It Is Done: Gov. Phil Scott Signs S.68 Into Law May 6, 2019

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

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Indigenous Peoples’ Day Bill Passes in Vermont April 17, 2019

Rich Holschuh VY Sale Mike Faher

On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, the Vermont House passed S.68 in concurrence with the Senate. Governor Phil Scott indicated in a press conference the next day (4/18) that he expects to add his signature and sign it into law shortly (at about 30:20 into the video).  With much support and assistance from members of the community, this definitive step has been taken. Its significance is demonstrated by the continued opposition by some to the basic underlying premise: a celebration of the individual Christopher Columbus subverts the millions that were (and are) systematically subjugated following his lead. We know better, and to know and not do, is more than hypocritical, it is duplicitous.

Vermont State Rep. Brian Cina, a major legislative supporter and booster of this action, celebrates the passage of S.68 on April 17, 2019. (via Rep. Cina on Facebook)

S.68’s text can be read here.

The news story was picked up initially by the Vermont media at Burlington Free Press and VTDigger, and since then by others, including USA Today, WCAX, The Hill, and Fox News, among others.

 

VT Rep. Brian Cina’s Introduction of H.119, Indigenous Peoples’ Day

On Feb. 15, 2019, Sponsor Rep. Brian Cina introduced H.119, “An Act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” to the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, where it had been assigned by the full House on Jan. 30th. His well-written statement is below and can be found at this link as well. Thank you Brian for your thoughtful and continual support!

H.119: An act relating to Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Representative Brian Cina
February 15, 2019

We are living on an ancient land that has been home to Indigenous Peoples for thousands of years. Our state and nation grew out of this sacred soil, these rocks, these rivers, these valleys and these mountains. The story of this continent is like a delicately woven basket, a complex history of interactions between various Indigenous peoples and people who came here from other places. This rich history is evident today by the names of natural landmarks and places, such as: Missisquoi- “where there is flint,” Winooski- “wild onion land,” Connecticut- “long tidal river,” Memphramagog- “where there is a big expanse of water.”

This history plays out in our foods, many which were cultivated by Indigenous people of the Americas, such as corn, tomatoes, potatoes, wild rice, pumpkins, cranberries, peanuts, and maple syrup. Indigenous people taught Europeans how to hunt and grow food, they shared knowledge about plant medicines, they served as guides, they fought for the Nation’s independence and have served in every war since then, they have contributed and continue to contribute to American society on every level. Many Americans have traces of indigenous blood running through their veins and Indigenous genes in every cell of their body, and many Americans celebrate and practice their Indigenous culture and values, which have survived through disease, war, genocide, eugenics, and many methods of cultural oppression. Indigenous contributions to our state and nation have not been given proper recognition, and instead have been erased or revised as part of colonization. As our society considers ways to work towards reconciliation, it is important to make space for the celebration of Indigenous
People.

There are many places that have created an Indigenous Peoples’ Day. At last count, there were sixty cities and schools that have officially replaced the day. South Dakota has a separate “Native American Day.” Alaska has an “Indigenous Peoples’ Day,” but never had Columbus Day. There are currently 5 states with active Indigenous Peoples’ Day bills: Maine, New Mexico, Montana, New Hampshire, Kansas. For the past 3 years, both Governor Scott and Governor Shumlin proclaimed Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Columbus Day. It is time for us to make a permanent change. No state legislature has made this change yet, let Vermont be a leader yet again.

 

Action to Support H.119, an Act for Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Link to bill description page

The bill as introduced this session by principal sponsors Reps. Brian Cina and James Masland has 28 co-sponsors. It was introduced on Jan. 30, 2019 and sent to the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs. Thank you Brian and Jim! From Rep. Cina last Wednesday:

“Just wanted to let you know that the Indigenous Peoples Day bill has been introduced! It is time to mobilize our networks and communities to email members of the House General, Housing, and Military Affairs Committee! We need to ask them to take the bill off the wall, to gather testimony, and to finally pass this bill so that we do not have to rely on a proclamation from the Governor any more.”

*****
Bills in Committee are said to be “on the wall” – quite literally tacked to the bulletin board. To proceed, they have to be taken up by the Committee, testimony solicited, amendments offered (if any), and voted out to the full House Chamber. This is then repeated in the House, then the bill is sent to the Senate. I am told that Chair Thomas Stevens is favorably inclined, so that’s a good start. As Brian said, we need to contact the GHMA Committee and express support for taking action on H.119. Names and emails are below:

This is the page for the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs.

Chair Thomas Stevens tstevens@leg.state.vt.us

Vice-Chair Joseph “Chip” Troiano ctroiano@leg.state.vt.us

Ranking Member Diana Gonzalez dgonzalez@leg.state.vt.us

Matthew Birong Jr. mbirong@leg.state.vt.us

Marianna Gamache mgamache@leg.state.vt.us

Clerk Mary E. Howard MHoward@leg.state.vt.us

John Killacky jkillacky@leg.state.vt.us

Emily Long elong@leg.state.vt.us

Randall Szott rszott@leg.state.vt.us

Tommy Walz twalz@leg.state.vt.us

Here’s all the email addresses together if you want to send a group email (copy and paste all at once). Simply express your positive support for taking up H.119 in Committee.

tstevens@leg.state.vt.us

ctroiano@leg.state.vt.us

dgonzalez@leg.state.vt.us

mbirong@leg.state.vt.us

mgamache@leg.state.vt.us

MHoward@leg.state.vt.us

jkillacky@leg.state.vt.us

elong@leg.state.vt.us

rszott@leg.state.vt.us

twalz@leg.state.vt.us

 

Thank you for your help with this! I will keep you posted as the bill progresses.

 

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

indigenous-peoples-day-marchers

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.