessed through their elders. Past practice (some examples cited above) indicates that community leaders, if they get wind of a new educational initiative that may undermine their authority, will certainly attempt to derail it. It is therefore extremely important that any proposed educational initiative be approved by a relatively broad group of adults more sympathetic to the young and education, and less sympathetic to power. This approval and access process has been the "weak link" in previous Abenaki ethnic engineering proposals. Most enlightened Abenaki children through high school at Missisquoi and elsewhere, tend to be in semi-organized or funded extracurricular groups under the watchful eye of adults generally linked to people who may be more or less defensive about their lore. An energetic public relations program, emphasizing the advantages of the revitalization plan, must precede any attempted educational initiative, and must be designed to be as non-threatening to entrenched power as possible. The repeated failure of adult-authoritative after school programming over the last three decades indicates that alternatives or enhancements to adult-generated programming must be sought. A possible alternative with great potential is empowering the youth to take a measure of control of their own revitalization. For example, Penobscot elder Watie Akins initiated the Abenaki Talking Circle, a program originally suggested by young Abenaki Brent Reader. The "Circle of Courage" Program is based on Lakota tradition of values; NOT Abenaki culture, heritage or values. The grass-roots cadre of high school college, graduate school, and young working Abenakis is not led by any adult, or even by any individual. It has advisors and coordinators, but no leaders. The programming and proposed activities are determined in council where all have an equal voice. This has led to beadwork instruction by master bead worker Cindy Gordon, dance practice, video screenings, participation in feature films by Alanis Obomsawin, and trips to other Indian reservations such as Akwesasne in New York. Such an endeavor may serve as a prototype for other, perhaps more organized initiatives.

It would enhance the revitalization process if youth-oriented ethnic engineering initiatives were designed in a format that was trendy or interesting for youngsters, yet understandable, but only marginally fashionable for their elders. For example, when not in session, the Abenaki Talking Circle communicates via e-mail, and posts data and imagery via the Internet, or "burned" CD's exchanging images and music. However, the Wobanakik Heritage Center, the Against the Darkness System and other adult organizations provide, by request only of the Circle, data, guidance and contact information that is then converted into usable data by the group. This independent low-level youth based and directed activity decreases the potential for subversion of the information and the message by the fixed adult leadership. This activity indicates that the
 Page [13.]
constantly and eagerly used world of "My Space" type chat rooms, pod casting, video and gaming, and web-casting and hyper linked emailing, routinely used by these youngsters, is barely tapped at a device for delivery of revitalization content. Abenakis have always been eager to acquire new technologies, and later treat them as traditional; from firearms and steel avow-points in the 1600's to wool trade cloth and seed beads in the 1800's. The revolutionary digital technology is no exception; as this is written, it is being used to fashion specific tools for ethnic defense and revitalization. The Against the Darkness System is a primitive step in this "digital" direction, but such initiatives need much more development if it is to meet the knowledge and emotional needs of the young.
But motivated young Abenakis also need to have a clear idea of what is authentic heritage and what is not, and most importantly, to have a "BS filter" so that they can evaluate sources or bearers of information. Anyone taking Fred M. Wiseman's work as being "legitimately scholarly" and unbiased, at least in my opinion, NEEDS a "BS Filter" against his created BS; even the O.F.A., of the B.I.A., concluded that! Assuming access to young minds is permitted by adult "gatekeepers" or sought by the youth themselves, any proposed ethnic engineering revitalization program must be extremely conscientious regarding the empirical data, inferences and interpretation, and the presentation curricula; certainly; more so than that required by the Vermont Dept. of Education for curricula meeting the Grade Cluster Expectations (GCEs). Only this care can give the next generation of Abenakis the necessary `BS filter" that they so desperately need.
Part Three
There are many existing, powerful sources for Vermont Abenakis to use to achieve individual and collective cultural competency; ranging from activities to classes, to readings, to talking circles and even the Against the Darkness System. However, there are social forces just as strong that work against cultural competency, including individual and community apathy, greed on the part of leaders, inter-personal and inter-group jealousies and rivalries, and a lack of community and financial support.
A combination of forces are converging in the early 2000's that point the way to a bright future for Abenaki renaissance: a mixture of
1) a geometrically increasing knowledge base of the Vermont Abenaki experience,
2.) traditional, adult-based teaching and programming,
3.) constantly augmented with grass-roots youth initiatives,
4.) enhanced by the increasingly powerful digital world of work-station and wi-fi portable computer, video cell phone, internet, interactive, High-Definition and standard video, computer and "play station-" type gaming, pod- and web-casting and 5.) the entirely untapped potential of "survival" type eco/cultural experiences, role-playing and period reenacting. Content, and audience are all in place. Data delivery systems are being refined. There is optimism that the ethnic engineering process discussed here will succeed. It is also possible that other solutions will present themselves. We all can hope.
Page [14.]

Below is a treatise on Abenaki Identity, prepared by request for the Vermont House General, Housing & Military Affairs Committee given as testimony for state recognition in 2006. This document may assist in understanding the identity issues embedded in the revitalization process.
"Abenaki Identity"
Fred Wiseman, Ph.D.
Professor and Department Chair,
Johnson State College
January 8, 2006

(Please note: this analysis is from a scholarly, not a native rights advocacy perspective.)
Indian Identity
1. Identity is a negotiation between "who I say I am" and "who others say I am". In the case of "classic" minorities, all one has to do is self-identify and the civil rights of that legal status are bestowed. It would be inappropriate to have someone "prove" his or her race through DNA analysis, religion through attendance records to church or temple or sexual preference in the bedroom, especially since "racial profiling" is no longer politically correct. African-Americans Latinos, Jews or gays do not have to prove who they are before the media or civil rights courts.
2. However, this situation does not apply to Native Americans, who have to prove who they are, individually and collectively. Since the 18th century, American Indian identity has been in the hands of British-Americans. To qualify for the special civil liberties and opportunities afforded to other "classic," or self-identifying minorities, a person of native descent needs to be:
1.) an enrolled member (with enrollment criteria agreed to by Anglo bureaucracies),
2.) of a federal or state recognized tribe (with the tribal criteria controlled by Anglo bureaucracies). Merely saying that one has an "Indian princess" ancestor is meaningless and carries no legal weight. Since British-American political interests control Indian identity, other racist peculiarities abound, including

a. the apparent absence of any pejorative racial slur that applies to Natives.
b. the persistence of racial stereotypes in art/illustration (i.e. pie-plate eyes, big noses, buck teeth with regards to the Cleveland Indians, University of Illinois "Chief Illiniwink," etc. logos).
c. the pejorative casino Indian stereotype-- who is either too stupid to know he is being taken advantage of (i.e. the well-publicized scams done by the Democratic National Committee against Indian tribes in the 2003-04 presidential campaign, or the ongoing Abramoff scandal), or cagily deprives senor citizens of their life savings while state regulators look on helplessly (Connecticut government and media propaganda against the Mashentucket Pequot and to a lesser extent the Mohegans)
d. state officials are permitted to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer monies in an attempt to "prove" that local Indians are cultural and political frauds (i.e. Connecticut and Vermont Attorney Generals' Offices) to protect powerful political and economic interests; without any public outcry that this is a major human rights violation (as is being done in the prosecution of the Milosevic regime which "proved" that Serbian Muslims were ethnic Albanians, to deprive them of Serbian rights)

Vermont Abenaki Identities
Without any formal "official" recognition of Indian identity, the Vermont situation is very fluid, and little understood. However, for purposes of introduction, I divide Abenakis into five distinct groups, ranging from most to least well-documented; and one external group, which causes profound problems with Indian identity:
Page [15.]
1. Missiquoi.
For many years, there was little misunderstanding on the part of Anglo or Franco-Vermonters of who the Abenakis were, they were a group of Indians living in Northwestern Vermont with a definite homeland, and community structure. Missisquoi Abenakis know who they and their families are and where they have lived, and genealogy and residence are very important parts of individual and collective Missisquoi identity. Missisquoi has a well-developed organizational system with governmental branches, including a Chief, Tribal Council and social services branches, educational institutions such as the Indian Education and museum programs, and many Iinks with state and federal educational and cultural agencies. It is Missisquoi that anthropologists such as UVM's Bill Haviland and Marjory Power; or others such as myself from JSC, have focused on in their research. It is Missisquoi Abenakis who have borne the brunt of racial detestation by Vermonters from the 1970's remarks that the Abenakis were "a bunch of drunken Frenchmen asking for a government handout (as told to me by a fowler friend in 1975), to the current portrayal of Abenakis as Frenchmen asking for a special privileges from the government, the oft-published, but incorrect position of the Vermont Attorney General's Office. There is little doubt on the part of anyone in Vermont that Missisquoi Abenakis carry Indian identity, and have in the past, and continue to suffer, for it.

2. Other organized groups. There are many (I know of about 6) other groups of New England Abenakis, formed
1.) around charismatic individuals or
2.) in response to internal political squabbles at Missisquoi.

These groups have varying levels of cultural activity, ranging from the very active Cowasucks of North America, (Note: this group recently imploded!!) which have language programs; a library, a very fine newsletter, to very much less than that. They may consider themselves organizationally a tribe, clan, circle or non-profit organization. They have onl recently emerged, and are still below the anthropological and political "radar screen;" so they ac a well-known Euroamericans) -homelland, organized family bandor a alternative structure; and other cultural characteristics that draw serious study by anthropologists or the vaath of Vermonters. They are also quite unstable, splitting and coalescing at will, and suffer horrible internecine conflict.

3. Professional Abenakis. These are (generally) well-educated individuals without ties to existing American Indigenous political groups, cultural homelands or genealogies, who make their livelihood as being Abenaki Indians, usually as educators, storytellers and craftspeople. They are quite outspoken and influential, often aligning themselves with powerful Euroamerican institutions such as the University of Vermont or creating their own private institutes. Given the national scandals regarding people without documented native ancestry being hired as "Indian" (e.g. the Ward Churchill/University of Colorado controversy), it is probably appropriate for the suitable Euroamerican institutions to scrutinize unaffiliated Abenakis when they hold employment in Euroamerican organizations, or speak to Euroamerican agencies based on their ethnicity.

4. Assimilated Abenakis. These are people who recognize Abenaki ancestry, but prefer to define themselves as Vermonters or Americans. They generally do not participate in cultural activities, but are important because they pass on an Abenaki connection to their children, who may wish to enhance their native awareness in the future.

5. Abenaki Deniers. These are people who for various reasons (including the necessary denial of Abenaki identity during the Eugenics Survey ethnic cleansing of the 1930's) deny their native heritage. They are often great critics of Abenaki communities and their relatives who profess an Abenaki identity.

6. "'Wannabies" These are people without native genealogy, cultural ties or history who wish for various psychological, social or economic reasons to assume an Indian identity Oh, really? This sounds A LOT like Swanton's " St. Francis/Sokoki bunch that Fred M. Wiseman's belongs to, advocates for, and supports in his holier-than-thou we-are-historical-because-we-have-been-around-longer-than-any-incorporated-group nonsense. As with other con artists, they are often quite persuasive and well versed in "Indian lore," and are therefore hard to expose UNLESS of course, one has a Ph.D who works for Johnson State College who makes B.S. up as he goes along, buying stuff off from eBay.com and having his College students create "reproduction" "Abenaki" "artificats". However, anthropologists and sociologists who study this phenomenon, have shown that an over-emphasis on spirituality (often a generalized "pan Indian" form of religion), an avoidance of working closely with well established native organizations, and inappropriate overuse of native protocols ("Indian" naming, clothing, behaviors, etc.) are indicators. Missisquoi and perhaps other native organizations have well developed and implemented rigorous enrollment criteria to prevent wannabes from achieving an unwarranted Indian identity. The contradictions and distortions coming from Frederick M. Wiseman Ph.D are so many, it's beyond my person not to laugh. Even IF his statement were even remotely truthful, then Carol Nepton wouldn't have send so MANY people who claimed to be "Abenaki" letters requesting further genealogical documentation to support their claims! It has been the tradition of Anglo governments to empower native tribes to police the legitimacy of their own tribal rolls. Fred M. Wiseman Ph.D just LOVES to repeatedly use that word "ANGLO", doesn't he?!

Implications for recognition
I hope that this has given a perspective on the Indian identity issue that can be applied to the question of Abenaki recognition. For civil/human rights purposes, it is probably appropriate to cast a "wide net" to
 Page [16.]
include all with Abenaki ancestry under the rubric of "Native American," to give Abenakis equivalent rights of other minorities who can self-identify. This is accomplished in the S.117 bill as it stands. However, it is also important that positions of power such as membership on the proposed Vermont Native American Commission belong to Abenakis with native ancestry as documented by legitimate tribal authorities. The Commission, and or the Division for Historic Preservation should be empowered to develop protocols to approve the Indian identity of applicants to the Commission.

Potential Non Abenaki members of the Native American Commission
Since all other nations represented in the state are state or federally recognized, there is no question regarding the identity of non-Abenaki Indians residing in Vermont. If the membership in the Commission is to be opened to citizens of other Indian nations, they should certainly provide documentation of enrollment in their federally recognized tribe.
 Page [17.]
"Many Native people have discovered, at different time in their lives, that they are in fact Indian. This does not make them less Indian. However they cannot, because they have not been raised in it, have the knowledge, understanding, relationship with Earth, that a traditionally raised person can have. They can have all the formal education, all the degrees in the world, and it doesn't make any difference. For such a person to assume the identity of an Indian authority is a sham and a lie."
 Page [1.]
Fred M. Wiseman Ph. D
Director, Abenaki Tribal Museum
Chair, Department of Humanities, Johnson State College

Although I [Frederick Matthew Wiseman Ph.D.] worked with Senators Diane Snelling and Vince Illuzzi to incorporate language [Wiseman Ph.D helped write the criteria for S.117 and S.222] that would allow relatively simple certification of Abenaki artists, the final version of 5.117 did not recognize any Abenaki corporate entities (tribes). The legally vague recognition of the "Abenaki people." was a statutory action that is not legally applicable to the certification of artists.
Abenaki decorative artists do not currently meet the criteria of the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act; in that they must be enrolled or certified by State or Federally recognized tribes. This problem extends beyond the decorative arts such as basketry, birch-bark canoe building and jewelry-making to the performing arts. For example, the Schemitzun Pow-Wow of the Mashentucket Pequot Nation does not accept competition dancers from the Abenaki community. The Pequots require documentation of enrolled membership in State or Federally recognized tribes. A young Abenaki woman [Takara nee: Matthews] who has won many competitions, including the Dartmouth Pow-Wow; will not he able to compete in the Schemitzun "young adult" category this August 24-27 in Connecticut. However, through S.117, there is now a mechanism by which artist certification may occur.

The new Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs has the statutory power to permit Vermont Abenakis be certified as Indian artists under the 1990 Indian Arts and Crafts Act. Below is the relevant section of the 5.117 recognition bill that addresses that issue:

(c) The commission shall have the authority to assist Native American tribal councils, organizations, and individuals to:
(2) Permit the creation, display, and sale of Native American arts and crafts and legally to label them as Indian- or Native American-produced as provided in 18 U.S.C. § I I 59(c)(3)(B) and 25 U.S.C. § 305e(d)(3)(B).

This section of the 5.117 state law refers to the federal statutes (listed below) regarding the Indian Arts and Crafts act of 1990 and the Indian Arts and Crafts Board. In order to see bow this will work we need to look at the applicable sections of the Arts and Craft Act, and the empowering legislation surrounding it. As pointed out above. the §853(a) "The state of Vermont recognizes the Abenaki people" part of the S.117 bill does not address these aspects of the Arts and Craft Act at all.
 Page [2.]
Step #1 The Vermont Native American Commission must formally recognize legitimate Vermont Tribes

Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990
Sec. 1159 Misrepresenation of Indian produced goods and products
(c) As used in this section--
(1) the term "Indian" means any indivdual who is a member of an Indian tribe, or for the purposes of this section is certified as an Indian artisan by an Indian tribe;
(3) the term "Indian tribe" means--
(B) any Indian group that has been formally recognized as an Indian tribe by a State legislature or by a State commission or similar organization legislatively vested with State tribal recognition authority;

As you can see from the abstract above, under Sec. 104 (c)(3)(b), this means that an Indian tribe (legal under the Arts and Crafts Act) can now be "formally recognized" by the Vermont Native American Commission, which ahs its statutory mandate to do this from the VT Legislature.

Therefore the Commission must develop criteria and protocols for recognizing existing Abenaki groups resident in Vermont, in order to extend the 1990 Indian Arts and Craft Act to Vermont Abenakis. There are many criteria that have been established states in the past. A rather extreme example, basically patterned after that of the Bureau of Acknowledgement, Bureau of Indian Affairs, is presented below:
The criteria that must be satisfied by a petitioning group in order to qualify for recommendation by the Council for Virginia state recognition can besummarized as follows:

Showing that the group's members have retained a specifically Indian identity through time.

Descent from an historical Indian tribe(s) that have lived within Virginia's current boundaries at the time of that tribe's first contact with Europeans.

Ability to trace that tribe's continued existence within Virginia from first contact down to the present.

Providing a complete genealogy of current group members, traced as far back as possible.

Showing that the community has been socially distinct - at least for the 20th century, and farther back if possible - from other cultural groups, preferably by organizing seperate churches, schools, political organizations, etc.

Providing evidence of contemporary formal organization, with full membership restricted to people genealogically descended from the historical tribe(s).

These criteria are a useful reference, but inapplicable in Vermont. First, these exclusionary criteria, developed by a hostile state government with motives similar to that or pre-recognition Vermont, are inappropriate given the current climate of cooperation between state and native population. Second, the Commission, without state and budget (as does Virginia) lacks the time and manpower to conduct extensive background research on Vermont tribes. However, some form of documentation of 18th-
Page [3.]
20th century cultural and genealogical continuity should be developed and applied to the issue of State tribal recognition. There have been several Vermont Indian groups that have recently emerged with uncertain tribal homelands, histories and sociopolitical continuity. It would reflect well upon the credibility of the State of Vermont (and its Native population) if only legitimate tribal organizations were empowered to certify artists. A proposed preliminary set of criteria:

1. Do members of the tribe genealogical connection to know Abenaki groups of the past?

2. Has the Abenaki tribe maintained an identifiable Native American community culture through time as evidenced by any or all of the following

a. Accounts by outside observers
b. Oral histories by tribal members and Euroamerican neighbors
c. Production of native craft arts or distinctive subsistence and other practices that are distinct from their Euroamerican neighbors.

A 10-page response to these simple criteria could be assembled easily by legitimate Vermont tribes, and quickly approved or disapproved by the Commission. However, there is a potential for prejudice on the part of Commission members and reticence on the part of Vermont tribes; that may impede the State recognition process. It will require professionalism on the part of Commission members to properly solicit applications, and conduct the research to recognize individual tribes. Approval should be by majority vote, so as to limit potential factionalism.

Step #2 The recognized tribes must develop criteria for non-enrolled Abenakis to become certified artisans.

Furthermore, while all enrolled citizens of the tribe automatically become certifiable as Indian artists, there is a process by which un-enrolled artists can become certified by the tribes. This process is dealth with in 25 CFR Part 309 below:
Indian Arts and Crafts Board
25 CFR Part 309
SUMMARY: This rule adoptes regulations to carry out Public Law 101-644, the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. The regulations define the nature and Indian origin of products that the law covers and specify procedures for carrying out the law. The trademark provisions of the Act are not included in this rulemaking and will be treated at a later time.
Sec. 309.4. How can an individual be certified as an Indian artisan?
(a) In order for an individual to be certified by an Indian tribe as a non-member Indian artisan for purposes of this part-
(1) The individual must be of Indian lineage of one or more members of such Indian tribe; and
(2) The certification must be documented in writing by the governing body of an Indian tribe or by a certifying body delegated this function by the governing body of the Indian tribe.
(b) As provided in sectio 107 of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, Public Law 101-644, a tribe may not impose a fee for certifying an Indian artisan.

(b) Indian artisan means an individual who is certified by an Indian tribe as a non-Indian artisan.

We can see from the above statutory references, that each Abenaki tribe that may be recognized by the Native American Commission must adopt rules and procedures for certifying non-tribally enrolled artists. Under Federal statute, this procedure is left up to the individual tribes to develop. It is obvious that a non-enrolled artist does not have the strength of genealogical data for enrollment, so a less stringent certification code, such as oral history, acceptance of the applicant or his family as "Indian" by others, or alternate supporting data may have to suffice for this purpose.

Actually, it is obvious that a "non-enrolled Native/Abenaki artist" could actually have the strength of genealogical data for enrollment, yet chooses NOT to enroll into a mere "Abenaki" INCORPORATON which attempts to pawn itself off as a legitimate "Abenaki Tribe or Band" when IN FACT it never was, never legitimately is, and never will be, an "authentic" Abenaki Tribe or Abenaki Band in the first place. That's why these incorporation's "representatives" and "supporter's" sit on the present day Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs there in Montpelier, Washington County, Vermont. These legislature's of VT and NH "BS Filters" are stuck under their desks, while these politicians play stupid, and forget to do their homework, on this Professor Wiseman and his "Alliance" cronies he attempts to validate with his BS.
Indeed, Mr. Ph.D Wiseman helped create the criteria for S.117 and S.222, which was subsequently even further altered by the likes of Hinda Miller and Vincent Illuzzi, so that ALL these INCORPORATIONS of dubious questionable "Abenakis" could simply sit on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, with their buddies from the Dept. of Historical Preservation ... and subsequently grant themselves their own recommendations for "Legislative Recognition" for the very Reinvented and Alleged "Abenaki" Incorporation's that these people actually belong to! Slapping each other on the backsides for "pulling it off".

Search This Blog