Abenaki Indians Renew Fight For Recognition
Newport, Vermont - November 16, 2010
Lawmakers created the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs to identify tribes that may
be recognized by the state.
The nine-member panel began that process Tuesday with a public hearing in Newport. In the past,
Vermont has been reluctant to recognize Abenaki Indians-- concerned it could lead to federal
recognition and casinos and land claims.
Tribal leaders say that's not the case. They simply want to market their crafts as "Indian made" and
need to be recognized to do so. The commission says tribes must meet nine criteria. One concern
Tuesday was privacy.
"A lot of private information has been thrown around about a lot of people in the Abenaki community
here -- not just in Vermont, but in other parts of the country --it's really hurting the people," said
Roger Long-Toe Sheehancet, an Enlu Abenaki.
"Unfortunately, I believe the Abenaki are going to be the first to have their tribal roles smeared on
the Internet for all to see. But I also want to say that we're going to be the first generation to step
up and say we can take it," said Luke Willard of the Vermont Commission on Native American
The commission will hold another public hearing next month in Johnson.