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Vermont Commission ‘On the Road Again’… to Randolph

February 9, 2011

Native American Affairs Commission ‘On the Road Again’

The Commission Will Convene a Public Forum in Randolph Center on
February 15, 2011

MONTPELIER, Vt. – The group established through legislation to oversee the process for State Recognition of Native American Indian tribes in Vermont is hosting a series of public forums around the state.

The Native American Affairs Commission is organizing the meetings to hear concerns and questions from the public about the role of the commission and the process of state recognition. The next meeting, which includes a potluck meal, will be at the Red School House in Randolph Center, Exit 4 off Hwy I89 to VT 66, at noon on February 15, 2011.

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

To date, the commission has approved the recommendations of three tribes. Two of those, the Nulhegan Band in the Northeast Kingdom and the Elnu Tribe in southeastern Vermont, are now being considered by the Legislature. The third, the Koasek of the Koas in Newbury, will be passed along to legislative committees soon. A fourth tribe, the Missisquoi Band in northwestern Vermont, has submitted an application to the commission that is currently being reviewed.

State recognition will allow members of recognized tribes to market crafts as “Native American Made.” Recognition will also open up educational opportunities for school districts and broaden the availability of scholarships for Native students.

“Our accomplishment will be, knowing that Abenakis, many of whom have waited and hoped for over three decades, will finally be acknowledged by the state of which they are a part,” Willard said.

The recognition process is but one aspect of the commission’s focus. The commission looks forward to working with Native American communities on issues such as cultural awareness and revitalization, education, and economic development. “Addressing these issues will benefit all Vermonters, Native or not,” added Willard. “This is why we’re traveling around the state. We want to know how we can best serve your community.”

To learn more about the process of Native American Tribes seeking state recognition, please visit the VCNAA website at http://vcnaa.vermont.gov

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