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ELNU Abenaki
Vermont Indian Commission Convenes Public Forum
Native American Panel To Hold Meetings Around Vermont
November 8, 2010

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The group that will establish a process for state recognition of Native American
tribes in Vermont is holding a series of public forums around the state.

The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs will hold the first meeting at the Goodrich
Memorial Library on Main Street in Newport on Tuesday, November 16 according to Giovanna
Peebles, State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the Vermont Division for Historic
Preservation.

Although the commission’s monthly meeting starts at 1:00 p.m., they have chosen to devote the
noon hour to a less formal potluck to hear the needs and concerns of local Native people and
answer questions, according to Chairman Luke Willard of Brownington.

“Different communities have different needs and interests,” Willard said. “We want to know what
they are.”

The new commission, appointed by Governor Jim Douglas in September, is charged with executing
a process for recognizing Native American Indian tribes in Vermont as called for in a Senate bill
passed earlier this year.

That legislation was introduced by the Senate Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs
chaired by Senator Vince Illuzzi, who began working in the 1980s to obtain recognition for Native
Americans in Vermont.

“I congratulate the new members of the reconstituted commission and welcome them to Newport, an
area with a relatively large number of residents of Native American descent,” Illuzzi said. “I hope that
the commission will help Native Americans around Vermont continue to document their heritage and
rebuild their cultures and traditions.”

Willard said that he hopes educators will attend this meeting to learn about Title VII Indian
Education, a federal program that could bring thousands of dollars into the school systems of
Orleans County, and that this commission intends to focus on education and cultural awareness.

“I think they go hand in hand,” he said. “There are many Abenaki students in the schools of Orleans
County but I think most are afraid to embrace and, in many cases, admit their own heritage because
it could bring teasing from other students who are only taught a small piece of Abenaki history, and
literally nothing about the contemporary Abenakis who sit at the desk right beside them.”

“This was a problem when I was a student and now I hear about it from my own children,” said
Willard, a member of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe in Orleans County.

November is National American Indian Heritage Month and Governor Douglas recently proclaimed
the month of November as Native American Heritage Month in Vermont.  The signing of this
proclamation is the kickoff of events held around the state to honor the contributions and heritage
of Native Americans.

To learn more, please visit the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation website at www.
historicvermont.org or the VCNAA website at http://vcnaa.vermont.gov/

Contacts:
State: David Mace (802) 828-5229

Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs: Luke Willard, Chairman
(802) 754-2216 or firstnationslw@yahoo.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots,
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