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BILL AS PASSED BY SENATE 2007-2008

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S.369

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.  DEFINITIONS

For the purposes of this act:

(1)  “Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation” means the band of Abenaki people now or formerly led by Chief Brian Chenevert and Chief Nancy Millette.

(2)  “Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki Nation” means the band of Abenaki people now or formerly led by Chief Luke Willard.

(3)  “Sovereign Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi St. Francis/Sokoki Band” means the band of Abenaki people now or formerly led by Chief April St. Francis.

Sec. 2.  1 V.S.A. § 852(b) is amended to read:

(b)  The commission shall comprise seven members appointed by the governor for two-year staggered three-year terms from a list of candidates compiled by the division for historic preservation. The governor shall appoint a chair from among the members of the commission.  The division shall compile a list of candidates’ recommendations from the following  The commission shall be organized in accordance with the following provisions:

(1)  Recommendations from the Missisquoi Abenaki and other Abenaki and other Native American regional tribal councils and communities in Vermont.  Applicants The commission shall comprise a broad representation of Native American tribes and bands.

(2)  The commission shall comprise the following members:

(A)  Beginning August 3, 2008 one member each from the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation, the Sovereign Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi St. Francis/Sokoki Band, and the Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki Nation, appointed by the governor from a list of three candidates put forth by each band.

(B)  Four members who do not belong to the three groups recognized in subdivision (A) of this subsection appointed from a list of applicants who apply in response to solicitations, publications, and website notification by the division of historical preservation.  Beginning August 3, 2008 two such members shall be appointed for two-year terms and two such members shall be appointed for one-year terms; upon the expiration of which, subsequent appointments shall be for three years in accordance with this subsection.

(3)  The governor shall appoint a chair from among the members of the commission.

(4)  No member shall serve more than two consecutive terms.

(5)  All members of the commission shall be Vermont citizens.

(6)  The commission shall not comprise more than one member from any Native American tribe or band.

Sec. 3.  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. 4  1 V.S.A. § 853 is amended to read:

§ 853.  recognition of abenaki people

(a)  The state of Vermont recognizes the Abenaki people nation and recognizes all Native American people who reside in Vermont as a minority population.

(b)  The state of Vermont recognizes the Koasek Traditional Band of the Sovereign Abenaki Nation (led by Chief Brian Chenevert and Chief Nancy Millette), the Sovereign Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi St. Francis/Sokoki Band (led by Chief April St. Francis), and the Nulhegan Band of the Abenaki Nation (led by Chief Luke Willard) 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.

(c)(d)  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. 5.  CONDITIONAL RECOGNITION

(a)  The recognition of each band identified in subsection 853(b) of Title 1 is conditioned on each band submitting, no later than March 1, 2010, information to the commission as required by subsection 854(f) of Title 1.

(b)  Within six months of receiving an application pursuant to subsection (a) the commission shall review the application materials submitted pursuant to subsection (a) of this section and, if necessary, request supplemental or clarifying information from each band.

(c)  An applicant shall receive a minimum of two months to supplement, clarify, or amend its application in response to any request for additional information or clarification made by the commission pursuant to subsection (b).

(d)  Within eight months of receiving an application for recognition pursuant to subsection (a) or two months of receiving supplemental or clarifying information pursuant to subsection (b), if such is requested, 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 division for historic preservation of the department of housing and general affairs shall provide administrative support to the Vermont commission on Native American affairs in carrying out the requirements of Sec. 4 of this act.

(g)  The commission shall be entitled to receive per diem compensation and actual and necessary expenses in accordance with section 1010 of Title 32 for work performed under Sec. 4 of this act.

Sec. 6.  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 or the Vermont commission on Native American affairs.

(5)  “State” means the state of Vermont.

(b)  Process for state recognition of Abenaki tribes or bands in the state of Vermont.  The commission may 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. Recognition shall be granted if a two-thirds majority of the commission members eligible to vote determine that an applicant meets the criteria set forth in this section.  A commission member who is also a member of an applicant group or who has an economic or other conflict of interest 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)  The division for historic preservation of the department of housing and community affairs shall provide administrative support to the Vermont commission on Native American affairs in carrying out the requirements of this section 854.

(e)  The commission shall be entitled to receive per diem compensation and actual and necessary expenses in accordance with section 1010 of Title 32 for work performed under this section.

(f)  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.

(g)  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.

(h)  Criteria for recognition as a tribe or band.

(1)  An application for state recognition shall include a signed statement from the applicant’s leaders affirming that the information provided is true and accurate.  Any individual seeking recognition on behalf of a tribe or band shall be a citizen of Vermont.  The application must demonstrate the following to the satisfaction of the commission:

(A)  That the applicant’s members are related to each other by blood and kinship or trace their ancestry to a kinship group;

(B)  That the applicant group has maintained a connection with Abenaki tribes or bands that have historically inhabited Vermont; and

(C)  That the applicant group has historically maintained influence and authority over its members.

(2)  The applicant may provide the following information, along with any other information the applicant deems relevant to meeting the recognition criteria, for consideration by the commission:

(A)  Written history that documents a 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 a 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)  Documentation of the structure, membership criteria, and methods through which the applicant conducts its affairs.

(3)  The commission shall consider all of the information submitted by the applicant and 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.

(4)  Incorporation as a for-profit or nonprofit organization does not in and of itself satisfy the recognition criteria set forth in this act.

(i)  Material misrepresentation.  The recognition of any tribe or band may be revoked or an application for recognition rejected if the commission finds that an application submitted under this section contains any material misrepresentation.

(j)  Rulemaking authority.  The commission may adopt rules to implement the provisions of this chapter.

Sec. 7.  SUNSET

Sec. 4 of this act (conditional recognition) shall be repealed on January 15, 2012.

Sec. 8.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us