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Rep. Tom Stevens Speaks on Abenaki Recognition

February 24, 2011

Legislative Notes From Tom

By: Rep. Tom Stevens

Note: We have only posted the portion of Rep. Tom Stevens’ article that pertains to Abenaki Recognition

Rep. Tom Stevens

Native American Recognition
My committee took testimony and the House passed the first two applications for state recognition by two Native American tribes (or family bands). House General spent quite a bit of time last year developing criteria that would lead to a process for this to happen. Since last May, a new Vermont Commission of Native American Affairs has been formed and they received three applications. The applications were reviewed by a panel of scholars and the recommendation to recognize was sent from the Commission to the Legislature in January.

The process we set up allowed recognition to move forward with a minimum of direct involvement by our government. This was important, both to us and the Native American population, due to our notorious history in our treatment of them. This process was less onerous than federal recognition, and does not come with the rights to claim land or build casinos. Recognition is important for obvious cultural reasons, and the practical reason centered around the desire of our Native Americans to sell their arts and crafts legally.

Our recognition allows these tribes to apply to the Federal government for permission to sell their arts and crafts as authentic Abenaki work.

We are proud of our work in trying to sift through this difficult issue. It is clear that our government hasn’t been kind to the Native American population, and this represents an important step in our history. From this we hope a tradition of peace and respect can grow.



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