Recommend to the Governor actions that will facilitate communication with, and the exchange of information about, Federal, state, or other government programs or information that may assist Native Americans in the State culturally, educationally, or economically.
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 1 V.S.A. chapter 23 is added to read:
The general assembly finds that:
(1) At least 1,700 Vermonters claim to be direct descendants of the several indigenous Native American peoples, now known as Western Abenaki tribes, who originally inhabited all of Vermont and New Hampshire, parts of western Maine, parts of southern Quebec, and parts of upstate New York for hundreds of years, beginning long before the arrival of Europeans.
(2) There is ample archaeological evidence that demonstrates that the Missisquoi Abenaki were indigenous to and farmed the river floodplains of Vermont at least as far back as the 1100s A.D.
(3) The Western Abenaki, including the Missisquoi, have a very definite and carefully maintained oral tradition that consistently references the Champlain valley in western Vermont.
(4) Many contemporary Abenaki families continue to produce traditional crafts and intend to continue to pass on these indigenous traditions to the younger generations. In order to create and sell Abenaki crafts that may be labeled as Indian- or Native American-produced, the Abenaki must be recognized by the state of Vermont.
(5) Federal programs may be available to assist with educational and cultural opportunities for Vermont Abenaki and other Native Americans who reside in Vermont.
§ 852. VERMONT COMMISSION ON NATIVE AMERICAN AFFAIRS ESTABLISHED; AUTHORITY
(a) In order to recognize the historic and cultural contributions of Native Americans to Vermont, to protect and strengthen their heritage, and to address their needs in state policy, programs, and actions, there is hereby established the Vermont commission on Native American affairs (the “commission”).
(b) The commission shall comprise seven members appointed by the governor for two-year terms from a list of candidates compiled by the division for historic preservation. The governor shall appoint a chair from among the members of the commission. The division shall compile a list of candidates’ recommendations from the following:
(1) Recommendations from the Missisquoi Abenaki and other Abenaki and other Native American regional tribal councils and communities in Vermont.
(2) Applicants who apply in response to solicitations, publications, and website notification by the division of historical preservation.
(c) The commission shall have the authority to assist Native American tribal councils, organizations, and individuals to:
(1) Secure social services, education, employment opportunities, health care, housing, and census information.
(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. § 1159(c)(3)(B) and 25 U.S.C. § 305e(d)(3)(B).
(4) Become eligible for federal assistance with educational, housing, and cultural opportunities.
(5) Establish and continue programs offered through the U.S. Department of Education Office on Indian Education pursuant to Title VII of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act established in 1972 to support educational and cultural efforts of tribal entities that have been either state or federally recognized.
(d) The commission shall meet at least three times a year and at any other times at the request of the chair. The agency of commerce and community development and the department of education shall provide administrative support to the commission.
(e) The commission may seek and receive funding from federal and other sources to assist with its work.
§ 853. RECOGNITION OF ABENAKI PEOPLE
(a) The state of Vermont recognizes the Abenaki people and recognizes all Native American people who reside in Vermont as a minority population.
(b) Recognition of the Native American or Abenaki people provided in subsection (a) of this section shall be for the sole purposes specified in subsection 852(c) of this title and shall not be interpreted to provide any Native American or Abenaki person with any other special rights or privileges that the state does not confer on or grant to other state residents.
(c) This chapter shall not be construed to recognize, create, extend, or form the basis of any right or claim to land or real estate in Vermont for the Abenaki people or any Abenaki individual and shall be construed to confer only those rights specifically described in this chapter.
Sec. 2. EFFECTIVE DATE; APPOINTMENTS TO COMMISSION
(a) This act shall take effect on passage.
(b) The governor shall make appointments to the commission no later than 90 days after the effective date of this act.
Approved: May 3, 2006
Senate Committee oil General Affairs House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs Governor's Advisory Commission on Native American Affair's
John S. Hall, Commissioner
Department of Housing and Community Affairs
DATE: February 18, 2003
RE: Unmarked Burial Site Fund Report
The Commissioner of the Department of Housing and Community Affairs (DHCA) is issuing this report oil the Unmarred Burial Site Fund to the Senate Committee on General Affairs, the House Committee oil General, Housing and Military Affairs, and the Governor's Advisory Commission oil Native American Affairs pursuant to Section 58, Act No. 149 (2002 Adj. Session). The statute required a report on the following:
1.) The fund balance, including the sources of deposits
A Capital Bill line item of $50,000 was appropriated to the Fund for use in FY2003. The current fund balance is $15,000.
2.) Disbursements that have been made from the fund, the municipality for which the disbursement was made, and a description of the process used or implemented by the municipality to protect unmarked burial sites or property owners, or by both.
The Department of Housing and Community Affairs disbursed $35,000 from the fund to the Vermont Land Trust for use as part of the cost of acquisition cost of the Auger Property Oil Monument Road in Highgate. The Commissioner at that time, Gregory Brown, determined that the town of Highgate met the requirements for the use of the funds within its boundaries. The Auger property is surrounded on three sides (the fourth being the Missisquoi River) by property acquired by the State of Vermont over a period of several years to protect known or assumed Native American burial sites. In the professional opinion of Division for Historic Preservation archaeologists and other professional archaeologists, there is no doubt that there are similar unmarked burial sites on the Auger property. In the interest of protecting such burial sites and preserving and improving relations between Native Americans and property owners along Monument Road, the Vermont Land Trust negotiated the purchase of the property from Wilfred Auger's estate upon his depth in 2002. DHCA granted the $35,000 to the Vermont Land Trust. for this purpose. A copy of the grant agreement is attached to this report.
3.) Management processes implemented by municipalities that are designed to protect unmarked burial sites, preserve Native American human remains and protect the rights of owners of property on which unmarked burial sites evict or are suspected to
Natural Resources Conservation Service
617 Comstock Road, Suite 1
Berlin, VT 05602-8498
March 20, 2008
Chief April St. Francis-Merrill
Abenaki Nation Tribal Council
Swanton, Vermont 05488
Re: FY07 and FY08 NRCS Conservation Projects Planned in Franklin County.
Dear Chief April:
Enclosed are Practice Description Forms for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) projects planned in Franklin County. I send these projects for your review to comply with Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as amended, but more importantly I submit these practices to you in a spirit of cooperation to endure that any burial sites or other heritage resources important to the St. Francis-Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi will be considered during planning. Please let me know if there are any traditional cultural properties, sacred sites or other important resources located within or near the area of potential effect that concerns you or other community members.
If you would like to discuss these projects or other cultural resources issues please call me at 828-4493 ext. 102 and my cell is 802-233-0526. The NRCS and I look forward to continue working closely with you and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi to help protect your valuable and irreplaceable cultural heritage.