Yesterday, May 6, 2019, Vermont’s Governor Philip J. Scott signed S.68 “An act regarding Indigenous Peoples’ Day” into law, without prior notice. Although the opportunity of a ceremonial signing has been denied, the objective has been realized. We will be able to tell a more complete story going forward. Christopher Columbus is an incontrovertible part of that story, but he has come to represent the onslaught of colonization and destruction with (dis)respect to those who where already here. And are still here. And whose resilience and understanding is witness to the efficacy of their relationship to this land. This is cause for recognition and honoring.
Received today, via Rep. Brian Cina, from the staff of VT Governor Phil Scott:
From: Smith, Kendal <Kendal.Smith@vermont.gov>
Sent: Tuesday, May 7, 2019 10:31 AM
To: Smith, Kendal
Subject: Action taken by the Governor on bill – May 6, 2019
Good Morning All,
The Governor has informed the Senate that on the on the 6th day of May, 2019, he signed bills originating in the Senate of the following titles:
S.53 An act relating to determining the proportion of health care spending allocated to primary care
S.68 An act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day
S.89 An act relating to allowing reflective health benefit plans at all metal levels
The Governor has informed the House of Representatives that on the 6th day of May, 2019, he signed bills originating in the House of the following titles:
H.204 An act relating to miscellaneous provisions affecting navigators, Medicaid records, and the Department of Vermont Health Access
H.321 An act relating to aggravated murder for killing a firefighter or an emergency medical provider
Video links for ORCA Media/CCTV coverage of Committee hearings – testimony and debate – for S.68 of the 2019-2020 Session.
1. Senate Committee on Government Operations. S.68 – Indigenous People’s Day. Recorded February 28, 2019.
2. House Committee on General, Military, and Civil Affairs. S.68 Indigenous Peoples’ Day recorded April 10, 2019.
This afternoon (03.21.2019) S.68, “An act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day” passed with its third reading in the Senate chamber of the Vermont legislature. The bill will now move over to the House of Representatives for a similar consideration. Kchi wliwni – with great thanks to everyone who has been in support of this timely and worthy effort!
A former U-32 student is back in Vermont to make a movie about the state’s infamous eugenics era.
Luke Becker-Lowe, fellow film students from Emerson College in Boston and a cast of 20 were at the Center for Arts and Learning on Barre Street Saturday and Sunday, filming scenes that staged the sterilization of subjects.
The film is based on the Vermont Eugenics Program that followed a 1931 law legalizing the sterilization of “idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded or insane persons residing in state institutions.” Vermont’s eugenics program, headed by University of Vermont Prof. Harry F. Perkins, led to the sterilization of 253 people, mostly women, between 1931 and 1957, according to UVM’s website.
Becker-Lowe said growing up on dirt roads in central Vermont gave him an appreciation of backwoods life, unique characters and the challenges they face. He is also a fan of 20th century period films that reflect social and cultural shifts over time. Their project, “Dormancy,” was a response to and a reflection of a new era of political and social intolerance in America that serves as a sobering lesson, he said.
Read the full article by Stephen Mills in the Rutland Herald.
Link to the GoFundMe site for this production.
Massachusetts lawmakers are weighing whether to ban the use of Native American mascots in public schools — a proposal that drew strong opinions at a public hearing Tuesday. The push comes after the town of Tewksbury rebuffed efforts to change the name of its high school mascot, the Redmen — and even as the town of Montague continues to debate its school committee decision to remove its long-time Indians mascot.
Linda Thomas has children in the first and fourth grades in Tewksbury and said she doesn’t want to signal that “it’s OK to use these images and memes and logos.” “The name has become so integrated and repeated that the meaning is lost,” she said. “People using it don’t intend to cause harm, but the impact is harmful and Native Americans have been saying this now for decades.”
Thomas added it’s hard to imagine any other racial group being used as a mascot.
Read the full story in the Greenfield Recorder.
Development pressures that could compromise sacred and ceremonial American Indian sites are prompting concerned residents to ask annual Town Meeting to mandate better protections and more thorough studies of Shutesbury land.
The petition, known as the “Resolution to Preserve Native American Historical Sites and Traditional Cultural Properties, Including Ceremonial Stone Landscapes,” was recently submitted for inclusion on the May 6 warrant by Friends of Shutesbury and the Oso:ah Foundation. Oso:ah stands for “planting a tree in the name of peace.”
James Schilling-Cachat of Leverett Road, a spokesman for the groups, said the article is important because the town is rich in sacred stone sites, yet they are at risk because little has been done to catalog them.
Read the full article by Scott Merzbach in the Greenfield Recorder.
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.