Senate Approves Abenaki Recognition
Thursday, 03/18/10 7:34am
Bob Kinzel - Montpelier, VT
(Host) The Vermont Senate has unanimously approved legislation that's designed to expand state
recognition to various Bands of the Abenaki Indian tribe.
Supporters of the bill say it will allow the Bands to take full advantage of a variety of federal
VPR's Bob Kinzel reports.
(Kinzel) In 2006, the Legislature gave its approval to a bill that granted state recognition to
Abenaki Indians living in Vermont.
State recognition opened the door for a number of federal programs including; social services,
employment opportunities, health care services and education scholarships.
It also authorized the Abenaki to legally label their arts and crafts as Native American products.
Chittenden senator Hinda Miller is the lead sponsor of the bill and a member of the Senate
Economic Development committee.
She told her colleagues that the new bill is needed because the law passed back in 2006 didn't
comply with all the regulations at the Federal Bureau of Indian Affairs: (Miller) "What we found from
that bill was that it failed to comport with the recognition requirements for the Indian arts and crafts
Board of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. In other words, this recognition bill is solely for the
recognition of arts and crafts."
(Kinzel) Miller says the legislation also makes it very clear that this new level of state recognition
can not be used by the Abenaki in their effort to win federal recognition:
(Miller) "Federal recognition brings up images of casinos and land grabs and all other kinds of
things. Let me assure you that that will not happen. And if you care to read the findings, we
thought it was important enough to put in here that 15 other states recognize their resident native
people as American Indian tribes without any of those tribes previously or subsequently acquiring
(Kinzel) Miller says the bill confers official state recognition on four Bands of the Abenaki tribe and
it allows other Bands to petition for state recognition in the future.
It also expands the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs so that each Band will have
representation on the panel.
For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.