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Obama Fast-tracks Dirty Pipeline… Sierra Club Speaks Out Against

March 21, 2012

***Note from Nulheganaki blog owner:  The Nulhegan Abenaki tribe stands in solidarity with the Sierra Club on this issue.  Megacorporations and the elite continue to gain wealth as they destroy our land and poison our environment.  We rebuke their actions and we look forward to a day when megacorps and greedy elite are a distant memory.

March 21, 2012


Cushing, Okla. — Today the Obama Administration announced that the President will be issuing an executive order to fast track the permitting of the Cushing-Port Arthur pipeline.

In response, Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club, issued the following statement:

“The Sierra Club is deeply disappointed that the President is fast tracking the Cushing-Port Arthur pipeline.  This wrongheaded decision will do nothing to lower gas prices and only helps the richest oil companies get richer.  While this may have been a political calculation for the administration, it puts American families at risk and only serves to deepen our dependence on oil.  Pipelines leak, and tar sands pipelines are dirtier and more dangerous – this decision will affect real people and real families who have a right to keep their property, air and water clean and safe.

“The President has vowed to double down on clean energy and we look forward to seeing those plans.  We can’t afford to hit snooze again on our nation’s dangerous addiction to oil, and until the President and Congress make good on promises of clean energy, we are doomed to find ourselves in this mess over and over again.

“The Sierra Club is committed to fighting dirty tar sands and we stand with the families of Oklahoma and Texas and all Americans who care about keeping their air, water and land safe from polluters.”


Support Tribal Forests on Town Meeting Day!

February 28, 2012

Support NEK Community Forests On Town Meeting Day!

by: Dave Van Deusen

Tue Feb 28, 2012 at 15:03:11 PM EST

Northeast Kingdom Member/Supporter of the Vermont Sierra Club,

Town Meeting is nearly upon us.  Therefore we would like to ask you to help us spread the word about the Our Forests Our Future campaign.  Can you put out community forest pamphlets at your Town Meeting?  If so, please immediately email me, David Van Deusen, at:

The Our Forest Our Future campaign is seeking to create a mosaic of new town and Abenaki forests in Vermont as a means to help build wildlife migration corridors and to make our forests more resilient in the face of climate change. Our Forests Our Future contends that community forests not only help in the fight against climate change through carbon sequestration, but can also serve the social and economic needs of local people by providing firewood to the poor, local revenue to the community, and jobs to local loggers through sustainable forestry. This is the Vermont Way!

Over the last year and a half we have made tremendous progress on the Our Forests Our Future campaign.  Together we have made a strong case in favor of establishing new locally owned, conservation oriented, community forests throughout the Kingdom and beyond.  Thus far we have:

*Built a large coalition of Native American Tribes (especially with the NEK Nulhegan Abenaki), organized labor, farmers, and fellow environmentalists.

*Presented a petition to the Governor with well over 1,000 signatures in support of new town forests (and in turn the Governor is proposing a 1.2 million dollar annual increase to the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund).

*Helped to build the largest environmental rally in the history of Vermont (the Sept. 24th Moving Planet in Montpelier), where Our Forests Our Future took center stage.

*Had Our Forest Our Future op-eds and LTE’s printed in newspapers all around the state.

*And now WE NEED YOU to carry our momentum forward by spreading the word in your community on Town Meeting Day!

Please help the Vermont Sierra Club and the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe advance the goals of Our Forests Our Future by agreeing to place campaign pamphlets in your Town Hall on March 6th.  After you email me to say you are willing to help, I will get these in the mail to you immediately so that you can have them in time.

As always, thank you for your support. With your direct participation, we will win!

David Van Deusen, Conservation Organizer, Vermont Sierra Club

2 More Abenaki Tribes Near State Recognition

February 28, 2012

Abenaki tribes near state recognition

by Erin Hale  | February 27, 2012

www.AbenakiTribe.comTwo bands of the Abenaki Nation are nearing state recognition as Native American Indian tribes after a decades-long struggle.

The tribes have met the criteria for recognition of a Native American tribe required by the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, which was established by Vermont law in 2010 and recommends tribes for recognition.

Tribes must provide evidence to meet nine criteria established by the commission including that the majority of members reside in a specific geographic location within the state’s borders and that a substantial number are related through kinship; that they have a well-documented historical connection with Vermont through archaeological, historical or ethnographic evidence; and that they cannot be recognized by another state or province.

Tribes submit their applications to the commission, then a three-member expert panel of scholars and professionals review them, and if all criteria are met, the commission recommends recognition. The Legislature can speed up official recognition by approving legislation recognizing a tribe, but if it takes no action, the recognition automatically becomes official two years after commission recommendation.

Two bands — the Elnu Abenaki in Windham County and the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation in northeastern Vermont — gained state recognition last year. A bill in 2006 formally recognized the Abenaki as Native Americans, though it did not entitle them to any rights.

State recognition will open the door to educational and financial resources for the bands, such as federal Indian education funding for schools with Abenaki students, scholarships, and grants for economic development and cultural revitalization, according to Luke Willard, the commission’s chair.

On Feb. 14, two bands — the St. Francis-Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi in northwestern Vermont and the Koasek Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation from the Connecticut River Valley near Newbury — made their cases before a joint hearing of the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs and the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs.

St. Francis-Sokoki band Chief John Churchill testified that state recognition will bring cultural pride to his band.

“Pride is a big thing. Whatever nationality one says you are, you don’t have to prove it. If you say you’re Abenaki or Native American, for some reason you have to prove it,” he said.

Roger Longtoe Sheehan, chief of Elnu Abenaki, testified on the positive cultural impact of recognition, particularly in his band’s  relationship with other nations.

“It’s a pride thing so you can walk into a pow-wow and go to any sort of site that would be tied to the culture and be able to say, ‘We’re Abenaki,’” Sheehan said, later adding. “Unless you get state recognition, they basically won’t talk to you.”

Since recognition, the Elnu Abenaki have been invited to an annual canoe trip down the West Coast by regional bands. A similar though smaller event has been organized locally on the Connecticut River and New England coastline.

The St. Francis-Sokoki Band, whose 2,400 members span four counties in northwestern Vermont, has been working towards federal recognition since the early 1970s. However, a major obstacle for both the St. Francis-Sokoki and the Koasek has been finding documents supporting their cases to meet recognition criteria that a majority of members have continuously resided in a historical area.

Peter Thomas, the retired director of the University of Vermont’s archaeology program, questioned the logic of applying contemporary borders to an area that has been occupied by Native Americans for 11,000 years and the Abenaki since at least the 1600s.

“In terms of the majority of members residing in a specific geographic location in Vermont, I have never considered modern political boundaries as having any relevance to a community’s territory,” Thomas said.

All of the commission’s expert witnesses, each with a background in archaeology or history, spoke of the additional obstacle of finding records from the early Colonial era to modern times.

Because Abenaki territory spanned the borders of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Canada, there was often confusion as to which geographic area Native Americans officially resided in. This has been a particular issue for the Koasek band, which has traditionally lived along the Connecticut River in what is now Newbury, Vt., and Haverhill, N.H. As part of the application process, the band had to show that the majority of its members – eventually found to be 58 percent – lived within Vermont.

Two major archaeological sites in Swanton have helped the cause of the St. Francis-Sokoki: a burial site dating back 2,200-2,800 years discovered in 1973 and a second burial site found in 2000 that contained the remains of 27 Abenaki, and artifacts from the 17th through 19th centuries.

Proving kinship ties and genealogy has been another challenge for the tribes. Though Jesuit missions recorded their contact with Abenaki, in the 18th and 19th centuries individuals from Native American or mixed background were often listed as “pagan” or “colored” in census data, not necessarily “Indian.” Vermont’s eugenics movement in the 1920s and 1930s further damaged record keeping.

“We’re not dealing with absolutes here. In my own family, there are 14 versions of the spelling of people’s names. English names. If you go a while back to the French, and the Abenaki, and the whole rest, the data is not clear-cut,” Thomas said.

Eloise Beil, an expert review panelist from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, made a similar point in her testimony that a lack of physical records was not uncommon for Native Americans.

“That’s the challenge of dealing with folk society, people who operate outside of power structures,” she said. “They operate based on oral traditions.”

However, for both the St. Francis-Sokoki and the Koasek, family documents from band members that had previously not been shared helped to piece together genealogy lines.

The St. Francis-Sokoki were rejected for federal status in the 1990s, a point which was questioned by committee members. However, Willard and Fred Wiseman, the chair of humanities at Johnson State College, were quick to defend the band in their testimony from what they saw as a lobbying game.

“It seems to take between $5 million and $12 dollars of funding and often times the operation of casinos prior to providing the information necessary to get the political clout in Washington to be able to get recognition,” Wiseman said.

Willard said the expensive process federal recognition was one of the reasons behind the creation of the Vermont commission.

“I can tell you that what my goal has been since I started with the commission was to nullify federal recognition,” Willard said. “Why do we need federal recognition if we have a state government that is willing to work with the tribes and is willing to enact state policy and legislation that will successfully meet the needs and empower the native people of the state? I just don’t see the sense in spending millions of dollars just so you can get a thumbs-up from people who are hundreds and hundreds of miles away.”

Willard was careful to note that the resources available to recognized bands should not be confused with “entitlements.”

“I prefer the term ‘rights.’ Try to look at it this way: If you are a recognized citizen of the United States, you have certain rights and resources available to you. If you are a recognized citizen of Canada, you have certain rights and resources available to you.  Likewise, if you are a recognized citizen of a Native American Indian tribe, you have certain rights and resources available to you,” Willard said in an email.

Willard said he expects the Legislature and the governor to approve the bills this session. The Koasek Traditional Band of the Abenaki Nation, headquarted in the Thetford area, is likely the only remaining Abenaki tribe in Vermont that will seek recognition, Willard said.

Original story:

Vermonters Pack Statehouse for Town & Tribal Forests and Affordable Housing

February 23, 2012
**Note from Nulheganaki:  Not mentioned in this article is the specific partnership between the Northeast Kingdom’s Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe and the Vermont Sierra Club.  These partnerships shouldn’t be taken for granted.**

One Hundred and Fifty Vermonters Pack Statehouse/

Call For Affordable Housing & Land Conservation

By The Vermont Sierra Club


Montpelier, Vermont, February 23rd, 2011- An effort by conservation and affordable housing advocates to demonstrate an outpouring of public support for the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund met with great success.  On Thursday morning more than 150 Vermonters packed room 11 of the Statehouse to voice their support for this program, and to hear from the Governor and other elected officials on this issue.  The event was organized by the Vermont Housing and Conservation Coalition and was supported by the Vermont Sierra Club and its partners in the Our Forests Our Future campaign.


The Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund, which was established in the late 1980s, provides resources for the construction of low income housing and for forest and farm conservation.  In response to Hurricane Irene Governor Peter Shumlin has suggested that a portion of these resources to be used to buy damaged homes located within floodplains, and to convert these parcels back into a more natural state. Presently, the Governor is calling for a 1.2 million dollar increase to this fund.  If the Governor’s recommendation is accepted by the General Assembly, the fund would see a total of $14,000,000 for the coming year.


The Vermont Sierra Club, which is supporting the Governor’s efforts, mobilized for this event with solidarity from 350 Vermont and the Vermont Workers Center as part of the Our Forests Our Future campaign.  All three organizations had members at this event.  The Our Forest Our Future campaign is seeking to create a mosaic of new town and Abenaki forests in Vermont as a means to help build wildlife migration corridors and to make our forests more resilient in the face of climate change.  Our Forests Our Future, which is also endorsed by the Vermont AFL-CIO and the two state recognized Abenaki tribes, contends that community forests not only help in the fight against climate change through carbon sequestration, but can also serve the social and economic needs of local people.


“We envision new town and Abenaki forests not only providing wildlife with a more robust habitat, but also providing low income and elderly Vermonters with free or affordable firewood to heat their homes, public/tribal revenue for social programs through sustainable logging, and a public place for Vermonters to take deer, moose, and other game to feed their families. The Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund is one of the major places where funding for such projects can be found, and that is why we are supporting this. For us, it is about the environment, about economic development, and Irene recovery,” said David Van Deusen, Conservation Organizer with the Vermont Sierra Club.


At the event, in addition to Governor Shumlin, a number of law makers spoke out in favor of the Vermont Housing and Conservation Fund.  These included LT Governor Phil Scott-R, House Speaker Shap Smith-D, Senate Pro Tem John Campbell-D, and Northeast Kingdom Senator Vince Illuzzi-R.

Northern Pass in Nulhegan Country? Hell No…

February 23, 2012
**NOTE FROM NULHEGANAKI: Above title added by Nulheganaki blog owner.  Nulhegan Abenakis are committed to keeping our homelands pristine and protected from big greedy corporations.  As Abenakis, we do not want the giant “Northern Pass” high-voltage super highway passing through our homeland on either side of the Connecticut River.  As Abenakis, we need to support Senator Illuzzi in his mission to give Vermont the ability to say HELL NO!  Article below from Vermont Tiger.  More to come.**

Sen. Illuzzi and the Utility Merger Case

Senator Vince Illuzzi (Orleans-Essex)

by John McClaughry

Veteran senator Vince Illuzzi, of Essex Orleans, has intervened in the pending Public Service Board sale of Central Vermont Public Service to the  Montreal based Gaz Metropolitaine. Not only would the combined CVPS and Green Mountain Power utilities be under single Canadian ownership, but the new owner would acquire the two Vermont companies’ controlling interest in VELCO, the state’s transmission company.

Illuzzi argues, rightly in my opinion, that VELCO is the big prize here, because the Canadians want to ship a lot of hydro power south to the major US markets in New York and Boston. VELCO essentially owns the transmission corridor.

The Vermont Department of Public Service favors the merger of the two utilities. Illuzzi believes the Department, under the control of Gov. Peter Shumlin, is not a reliable advocate for the interests of Vermonters. Why not? Because Shumlin is very much in bed with Green Mountain Power and was an aggressive advocate of the CVPS acquisition by Gaz Metropolitaine.

Illuzzi wants the Board to appoint an independent counsel in the case that doesn’t owe anything to Peter Shumlin and is beyond the Governor’s control. The Department thinks that’s unnecessary and that it can do that job, which is its statutory duty.

Illuzzi is also intervening at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the matter of control of VELCO.

This is an important matter, and Vince Illuzzi is doing the state a service by joining these issues.

Original article from Vermont Tiger:

Nulhegan Elder, Norm Chenevert Passes

December 27, 2011

Norman L. Chenevert

Norman L. Chenevert, 71, of 15 Golden Heights, passed away Monday, December 26, 2011 in his home.

Norm Chenevert

He leaves his wife of 46 years; Jeannette L. (Tremblay) Chenevert, one son; Brian A. Chenevert and his wife Allison, one daughter; Christine R. wife of Thomas Gilfoy all of Webster, 4 grandsons, 2 grand-daughters, 2 great grandsons, three brothers; James K. Chenevert and John G. Fleming, both of Webster and Vincent E. Chenevert of Southbridge.

Norman was born in Worcester, a son of Leo and Elaine (Benoit) Chenevert and lived here most of his life.
He served in the U.S.Army from 1957 to 1964. Norman worked for the former Tremblay Oil Co. in Webster for many years. He was a member and former Captain of the Webster Police Dept. Auxillary for 32 years, a member of the Webster Ambulance Squad,a Webster Constable, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Dept. Auxillary, the Blue Knights, American Legion Post # 184, St. Louis Church, he also enjoyed collecting stamps and baseball cards,and riding his motorcycle. Norman really enjoyed being with his family.

Calling Hours for Norman will be Wednesday, December 28, 2011 from 6 to 8 PM at the Robert J. Miller Funeral Home and Lake Chapel, 366 School St. Burial will be private in Worcester County Memorial Park in Paxton.

In lieu of flowers, Memorial Contributions may be made to: American Cancer Society , 30 Speen St., Framingham, MA. 01701.

2012 Snow Snake & Maple Gathering

December 12, 2011
Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe


Kwai Kwai!  This year’s Snowsnake Games will be held at Nulhegan’s late-winter “Maple Gathering”.  The Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe (W8banakiak wji’N8hican Odana) invites you to join us in celebrating the age-old Abenaki custom of Maple Sugaring, while at the same time, we will host the 2012 Snowsnake games for Abenakis, Seven Nations, and our friends March 10th, 2012 at Nulheganaki on Whiting Lane in Brownington, VT, beginning at 11:00am.

Join us for a late-winter gathering of Snow Snake games, maple sugaring activities, and the best potluck food in Abenaki country.  All are welcome to join in the festivities or just come along for the socializing, drumming, and singing.  Bring a dish, bring the kids…, and remember to dress appropriately. The Snow Snake track will be easily accessible and well prepared, and we’ll have several snow snakes available if you do not have one.
Snow Snake Nulhegan Abenaki

Snow Snake Game

Snow Snake (Pson’ilakwa)

The competitive, challenging, and fun game of Snow Snake has been part of Native North American culture for hundreds of years.  The game is typically played by four teams, or “Corners,” of men (or boys) and each team is allowed four throws per round.  Team members throw the snake down a trough about 5″ deep, made of snow.  On the thrower’s end, the trough is built up to 32″ in height.  It gradually declines until it is running along the ground.  Whoever makes the longest throw gets two points.  The person with the second longest throw receives one point.

Snowsnake track

Throws have been recorded as traveling more than 1 mile in less than three minutes, and at speeds clocked by Sports Illustrated as reaching 108 miles per hour in the first mile.  The team that gets to the set number of points first – normally 7 or 10 – wins.  There is also another version of the game that uses a pin on a short track.  The team that achieves the set number of points by getting their snakes closest to, without passing the pin, wins.


Nulhegan Abenaki Maple

Boiling Maple Sap into Kettle Syrup

Maple Sugaring (Sokalikaw8kan)

Our Abenaki ancestors were among the first people known to have produced maple syrup and maple sugar.  According to oral traditions and archaeological evidence, maple sap (sokalebial) was being processed into sugar (sen8mozi) long before Europeans arrived in the region.  While there are no detailed accounts of how maple syrup production and consumption began, various stories do exist; one of the most popular involves maple sap being used in place of water (nebi) to prepare ‘boiled venison’ (taliozikan) served to a chief.  Other stories credit the development of maple syrup production to Glooskap.  Our ancestors developed rituals around sugar-making, celebrating the Sugar Moon (sokal’pokwas… the first full moon of spring) with a Maple Dance (sokal’pmegaw8gan).

Nulhegan Abenaki Maple Sugaring

Gathering Sap (P'kwamhikak)

Our ancestors recognized maple sap as a source of energy and nutrition. Boiling Maple Sap into Kettle SyrupAt the beginning of the spring thaw, they used stone tools to make V-shaped cuts in the trunks of maple trees (sen8moziak).  They then inserted reeds or concave pieces of bark to channel the sap into buckets (p’kenn8joak), which were often made from birch bark (maskwa).  The maple sap was concentrated either by dropping hot cooking stones into the buckets or by leaving them exposed to the cold temperatures overnight and disposing of the layer of ice that formed on top.  Later, as other materials were available, our ancestors boiled the sap in kettles.  Today, many of our people use state-of-the-art arch evaporators while others still keep it simple, making dark and delicious kettle syrup.

This will be our largest gathering until our late-summer Nulheganaki Celebration.  Questions, etc may be directed to (802) 754-2216 or
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