Head of Vt Native American Commission addresses FaceBook
February 5, 2010
This week’s creation and use of a Facebook page purporting to represent the Native American
Affairs Commission was in no way authorized by the VCNAA. At my direction, it has been removed
and appropriate steps are being made to assure that this sort of identity theft and
misrepresentation of the Commission and its work will not happen again.
Not only was the site bogus in itself, but also state governmental bodies such as the Commission
are not allowed to use social networking sites as official publications and means for interaction with
the public. A Member of such an organization is within their rights to publish in any Internet medium
they choose and address the same issues as the government body, but they can in no way
represent themselves as even being a Member of, for example, the VCNAA.
As is evident from this Facebook debacle, the personal bias of even someone who believes that
they are acting in the best interests of their governmental organization can result in glaring
omissions and inaccurate depictions of a group’s actions and positions. Such behavior seriously
damages the ability of the actual VCNAA to clearly communicate with the public and further erodes
our chances to work harmoniously with our constituents.
It is not the policy of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs to vent personal attacks in
public forums, or for Members to work against the positions and good of the Commission. My duty
as Chair of the Commission is to do all I can to provide appropriate venues for facts to be
presented, either in a VCNAA meeting or on behalf of the Commission at the Legislature or
I have been assured that this profound mistake was made with the best intentions and without any
understanding of its ramifications. The responsible party has apologized for problems caused by
their actions and has decided to step back from Commission work for the time being. I hope that the
coming weeks and months will see a healing not only of the rift caused by this erroneous Facebook
page, but also a meeting of the minds on how to move forward with Indian recognition in Vermont.
Some of you are aware that the Native American Affairs Commission voted at its January 28
meeting to take a stand against the S.222 Abenaki Recognition bill and others like it. While I must
trust that my fellow Commissioners will bring evidence to bear to support their position.
Finally, I want to thank those who alerted me to this grave situation. It is impossible for me to keep
up with every email or Website related to Vermont indigenous people, or even the Commission. By
speaking directly to me, you have provided an important service for us all.
Oliwni (thank you),
Chair, Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs