Title 1: General Provisions
Chapter 23: NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN PEOPLE
1 V.S.A. § 853. Criteria and process for State recognition of Native American Indian tribes
§ 853. Criteria and process for State recognition of Native American Indian tribes
(a) For the purposes of this section:
(1) "Applicant" means a group or band seeking formal State recognition as a Native American Indian tribe.
(2) "Legislative committees" means the House Committee on General, Housing and Military Affairs and the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs.
(3) "Recognized" or "recognition" means acknowledged as a Native American Indian tribe by the Vermont General Assembly.
(4) "Tribe" means an assembly of Native American Indian people who are related to each other by kinship and who trace their ancestry to a kinship group that has historically maintained an organizational structure that exerts influence and authority over its members.
(b) The State recognizes all individuals of Native American Indian heritage who reside in Vermont as an ethnic minority. This designation does not confer any status to any collective group of individuals.
(c) In order to be eligible for recognition, an applicant must file an application with the Commission and demonstrate compliance with subdivisions (1) through (8) of this subsection which may be supplemented by subdivision (9) of this subsection:
(1) A majority of the applicant's members currently reside in a specific geographic location within Vermont.
(2) A substantial number of the applicant's members are related to each other by kinship and trace their ancestry to a kinship group through genealogy or other methods. Genealogical documents shall be limited to those that show a descendency from identified Vermont or regional native people.
(3) The applicant has a connection with Native American Indian tribes and bands that have historically inhabited Vermont.
(4) The applicant has historically maintained an organizational structure that exerts influence and authority over its members that is supported by documentation of the structure, membership criteria, the names and residential addresses of its members, and the methods by which the applicant conducts its affairs.
(5) The applicant has an enduring community presence within the boundaries of Vermont that is documented by archaeology, ethnography, physical anthropology, history, folklore, or any other applicable scholarly research and data.
(6) The applicant is organized in part:
(A) to preserve, document, and promote its Native American Indian culture and history, and this purpose is reflected in its bylaws;
(B) to address the social, economic, political, or cultural needs of the members with ongoing educational programs and activities.
(7) The applicant can document traditions, customs, oral stories, and histories that signify the applicant's Native American heritage and connection to their historical homeland.
(8) The applicant has not been recognized as a tribe in any other state, province, or nation.
(9) Submission of letters, statements, and documents from:
(A) municipal, State, or federal authorities that document the applicant's history of tribe-related business and activities;
(B) tribes in and outside Vermont that attest to the Native American Indian heritage of the applicant.
(d) The Commission shall consider the application pursuant to the following process which shall include at least the following requirements:
(1) The Commission shall:
(A) provide public notice of receipt of the application and supporting documentation;
(B) hold at least one public hearing on the application; and
(C) provide written notice of completion of each step of the recognition process to the applicant.
(2) Established appropriate time frames that include a requirement that the Commission and the review panel shall complete a review of the application and issue a determination regarding recognition within one year after an application and all the supporting documentation have been filed, and if a recommendation is not issued, the Commission shall provide written explanation to the applicant and the legislative committees of the reasons for the delay and the expected date that a decision will be issued.
(3) A process for appointing a three-member review panel for each application to review the supporting documentation and determine its sufficiency, accuracy, and relevance. The review panel shall provide a detailed written report of its findings and conclusions to the Commission, the applicant, and legislative committees. Members of each review panel shall be appointed cooperatively by the Commission and the applicant from a list of professionals and academic scholars with expertise in cultural or physical anthropology, Indian law, archaeology, Native American Indian genealogy, history, or another related Native American Indian subject area. If the applicant and the Commission are unable to agree on a panel, the State Historic Preservation Officer shall appoint the panel. No member of the review panel may be a member of the Commission or affiliated with or on the tribal rolls of the applicant.
(4) The Commission shall review the application, the supporting documentation, the report from the review panel, and any other relevant information to determine compliance with subsection (b) of this section and make a determination to recommend or deny recognition. The decision to recommend recognition shall require a majority vote of all eligible members of the Commission. A member of the Commission who is on the tribal roll of the applicant is ineligible to participate in any action regarding the application. If the Commission denies recognition, the Commission shall provide the applicant and the legislative committees with written notice of the reasons for the denial, including specifics of all insufficiencies of the application.
(5) The applicant may file additional supporting documentation for reconsideration within one year after receipt of the notice of denial.
(6) An applicant may withdraw an application any time before the Commission issues a recommendation, and may not file a new application for two years following withdrawal. A new application and supporting documentation shall be considered a de novo filing, and the Commission shall not consider the withdrawn application or its supporting documentation.
(8) All proceedings, applications, and supporting documentation shall be public except material exempt pursuant to subdivision 317(40) of this title. Any documents relating to genealogy submitted in support of the application shall be available only to the three-member review panel.
(e) An applicant for recognition shall be recognized as follows:
(1) by approval of the General Assembly;
(2) two years after a recommendation to recognize a tribe by the Commission is filed with the legislative committees, provided the General Assembly took no action on the recommendation.
(f) A decision by the Commission to recommend denial of recognition is final unless an applicant or a successor of interest to the applicant that has previously applied for and been denied recognition under this chapter provides new and substantial documentation and demonstrates that the new documentation was not reasonably available at the time of the filing of the original application.
(g) Vermont Native American Indian bands and tribes and individual members of those bands and tribes remain subject to all the laws of the State.
(h) Recognition of a Native American Indian tribe shall not be construed to create, extend, or form the basis of any right or claim to land or real estate in Vermont or right to conduct any gambling activities prohibited by law, but confers only those rights specifically described in this chapter. (Added 2005, No. 125 (Adj. Sess.), § 1, eff. May 3, 2006; amended 2009, No. 107 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. May 14, 2010; 2013, No. 142 (Adj. Sess.), § 80, eff. July 1, 2014.)