Thursday, local schoolchildren, partners in the garden project and the public have been invited to celebrate the harvest and to honor the agricultural heritage and contemporary culture of the Abenaki with tours, cooking demonstrations and other educational activities followed by a community potluck and barn dance.
The garden and the harvest celebration "are a way for us to share a part of our heritage and our culture - not just the past but the future, too," said April St. Francis Merrill of Swanton, chief of the St. Francis/Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi.
Merrill and her tribal community are key partners in the project, which was created in 2008 by volunteer advisory board members of the Burlington Community Area Gardens (BACG), a program of Burilington Parks and Recreation.
The Abenaki Heritage Garden now is an Intervale Center project with a community of representatives from BACG, the St. Francis/Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi, Gardner's Supply Co, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Serve and the University of Vermont's Environmental Program - all of which will participate in Thursday's celebration.
This year, the project also received funding from Will and Lynette Raap and New Chapter, a Brattleboro-based organic dietary supplement company, and is now part of the international Sacred Seeds Network, a program of the William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
"We have lots of great team members. We've learned a lot from each other," Merrill said. "It's through programs and events like these we can help people understand more about us."
If You Go
WHAT: Heritage Harvest Festival showcasing the Intervale
-The public part of the starts at 3 p.m. with a free, family friendly open house featuring garden tours, clay pot cooking and corn grinding demonstrations, and other opportunities to learn about the area's Abenaki heritage and culture.
-At 6 p.m. there will be a free Slow Food Vermont Community Potluck. Bring a dish to share. Plates, utensils and napkins provided, but bring your own to reduce waste.
-At 7 p.m. there will be a Heritage Harvest Hoedown barn dance ($5) with Malcolm Sanders and friends.
WHERE: Intervale Center, 180 Intervale Road, Burlington.
MORE INFORMATION: 660-0440 or http://www.intervale.org/
May 07, 2007
Page B3 Continued......
Native American craftsmen are stymied by Vermont law
No label: A legal twist prevents Abenaki artisans from selling wares as Native American made.
By LISA RATHKE
The Associated Press
ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. - Judy Dow, an Abenaki Indian, has been making baskets for 40 years.
She displays some in museums, sells others, and gives many away. To her, they're a way of keeping alive a tradition she fears might otherwise disappear
What she says she can't do - because of a quirk in Vermont law - is label them "Native American made."
"I know who I am," she said. "People don't really say to me, "Is this an Abenaki basket?" "They know I'm Abenaki."
Last year, Vermont lawmakers granted state recognition to the Abenaki, who say they are descendants of what's known as the Western Abenaki tribes.
A goal was to permit the Abenaki to create, sell and display their crafts as Indian-made. A commission was set up to help do just that.
But the state law granting them recognition conflicts with a federal law designed to prevent the sale of fraudulent American Indian art because it doesn't give the commission the authority to recognize tribes, said Mark Mitchell, an Abenaki who chairs the state's Commission on Native American Affairs.
The Vermont law recognizes the Abenaki as a people, not a tribe.
North Carolina and Virignia have commissions that identify tribes that are not federally recognized for the purposes of selling arts and crafts.
But the Vermont Attorney General's office says Vermont's commission doesn't have or need the authority to recognize tribes for the artist's sake.
The federal law "is a truth-in-marketing" type act. If somebody really has Native American ancestry, there's nothing to prevent them from saying that," said Assistant Attorney General Mike McShane.
But the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Board, which is part of the U.S. Department of Interior, identifies an Indian as a member of a tribe. "If you are not an enrolled member of state or federal tribe and you are not certified as a nonmember Indian artisan by a tribe of this descent, then you are in violation of the act," said Meredith Stanton, executive director of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
"This think that Vermont has done is completely different than we've seen in the past," she said. "I would hope that the state (Vermont) would bring some clarity to their law."
The state Commission on Native American Affairs has proposed giving itself the power to recognize the various Abenkai bands or tribes in Vermont. But the state has resisted; the governor's legal counsel plans to seek a solution to the dilemma this summer.
For Judy Dow, 53, a commission member who started making baskets when she was 10 and learned the techniques from a number of tribes, the issue is a sore spot. It is to others, too.
"It's a crime to say you're Abenaki and sell your craft," said Jesse Larocque, who makes black ash baskets in West Danville. "To me it's more irritating than anything else. The letter of the law is what they're fighting about rather than the spirit of the law."
The federal law is intended to prevent fraudulent people from exploiting Native Americans and their art, he said.
"What the governor signed into law was supposed to be a good thing," he said. "Then we've got somebody else reinterpreting the law."
For now, artisans can sell their work labeled as made by an artist of Abenaki descent, said Ken Van Wey, program assistant for the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.
That label sounds to Mark Mitchell like "second class."
The struggle to save our burial sites and prevent environmental destruction is not enough.
We know we have to compete with lateral oppression to save the land. The Intervale Center puts out an annual newsletter called "Explorer." This week, Explorer 2008 came out and inside the cover was a letter from April St. Francis. I have copied her letter here for you to read.
The Intervale produced a vast amount of animal, plant and riverine resources that would have attracted ancient native groups to this area to collect seasonally available foods and other needed resources. As agriculture developed these people were able to harvest corn, beans and squash and other cultigens for winter storage in deep pits dug itno the pits of their lodges for easy access. To this day, Abenaki families continue to live in the area surrounding the Intervale and continue to collect seleveted plants for food and medicinal purposes and to fish the river.
The Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi has been aware of and has had many dealings with archaeological site issues in this area since the 1970's before the Intervale Center was created. The Abenakis' intent is to work with the Intervale's staff and board to protect these sites and to live in harmony with our neighbors.
We feel we can work through any issue by sitting at the table with one another and discussing the concerns we all have. Developing a strong and long-lasting collaboration between us will go a long way towards solving any challenges that may arsie inthe future.
Chief April St. Francis Merrill
Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi
St. Francis/Sokoki Band
LINK: http://reinventedvermontabenaki.blogspot.com/2010/04/february-28-2008-charles-megeso.html .....
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 2:50 PMTo: Shapiro, Steven; Peebles, Giovanna; email@example.com April St. Francis Merrill ; Webb, Suzanne; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com David Skinas
Cc: Dillon, Scott
Subject: RE: Ancestors at Medical Examiner's office
Thank you for the opportunity. I think it would be in everyone's interest to know as much as possible about the individuals befor reburial. We would be interested in collecting basic age/sex/stature info and any obvious pathologies, etc., as we have done in the past for Native burials that have been disturbed. If this information already exists, then no need to repeat it. In our experience, however, the ME's office (old!) would tend not to spend too much time on remains once it was determined that they were archaeological in age (Native or early historic).
April St. Francis Merrill knows the folks I would have look at the remains. Not sure we could accomplish this before the New Year but likely could early in January. Cullen Black will be back for a short period-- he's now on a fellowship at JPAC CIL in Hawaii working on MIA recovery for the military. Alix Martin is here and also will be the teaching assistant in the spring for a human osteology class taught by Deborah Blom, our biological anthropogist in the Department.
Look forward to meeting you at some point. Thanks again for the information.
John G. Crock
At 02:29 PM 12/20/2007, Shapiro, Steven wrote:
180 Colchester Ave.
Yet, it would appear from the "historical" emailcommunication's and Burlington Free Press Newspaper articles (etc), that April St. Francis - Merrill was on a "power trip" concerning the Intervale Center "situation" ... concerning Mrs. Judy Dow. April St. Francis Merrill very likely felt "insecure" and felt that saying, publicly in the media, such that she did and to pose questions as to whether or not Judy Dow was/ or was not of Native descent (especially NOT "Abenaki" ... like April St. Francis Merrill claimed to be). Truth be known, genealogically-speaking, neither "Chief" April Merrill nor "Abenaki" Judy Dow were better than, or less than, each other!
It was Judy Dow that was retrospectively, "causing trouble" for the Intervale Center and the D.H.P. archaeological endeavors (right along with Scott Dillon and David Skinas interests) in the Intervale Center because it has been known as a Archaelogical "Goldmine" of artifacts and Native American human remains. Therefore, Judy Dow making "noise" politically-speaking, THREATENED the interests of these Archaeologists such such as "Gio" Peebles ultimately,along with David Skinas, and others. The Intervale Center "native geographical area" represents "FUNDING" and "JOB SECURITY" for those involved in the Intervale Center area. This "native geographical area" would also interest Frederick Matthew Wiseman Ph.D. as well as April (St. Francis) Merrill I am sure. It was and still is, all about the Monetary Funding and NAGPRA Grants. It's also about POWER, EGO, and especially CONTROL.
So, when Judy Dow "began causing trouble" for ICP politically etc..... naturally, April Merrill began to perpetuate "lateral violence" against Judy Dow by seeking out and communicating by telephone, with Judy Dow's estranged sister, to undermine and attempt to discredit Judy Dow's claims of having an "Abenaki heritage" [see the above LINK above, and the documents in that particular posting]. To give yet another article regarding the Intervale Center Compost "situation" and the dynamics surrounding that, I will add one more 4-page article:
ICP's predicament stems in large part from complaints filed by Judy Dow, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. Dow, 53, grew up near the Intervale. Over the last year, she's been publicly criticizing the composting operation as an environmental and archeological hazard. She claims ICP is perched atop an Abenaki burial ground, though she refuses to furnish documentation to back up her assertion.
April St. Francis Merrill, "chief" of the "Abenaki" "Nation" of [at?] "Missisquoi", "St. Francis"/"Sokoki ""band", offers a harsher critique of Judy Dow. She says that her fellow tribespeople are incensed over the woman's actions. "Judy Dow claims that she represents all the Abenaki people," notes Merrill. "She doesn't represent them, so I don't know where she gets off saying that, just because she's on a commission."
Either way, the two women hold opposing views on the Intervale situation. While Dow condemns ICP, St. Francis Merrill praises it as a model of sustainability. "When the Intervale first started," notes the latter, "we thought it was kind of a good idea — that we recycle, and reuse, and go back to Mother Earth . . . as long as the burial section was protected, that was our major concern. That's always been our concern with any historical site, that they're not desecrated."
REMEBER: David Skinas was retrospectively appointed or placed onto the Intervale Center Board of Director's in 2007.
Was Dr. Skinas put on this Intervale Board, at the demands of/insistence/or manipulation of "Chief" April (St. Francis) Merrill of the St. Francis/Sokoki Band at or of Missisquoi (Swanton, Vt.) whom he has a long "working relationship" with? Hmm, THINK ABOUT THAT. Now, was he (Skinas), by being on this Intervale Center Board of Director's of ICP, in violation of ethics, and or in a conflict of interest, considering?
The former Governor Appointee's (including Judy Dow) felt responsible for burying these Native American human remains from the Lamoille/ Mallett's Creek area. Thus Judy Dow contacted the Medicial Examiner's Office. The Medicial Examiner gave the Native American human remains to April St. Francis Merrill yet the Medicial Examiner did not seemingly have permission to do so. Apparently, the Medical Examiner had concluded that the email correspondence between Giovanna Peebles and April Merrill "was permission enough," in order to give April Merrill permission for the reburial/ repatriation of these 3 sets of Native American human remains in July 2of 008.
It would seem that April Merrill did this in (July of 2008) just to "show that the Intervale area was part of her homeland" in some sort of eogtistical mental "gotcha" headgame with Judy Dow. Perhaps I am wrong, or perhaps I am right?
No one from D.H.P. nor the Medical Examiner's Office apparently consulted at the time with any "Abenakis" from the Intervale area itself. Certainly with the ICP political mess going on with Judy A. (Fortin) Dow, they all considered her, "not Abenaki enough."
Judy Dow had retrospectively telephoned Dr. David Skinas, who informed her that the Native American remains were repatriated into the ground, in the Intervale next to or near a homeless man.
He would also reportedly terrorize and chase away people who would come near his "encampment" in the woods in Burlington with a knife.
Perhaps Dr. Skinas with his "Abenaki" "Chief" April St. Francis Merrill (along with Giovanna Peebles?) felt that the homeless man could "protect" the repatriation site of the Native American human remains from being disturbed again? Yet, the location of the human remains seemingly were buried where leachate was being pumped, which has lead, arsonic and carcinogen's in it, which in turn, "eats up" and destroys archaeological artifacts and Native American human remains.
It would appear that Dr. David Skinas being on the Intervale Center Board of Directors was in conflict of interest, because he was (and still is) in a working relationship with April Merrill of the St. Francis/ Sokoki "Abenaki" "band" at or of the Missisquoi. So much for respecting Intervale's "Mocassin Village" ancestors.
REMEMBER when I mentioned earlier in this posting just "what makes Mrs. April (St. Francis) Merrill assume that she is ANY better than/or less than, Mrs. Judy (Fortin) Dow?" Hmmm, let's do a little genealogical comparative analysis.....
So, let's take a glimpse INTO a portion of Judy Ann (nee: Fortin) Dow's genealogical background:
Judy (Fortin) Dow was born Feb. 10, 1954 in Burlington, Chittenden County, VT to Robert Fitzman/ Fidiem Fortin andMarguerite Elizabeth (nee: LaCasse) Fortin.
Marie Charlotte Menard
Now, let's take a look at April Ann (nee St. Francis) Rushlow - Merrill's partial genealogical background:
Clarification: of course, I don't profess to know either of these women's total ancestors all the way back to "Adam and Eve" and so, perhaps in their ancestries' they might have a Native Ancestor here and there, moreso than I have mentioned in this particular posting.
But my point is this... that it is many, many generations (11 to 14 generations) from the historically and genealogically identified (documented) DISTANT Native Ancestor's existence, of these 2 women. Upon entering the "native geographical area" (as Dr. Wiseman Ph.D. says) of the State of Vermont, the particular ancestors of these two women, were NOT identifying as "Abenakis," nor as "Algonquin" (nor as "Indian's) on the State of Vermont Birth-Marriage-Death records, let alone U.S. Census records ... since their ancestor's located into Vermont. So, what legitimately observable Native American Western Abenaki Community do these people come from, lived in, and can speak for? They each SAY they are "Abenaki women," who come from "Abenaki Community." April St. Francis Merrill has stated she speaks for the "Missisquoi/ St. Francis-Sokoki" "Abenakis." The Attorney General's Office in 2002 and the subsequently the B.I.A.'s O.F.A. concluded otherwise, based on the faulty data she (Aprill Merrill) and Frederick Wiseman Ph.D., John Scott Moody, etc submitted to the O.F.A.
So, again I inquire, exactly whom has been perpetuating "lateral violence" against whom ... and whom is actually perpetuating "ethnic historical erasure"?
Seems to my thinking (and the supportive documention, historically and contemporarily) that if anyone has been proven to have been perpetuating documented "lateral violence" and or "ethnic historical and contemporary erasure" and continues to do so, it would be the member's and supporter's of this concocted 2008 "Abenaki Alliance" in Vermont, against others, such as towards Judy Dow, Richard "Skip" Bernier, Brad Barratt and Nancy LeCompte, etc. I would surmise that this oft made useage of this term "lateral violence" accusation, is in the "eye of the beholder." I would say, that those who accuse, are merely "calling the kettle black." Here on this blog, I comment on various dynamic's "as I have seen these reinvented abenaki dynamics or see it" .... and the document's on this blog (which are more important to review than anything I have had to or will say commentarily) can speak for themselves!
BUT ONWARD, INTO MORE INFORMATIVE DOUCMENTS...