Between 1931 and 1941, thanks to an act of their Legislature, more than 200 Vermonters were sterilized — many of them Abenakis and French Canadians — for the perceived social crime of being “idiots,” “imbeciles,” “feeble-minded” or “insane.” With the hindsight of history, it’s hard for many people — especially school children — to believe an official eugenics policy was written into law in the Green Mountain State.
“It’s been really powerful hearing about this,” said Rose Stone, a student at Guilford Central School. “My dad’s part Indian, so I am learning his history.”
“As a French American … my own history could be in that,” said Cooper Cooper LaFlam.
“It’s a really important thing for us to learn,” said Emily Matthew Muller, one of Stone’s classmates. “A lot of people would just tell history as Christopher Columbus came to America and everything was fine and nothing happened. But it wasn’t that way at all”
With the help of Judy Dow, an Abenaki basketmaker, Amy Skolnick and Cory Sorensen are leading Guilford’s fourth- and fifth-graders through an exploration of the story of eugenics in Vermont.
Read the full article by Bob Audette in the Brattleboro Reformer. Photography by Kristopher Radder.
On Monday, 10/30/2017, Judy Dow, Abenaki activist and educator, will be speaking at Mount Holyoke College on the topic of “Is our future really our history? eugenics of the past and today.” The talk is part of the Fall seminar series sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences. pdf here JudyDowOct30MtHolyoke
Time: 4:30 p.m. (refreshments served at 4:15 p.m.)
Location: Cleveland Room L2, Mount Holyoke College
Open to the public!
August 11, 2017 at the Root Social Justice Center, 28 Williams St., Brattleboro, VT
In the larger struggle against racism, we invite Judy Dow, an Abenaki educator, artist, and researcher to discuss the VT Eugenics Survey and it’s connection to the Dorthy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award. She will be joined by local librarians and teachers to reflect on the legacy of colonialism in our society today.
Join Brattleboro Solidarity in supporting the struggle led by Judy Dow to change the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award. This last minute event is very time sensitive as the Vermont Department of Libraries will be deciding any day now whether or not to change the name. Please come to show your support.
Following the talk there will be light refreshments and actions steps to be taken.
The eugenics movement is a dark chapter of Vermont’s history, and now one local author’s alleged role in that movement is under intense scrutiny.
Dorothy Canfield Fisher was a prolific local writer, and her namesake rests at various institutions in Arlington today including Fisher Elementary School. In 1957 a Vermont children’s literacy program was established in the author’s honor, and the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award has recognized outstanding children’s writers over the last 60 years.
Fisher’s reputation has been questioned in recent weeks, as Essex educator and artist Judy Dow has led the fight for the removal of Fisher’s name from the award. Dow, who has both French Canadian and Abenaki roots, claims that Fisher not only stereotyped French Canadians and Native Americans in her extensive works, but played an active role in the eugenics movement as well.
Read the full story in the Bennington Banner.