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Vermont Indian Commission Agenda and comments from Chairman, Luke Willard

October 14, 2011

VCNAA Agenda 10-18-2011

Comments from Luke Willard, Chairman of the Commission…

“At this month’s meeting at the National Life Building in Montpelier, we will be discussing and answering the question, ‘Is there any type of recognition for people who identify themselves as Abenaki but are not enrolled with a tribe because they choose not to?’  This question has come up twice during our visits to communities throughout the state.  I’m fairly certain that the law is clear on this matter but it deserves to be discussed publicly.

Last month, we agreed to create committees that will help us to expedite our work more efficiently.  We all have strengths and weaknesses.  This will allow each member to utilize their own strengths and experience.  I will be proposing that we create three committees… Social Services, Government Policy, and Cultural Resources.

The next item we will be discussing is the state’s process of notifying tribal governments when indigenous archeological sites are discovered.  Perhaps more specifically, we will identify the state’s current process and work with the Division for Historic Preservation to create a policy that is respectful to Vermont’s tribes.  I believe this topic has the potential to evolve into questions such as “Who owns history?… and why?”

Next up, we will continue our on-going discussion of American Indian Heritage Month and Abenaki Heritage Week.  November is only a couple weeks away.  We will certainly request that Governor Shumlin renew last year’s proclamation affirming November as Native American Heritage Month in Vermont.  Regarding Abenaki Heritage Week in May, Charlene has taken a lead in this and we are seeking input from those who were involved  in the planning of this statewide event years ago.

Lastly, we will discuss how the Commission can help promote existing language programs and how we can organize language programs that are more accessible to Vermont’s Abenaki communities and population centers.  Many want to learn the language but cannot afford to travel outside their own communities.

The meeting is open to the public of course.”

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