Fix seen for glitch in Abenaki recognition law

Montpelier, Vermont (AP) 10-07

Vermont lawmakers are expected to be asked this winter to fix a 2006 law that tried but failed to allow Vermont’s Abenaki Indians to sell their work as Indian-made.

The 2006 law recognized the Abenaki as a minority population in the state, but it didn’t set up a way for individual bands of Abenaki to gain recognition. That meant that under federal law, the Indians still were short of a key goal of recognition: allowing them to sell their crafts as Indian-made.

Under a change expected to be considered in the upcoming legislative session, bands of Abenaki could apply to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs for recognition, which would then pass its recommendation on to the Legislature.

“I think it will solve the problem,” said Jeanne Brink of Barre, an Abenaki basketmaker and member of the state commission.

Mark Mitchell of Barnet, the commission’s chairman, said the panel will hold a public hearing on the proposal Oct. 25, and hopes to pass its recommendation on to the Legislature in January.

Assistant Attorney General Mike McShane said the goals of the new law would be the same as the 2006 version: helping Vermont’s Abenaki secure scholarships and other benefits and allowing them to sell their wares as Indian-made.

Information from: The Burlington Free Press,