Vermont PSB Grants Abenaki Tribes Role in Vermont Yankee Sale Review

VERMONT YANKEE VPR

Howard Weiss-Tismann on VPR filed this story (excerpt below):

The Public Service Board says the Missisquoi Abenaki Tribe can take part in the regulatory hearings for the proposed sale of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

There are four state-recognized Abenaki tribes in Vermont, and the Public Service Board on Friday said the Missisquoi Tribe can take part in the hearings for the proposed sale to the industrial demolition company NorthStar Holdings. The board has already agreed to allow the Elnu Tribe, from southern Vermont, to intervene in the state hearings.

William Brotherton is a member of the Missisquoi Abenaki Tribal Council, and he says the northern tribe has a stake in the restoration of the Vernon site. “We have been diligent in making sure that our sites up north are protected and preserved, and so we wanted to be part of this process,” Brotherton said.

Mike Faher of VTDigger filed this story (excerpt below):

Two Native American tribes have won the right to be involved in the state’s review of the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee. The Vermont Public Service Board has ruled that both the Elnu Abenaki and Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi can act as “intervenors” in the state’s consideration of the plant’s purchase by NorthStar Group Services, a New York decommissioning company.

Both NorthStar and current owner Entergy had objected to the Missisquoi Abenaki’s intervention. But the Public Service Board sided with the tribe, saying its concerns about future use of the power plant site are relevant to the matter at hand.

In its request for intervenor status, the Swanton-based Missisquoi nation had summed up its concerns this way: “Our tribe wishes to participate in the process that will determine how the former nuclear power plant site is utilized in the future in order that we safeguard the heritage of our past.”

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Note: Elnu Abenaki, in keeping with its prior intra-Tribal agreements, will be standing in all of these proceedings as proxy for Nulhegan and Koasek Abenaki Tribes as well. We have agreed to keep tribal leadership in open communication and conference as we address mutual concerns.

Brattleboro Stands for Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Town Meeting

Brattlebor RTM 2017 Radder Reformer

Changing the name in which the town celebrates Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day was met with unanimous support at Representative Town Meeting at Brattleboro Area Middle School, where the town’s budget was amended to include $10,000 for an organization that would pay an energy coordinator and a resolution was adopted to voice concerns about President Donald Trump.

“There’s a growing awareness that our national narrative about the discovering of America by Columbus is inaccurate,” Town Meeting member Dr. Jessica Dolan said, adding that the change “affords us the opportunity to respect the Abenaki Confederation and Indigenous People in general on whose land we live.”

That also allows for educational experiences in local classes and the Brooks Memorial Library, she said. The article warned at the meeting had been petitioned by Rich Holschuh, a Brattleboro resident and member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.

Town Meeting member Elizabeth McLoughlin said she understood Columbus Day had been established as an Italian American holiday and as an Italian American, she fully supported the name change.

“I broadly support this change,” said Town Meeting member Margaret Atkinson. “I would just like to caution us, as people who inhabit now the whitest state in the nation, that because we recognize history this way, the ongoing issues for Indigenous People are not solved just because folks have a day. I would just ask this body to seek other ways they themselves could help in real ways to help this country at least look at native people now; what they need now and what can we can do today for the people here today? Especially the kids.”

See the original article by Chris Mays in the Brattleboro Reformer. Photo by Kristopher Radder.

Brattleboro Adopts Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Yesterday, Brattleboro’s Representative Town Meeting adopted Article 22, “…to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, in place of Columbus Day.” After a lengthy and thoughtful discussion, Moderator Lawrin Crispe called the question and it passed unanimously. Action on the article can be found in the Brattleboro Community TV footage at 7:49:15. Special thanks to my friend and fellow advocate Dr. Jess Dolan for her considerate testimony, along with other Members who offered backing.

Kchi wliwni – great thanks to everyone for your support, assistance, and conviction in bringing this positive change to our community. I hope we can look forward to growing awareness of a more truthful and restorative story, one that benefits all.

#ReclaimingWantastegok #decolonization

Peace.

Brattleboro to Vote on Indigenous Peoples’ Day March 25, 2017

Brattleboro’s Representative Town Meeting members will be considering Article 22 on the 2017 Annual Warning this Saturday, March 25th, 2017. From Chris Mays’ article in the Brattleboro Reformer’s article following last Wednesday’s (3/15) informational meeting:

“The last article asks whether the town should advise the Select Board to proclaim the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in place of Columbus Day.

“Why Indigenous Peoples’ Day?” asked Rich Holschuh, who petitioned for inclusion of the article. “It’s because its time has come. It’s a good year, with Standing Rock in the headlines and the move nationwide to embracing those who have not been embraced in the past. It’s a nationwide movement. It’s going across the country.”

He said two to three dozen communities have already made the change. Last week, the town of Marlboro did.

“They were the first in the state,” Holschuh said. “I was hoping to be first. We can be second. Why Brattleboro? I think Brattleboro can offer a great deal of leadership on this because this is where colonization began in the state. Fort Dummer, 1724. This is where the process of displacing the Indigenous People of this area, which are the Abenaki, began and it continues. It’s highly symbolic and I think it’s an important thing to do.”

Decolonizing Native American Art: The Indigenous Resistance

vera longtoe sheehan decolonizing native american art

On Friday, Feb. 24, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance, founded by senior Lina Longtoe, hosted Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Vera Longtoe-Sheehan to talk to the community about the Decolonization of Native American Art.

Longtoe-Sheehan presented students with some of the experiences and realities she and so many other Native American artists have endured, including the issue of making and selling authentic Native American art.

Due in large part to the Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990, indigenous communities like the Abenaki tribe, to which both Longtoe and Longtoe-Sheehan belong, couldn’t legally sell their art as authentic Native American works for decades.
From the separation of families by arbitrary lines to a state-wide eugenics program, this was just one in a long succession of abuses the two later explained. Through it all, the Abenaki people kept their pride. “We never surrendered, we never gave up, we did, however, have to hide in plain sight,” Sheehan-Longtoe said.

Read the full story by Angelique Herring in The Current Online, the official student newspaper at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. Photo above by Angelique Herring also.

Tim Brookes and Endangered Alphabets at Champlain College

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For his exhibition, Tim Brookes carved phrases into indigenous wood using disappearing or endangered alphabets from across the globe. Pictured, in Abenaki, the phrase, ‘Language of the grandfathers who went before’ is carved into a plank of walnut. Photo from VPR.

Six years ago, writer and Champlain College professor Tim Brookes carved letters into wooden planks to give to family as holiday gifts. The presents were well received and Brookes enjoyed his new hobby. He added new and different alphabet letters and languages to his hand-carved signs. Then, by chance, Brookes learned just how many of the globe’s writing systems were disappearing and a project was born: The Endangered Alphabets Project.

Brookes talked with VPR about the Endangered Alphabets Project exhibition, up now at Champlain College through March 10. The thirteen carvings each bear the phrase, “Mother Tongue,” written in Abenaki, Balinese, Mandean, Inuktitut and several other cultures whose written word is disappearing.

Full article and podcast at VPR.

Liz Charlesbois on Indigenous Seed Keeping at Northampton Seed Swap

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Grow Food Northampton is hosting the third annual Seed Swap at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School on Saturday, March 4, 2017 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Co-sponsored by Northampton Winter Farmers’ Market and Nuestras Raíces, the event will include workshops, activities, and free seeds for gardeners. It is free and open to the public.

Nuestras Raíces is sponsoring a talk on indigenous seed keeping by Liz Charlebois, Abenaki basketmaker and agriculturalist at 11 a.m. There will also be a beginning seed saving workshop given by Daniel Botkin of Laughing Dog Farm in Gill at 10:05 and a plant breeding workshop with Tevis Robertson-Goldberg of Crabapple Farm in Chesterfield at noon.

Article in the Greenfield Recorder.