Terra Nullius, Nobody’s Land, Free for the Taking

Wichita-Indians-Dwelling

The same story which has been told here, in n’dakinna. Vermont, in particular.

“The Wichita Indians are one more example of indigenous Americans who did not fit the stereotype of itinerant hunter-gatherers. That stereotype undergirds the legal theory that made Indian land available for settlement. The Americas, the argument goes, were sparsely populated by peoples who followed the game and annual ripening of berries and other foodstuffs available for gathering by savages who did not know how to raise their own food.

The hunter-gatherers lived in no fixed locations and so had no use for land titles. The empty lands that provided their sustenance were terra nullius, “nobody’s land,” free for the taking by sedentary farmers who represented civilization.”

Link to the story in Indian Country Today.

Windmill Hill Pinnacle Association Annual Meeting

roger-longtoe-sheehan-portrait

Sunday, April 30, 2017: From 4 to 6 PM, as part of the Pinnacle Association’s Annual Meeting, there will be a Feature Program entitled  “We Are Still Here – Abenaki Culture and Contemporary Issues.”  Speakers are Rich Holschuh and Roger Longtoe Sheehan.  Holschuh, who serves on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and traces his heritage to the Mi’kmaq/Penobscot – fellow Nations with the Abenaki, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy in the Wabanaki Confederacy – will discuss the Abenaki Heritage in Vermont, the indigenous people’s relation to the land, their interactions with the European settlers, and their efforts to reclaim their culture.  Roger Longtoe Sheehan – Abenaki artist, native musician, educator, and Chief of the El-Nu Abenaki Tribe – is a talented, self-taught artist who is a well-known creator of soapstone pipes and Native arts and tools. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and talents at Abenaki Living History events.

The meeting and program will take place upstairs at Main Street Arts, 35 Main Street in Saxtons River.  Members and the public are encouraged to attend to learn about Vermont’s Native Americans and about plans the Pinnacle Association has for the coming year, WHPA elections, and its Volunteer of the Year Award.  Refreshments will be served, and maps will be on display before the meeting and program.  Of special interest will be a map of the Pinnacle Association’s ridgeline properties that will include the new 50-acre Radford land gift.  A new trail planned for that section will enhance WHPA’s 25-mile trail system whose main section runs from Putney Mountain to Grafton.

For further information, contact Rick Cowan or whpa@sover.net.

See the full web announcement here.

See a related announcement article in the Commons here.

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Elnu Abenaki Tribe Files to Intervene in VT Yankee Sale Review by VT PSB

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Two articles today, from VTDigger and the Rutland Herald.

A Native American tribe is seeking a role in the proposed sale of Vermont Yankee, citing the importance of the land that hosts the shut-down nuclear plant. The Windham County-based Elnu Abenaki Tribe has filed a motion to intervene in the state Public Service Board’s review of the plant’s purchase by NorthStar Group Services, a New York-based decommissioning company.

Full article by Make Faher at VTDigger.org.

The Elnu Abenaki tribe has filed for intervenor status with the Public Service Board over the proposed sale, decommissioning and cleanup of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon. A spokesman for the Elnu, which are based in the southeastern part of the state, said Wednesday the Vermont Yankee site was of cultural significance to the Abenaki. He said significant archaeological Abenaki sites are nearby, near the Vernon hydroelectric dam, which is owned by TransCanada, as well as in neighboring Hinsdale, New Hampshire.

Full article by Susan Smallheer at the Rutland Herald.

Aerial photo by Kristopher Radder of the Brattleboro Reformer.

Edit: March 9, 2017 The Brattleboro Reformer picked up Mike Faher’s story also.

Edit: March 15, 2017 The Greenfield Recorder picked up Susan Smallheer’s story.

Latest on Proposed VT Yankee Sale by Entergy to NorthStar

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With the proposed sale of the shuttered nuclear power plant known as Vermont Yankee in Vernon on the Kwanitekw, there has been a flurry of news coverage about the regulatory process and related interests. As noted on this blog, activity in this sensitive and sacred area of Sokwakik brings concern to Native people here in n’dakinna. Below are a few of the latest articles:

VTDigger 03/03/2017 https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/03/vermont-yankee-sale-review-attracts-crowd/

VTDigger 03/07/2017 https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/07/feds-commit-vermont-public-meeting-yankee-sale/

VPR.net 02/28/2017 http://digital.vpr.net/post/psb-sets-march-14-first-hearing-vermont-yankee-sale#stream/0

The last cited article reports that the first of two planned public hearings by the VT PSB will be held on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 at the Vernon Elementary School, across the road from the plant.

The NRC has committed to holding a local meeting sometime soon, after much pressure. A date has not been set yet.

Vermont Senate, House Bills Introduced for Statewide Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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The move in Vermont to permanently change the observance of Columbus Day to the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day (IPD) on the second Tuesday in October – statewide – has made great advances this week. Bills have just been introduced in both branches of the State Legislature to that end. S.83 has been introduced by Chittenden Senator Debbie Ingram, with the support of Sens. Baruth, Brooks, McCormack, and Pollina. H.488 has been introduced by Chittenden 6-4 Representative Brian Cina, with co-sponsors Reps. Buckholz, Chesnut-Tangerman, Colburn, Gonzalez, McCormack, Murphy, O’Sullivan, Rachelson, and Weed.

Both bills are entitled “An act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, and draw their language from the 2016 Executive Proclamation made by Governor Peter Shumlin last October. A link to the draft House bill itself is here – H.488, and a link to the Senate bill is here – S.83. Rep. Cina visited the February 8th meeting of the VT Commission on Native American Affairs to present his draft IPD language, along with other Native-centric bills he is sponsoring. The Commission passed, by consensus, a motion to support his work to this end and thanked him for the initiative to move this act forward, one that has been on their action list for awhile.

Sacred Ojibwa Bark Scrolls Returning After 70 Years

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In the 1930s, an American anthropologist named Irving Hallowell journeyed north to Canada to live among the Ojibwa and study their culture. He left with a wealth of knowledge – and something else. He took a bundle of sacred scrolls, made out of birch bark, and central to the performance of ancient religious ceremonies of the tribe.

The scrolls were never forgotten by those whose ancestors used them. Some elders in the tribe remember the old ways of doing things. Elder Donald Bird still uses the sweat lodge behind his house. There were other rituals, like the drum and the shaking tent, used to conjure the souls of the living and the dead.

Read this archived article from CBCNews.

*****

Traditional knowledge and its tangible representations has been scattered, banned, appropriated, diluted, sold, and destroyed, ever since coercive colonial forces have arrived in indigenous homelands. The principles and understandings of spirit signified by these materials persist, however, in the landscapes which generated them and in the heartss of the survivors who hold them. They are the same. They are still here. They can still be known by those who seek to restore the connection and the relationship. All is not lost… all is still here to be found.

From John Trudell’s “Crazy Horse”:

The Wild Age, the Glory Days live
Crazy Horse, We hear what you say
One Earth, One Mother
One does not sell the Earth the People walk upon
We are the Land…