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VT Indian Commission Recommends First Two Tribes for State Recognition

January 16, 2011



Vermont Indian Commission Recommends First Two Tribes for State Recognition

January 12, 2011


MONTPELIER, VT – The Commission that conducts the assessments of Native American tribes in Vermont has made its first two recommendations after receiving three applications in November of 2010 for State Recognition. The decision to recommend the Nulhegan Abenaki of the Northeast Kingdom and the Elnu Abenaki in the southeast is now being passed along to Vermont’s General Assembly for final review.


Tribes are required to meet a series of criteria outlined in a Senate Bill (S.222) that was signed into law in the spring of 2010. The new law created a process by which tribes may present applications to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs for review. The current assessments incorporated the findings of expert review panelists and public testimony at hearings in December. Based upon this assessment, the Commission found that the Nulhegan and Elnu tribes successfully met the nine criteria.


Luke Willard, chairman of the Indian Commission, said, “We’re very happy to see this new process working. The questions and concerns that stalled state recognition for Vermont’s tribes in the past are now being addressed.” Referring mostly to the question of genealogical documentation, Willard continued, “It’s one of the criteria, and two tribes have complied to date. I have no doubt there will be more.”


The Commission has one application that is still pending further review and they expect to receive an application from the St. Francis/Sokoki Band at their January 19th meeting.


“We are very pleased with the work of the Commission and look forward to their recommendations.  We appreciate their careful deliberations according to legislation passed last year outlining a process for tribal recognition” said Senator Hinda Miller.


“Helping all the Abenaki is helping us all in making Vermont a better state. I am glad that I had the privilege to be part of this process” said Representative Michel Consejo.


On January 19th at 11am, members of the Commission and Senator Vince Illuzzi, along with legislative sponsors, supporters, and leaders of the two tribes, will gather in Montpelier in the Cedar Creek Room at the Statehouse to hold a press conference to discuss the results of the Commission’s decisions. Following the press conference, at 1:00 pm, the Commission will also hold its monthly meeting in Room 10 at the Statehouse.


Willard added, “We hope that the fairness and promptness of the process will encourage other Native communities to step forward. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, ‘No Abenaki left behind’.”

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