The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 1: General Provisions

Chapter 23: NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN PEOPLE

1 V.S.A. § 851. Findings



§ 851. Findings

The general assembly finds that:

(1) At least 1,700 Vermonters claim to be direct descendants of the several indigenous Native American peoples, now known as Western Abenaki tribes, who originally inhabited all of Vermont and New Hampshire, parts of western Maine, parts of southern Quebec, and parts of upstate New York for hundreds of years, beginning long before the arrival of Europeans.

(2) There is ample archaeological evidence that demonstrates that the Missisquoi and Cowasuck Abenaki were indigenous to and farmed the river floodplains of Vermont at least as far back as the 1100s A.D.

(3) The Western Abenaki, including the Missisquoi, have a very definite and carefully maintained oral tradition that consistently references the Champlain valley in western Vermont.

(4) State recognition confers official acknowledgment of the long-standing existence in Vermont of Native American Indians who predated European settlement and enhances dignity and pride in their heritage and community.

(5) Many contemporary Abenaki families continue to produce traditional crafts and intend to continue to pass on these indigenous traditions to the younger generations. In order to create and sell Abenaki crafts that may be labeled as Indian- or Native American-produced, the Abenaki must be recognized by the state of Vermont.

(6) According to a public affairs specialist with the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), state recognition of Indian tribes plays a very small role with regard to federal recognition. The only exception is when a state recognized a tribe before 1900.

(7) At least 15 other states have recognized their resident indigenous people as Native American Indian tribes without any of those tribes previously or subsequently acquiring federal recognition.

(8) State-recognized Native American Indian tribes and their members will continue to be subject to all laws of the state, and recognition shall not be construed to create any basis or authority for tribes to establish or promote any form of prohibited gambling activity or to claim any interest in land or real estate in Vermont. (Added 2005, No. 125 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 3, 2006; amended 2009, No. 107 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 14, 2010.)