Vt. law gives Indian tribe hope for recognition

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) – Members of Vermont Indian tribes have renewed hope for state recognition, which some have been seeking for decades and the Abenaki tribe needs to sell its signature baskets and other crafts as Indian-made.
A new state law creates a process for a Vermont commission to recommend tribal recognition, which the Abenaki hope will also allow them to seek federal funding for education and other benefits.
“It’s not just for us. It’s for kids, it’s for our grandkids,” said Dawn Macie, 51, of Rutland, a member of the Nulhegan band of the Abenaki.
Gov. Jim Douglas appointed Macie, who makes Abenaki drums, jewelry and bags, to the revamped commission, which will meet for the first time next month.
Under federal law, artisans must be members of state- or federally recognized tribes – or be certified as nonmember Indian artisans by a tribe – to sell their wares as Indian-made.
Such labeling of crafts would allow the tribe to “really sell them for what they’re worth,” Macie said.
Drums that sell for $90 to $130 could go for up to $200, she said. Handmade, intricately woven grass and splint ash baskets range from $20 to more than $1,000.
At least 1,700 Vermonters say they are direct descendants of the Western Abenaki tribes inhabited all Vermont and New Hampshire, and parts of Maine, Quebec and New York for hundreds of years before the arrival of the Europeans. They include the Missisquoi and Cowasuck Abenaki who farmed the river floodplains of Vermont at least as long ago as 1100s AD, the law said.
But the state of Vermont has been reluctant to recognize the Abenaki, in the past fearing it could bolster one tribe’s bid to win federal recognition, which opponents said could lead to land claims and gambling casinos. (There are no federally recognized tribes in Vermont.)

full article – http://nativetimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=4259:vt-law-gives-indian-tribe-hope-for-recognition&catid=49&Itemid=25


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