|BILL AS INTRODUCED||2007-2008|
Introduced by Committee on Economic Development, Housing, and General Affairs
Subject: General provisions; Native Americans; Native American affairs commission
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to recognize the Koasek, Missisquoi, and Nulhegan bands of the Abenaki Nation as the original Native American tribes residing in Vermont, grant the Vermont commission on Native American affairs the authority to officially recognize other tribes and bands of Native Americans, and set out procedures and criteria for the commission to follow in evaluating whether to grant such recognition.
AN ACT RELATING TO RECOGNITION OF TRIBES AND BANDS OF NATIVE AMERICANS BY THE VERMONT COMMISSION ON NATIVE AMERICAN AFFAIRS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. 1 V.S.A. § 852(f) is added to read:
(f) The commission shall have the authority to:
(1) On behalf of the state of Vermont, formally recognize tribes and bands of Native Americans.
(2) Establish rules for applications, subject to the criteria set forth in section 854 of this chapter, for state recognition of unrecognized tribes and bands of Native Americans for the sole purposes specified in subsection (c) of this section.
Sec. 2. 1 V.S.A. § 853 is amended to read:
§ 853. recognition of abenaki people
The state of Vermont recognizes the Abenaki
people nation and
recognizes all Native American people who reside in Vermont as a minority
(b) The state of Vermont recognizes the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of the Nation of Missisquoi, and the Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki Nation as original Native American tribes who reside in Vermont.
(c) Recognition of the Native American or Abenaki people as provided in subsection (a) of this section, recognition of bands of the Abenaki Nation as provided in subsection (b) of this section, or recognition of tribes or bands of the Abenaki Nation by the Vermont commission on Native American affairs in accordance with section 854 of this title, shall be for the sole purposes specified in subsection 852(c) of this title and shall not be interpreted to provide any Native American or Abenaki person with any other special rights or privileges that the state does not confer on or grant to other state residents.
Recognition of additional bands and tribes of Abenaki people may be obtained by
act of the general assembly or by the procedure for recognition set forth in section
854 of this chapter.
(e) This chapter shall not be construed to recognize, create, extend, or form the basis of any right or claim to land or real estate in Vermont for the Abenaki people or any Abenaki individual and shall be construed to confer only those rights specifically described in this chapter.
Sec. 3. CONDITIONAL RECOGNITION
(a) The recognition of each band identified in subsection 853(b) of Title 1 is conditioned on each band submitting, by August 1, 2008, information to the commission as required by subsection 854(f) of Title 1.
(b) By October 1, 2008, the attorney general shall review the information submitted by each band and advise the commission if he or she supports or opposes the state recognition. If the attorney general is opposed, he or she shall set forth the reasons therefor.
(c) By November 1, 2008, each band shall have an opportunity to supplement, clarify, or amend any information submitted with its first submission pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.
(d) By January 1, 2009, the commission shall hear oral argument and decide whether state recognition of each of the bands identified in subsection 853(b) of Title 1 shall be revoked.
(e) From the effective date of this act until the commission acts pursuant to the provisions of this section, the bands identified in subsection 853(b) of Title 1 shall be state‑recognized for the purposes of the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990, public law 101-644 (104 stat 4663-64), as amended.
(f) The Vermont human rights commission shall provide administrative support to the Vermont commission on Native American affairs in carrying out the requirements of this section and in adopting administrative rules pursuant to subsection 854(g) of Title 1.
Sec. 4. 1 V.S.A. § 854 is added to read:
§ 854. CRITERIA AND PROCEDURE FOR RECOGNITION OF TRIBES AND BANDS
(a) Definitions. For the purposes of this section:
(1) “Applicant” means an interested party seeking formal state recognition of a tribe or band.
(2) “Commission” means the Vermont commission on Native American affairs.
(3) “Nation,” “tribe,” or “band” means an assembly of Native American/Indian people who are related to each other by blood and kinship, and who trace their ancestry to a kinship group and which has historically maintained influence and authority over its members.
(4) “Recognized” means acknowledged as an Abenaki tribe or band by the Vermont general assembly.
(5) “State” means the state of Vermont.
(b) Process for state recognition of Abenaki tribes or bands in the state of Vermont. The commission shall establish rules pursuant to chapter 25 of
Title 3 for applicants who seek recognition as a tribe or band. Applications shall be reviewed by the commission. If a two-thirds majority of the commission members eligible to vote determine that an applicant meets the criteria set forth in this section for state recognition, the commission shall recommend to the general assembly that it provide state recognition to the applicant. A commission member who is also a member of an applicant group shall be disqualified from hearing and deciding the application for recognition.
(c) Commission proceedings. Once a complete application is received by the commission, it shall provide public notice that the application has been received and shall hold at least one public hearing on the application. All proceedings of the commission on an application shall be public and materials not exempt pursuant to 1 V.S.A § 317 submitted for the commission’s consideration shall be made part of the application record.
(d) Groups ineligible for recognition. Any group or entity, or successors in interests thereof, that has previously applied for and has been denied or refused recognition under this chapter unless the group or entity has new evidence in support of the application that was not reasonably available at the time of the prior application, shall be ineligible to apply for state recognition under this chapter.
(e) Commission assistance to applicants. A group or entity seeking recognition as a tribe or band under this chapter shall request technical assistance from the commission. The commission shall explain the administrative process for applying for recognition. The assistance provided by the commission shall be limited to technical assistance and an explanation of the process.
(f) Criteria for recognition as a tribe or band.
(1) An application for state recognition must demonstrate the following:
(A) That a majority of the applicant’s members currently inhabit a particular geographic location within Vermont;
(B) That the applicant’s members are related to each other by blood and kinship and trace their ancestry to a kinship group;
(C) That the applicant group has maintained a connection with Abenaki tribes or bands that have historically inhabited Vermont; and
(D) That the applicant group has historically maintained influence and authority over its members.
(2) The commission shall determine whether the applicant meets the criteria for state recognition. The commission may consult with an historian or anthropologist, genealogist, or other experts in reviewing and determining applications for recognition. The commission shall consider the following information in determining whether an applicant meets the recognition criteria:
(A) Written history that documents continuous connection with its geographic area and the historical Abenaki homeland.
(B) Letters, statements, oral stories, and documents from band, city, county, state, or federal authorities and other reliable sources that document a history of continuous connection with applicant’s geographic areas.
(C) Documentation of genealogy demonstrating relationships among the kinship groups to which the applicant belongs.
(D) Documented traditions, customs, oral stories, and histories that demonstrate the group’s Abenaki cultural heritage.
(E) Other compelling documentation acceptable to the commission that shows the heritage and kinship relationships of the applicant.
(F) A signed statement from the applicant’s leaders affirming that the information provided is true and accurate.
(G) Documentation of the structure, membership criteria, and methods through which the applicant conducts its affairs.
(3) Incorporation as a for-profit or nonprofit organization does not in and of itself satisfy the recognition criteria set forth in this act.
(g) Rulemaking authority. The commission shall adopt rules to implement the provisions of this chapter.
Sec. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE
This act shall take effect upon passage.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street