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The Parmelee Post: Indigenous Vermonters Form Abenaki First Group


Published September 23, 2016 at 4:38 p.m.

The Abenaki flag
  • The Abenaki flag
Emotions ran high at the Swanton Public Library last week during the inaugural meeting of the newly formed anti-settlement group, Abenaki First.

“Enough is enough,” exclaimed group leader Don Edchute. “There are now more than 600,000 non-indigenous Vermonters living on this land. It’s about time we put our foot down and finally put an end to this reckless immigration.”

Edchute is part of long line of Abenaki ancestry that has occupied the Vermont area since at least the 1600s, when its tribes first came into contact with European settlers.

“Our culture has survived war, disease, tribal conflict, cultural diffusion and even forced sterilization. I’m finally starting to suspect that these settlers have no intention of ever assimilating our beliefs and traditions,” he explained. “Hell, it took until 2011, 400 years after our first encounters with European settlers, for them to even grant us state recognition here in Vermont.”

[jump] It wasn’t until Edchute discovered Rutland First, a group of Rutland residents formed in opposition of the city’s proposed resettlement of 100 Syrian refugees, that he decided to form a group of his own.

“Basically, I suffered from a severe episode of what my ancestors referred to as ‘Aryoufukinkidnme,’ which roughly translates to ‘irony so thick that you begin to choke on it.’ I just knew I had to do something,” he told Seven Days. “I honestly thought these settlers were finally showing signs of real progress by inviting refugees of war-torn Syria into their community, but after stumbling across this Rutland First group on Facebook, I realized that some souls are just beyond saving.”

At the meeting, members of Abenaki First shared stories of mistreatment at the hands of the settlers and agreed it was time to finally put an end to their infiltration.

“These people cut down forests to build stores that inevitably close 20 years later, leaving behind rusty relics of failed capitalism on this once-sacred land,” exclaimed Jess McQuints. “They have turned healing and medicine into for-profit commodities. They have been poisoning their own water supply. I think it’s about time for them to pack it up and go home.”

Edchute clarified that he does not believe war, disease, forced sterilization or any other of the other challenges his ancestors faced would be effective ways to force the settlers out of Vermont.

“Despite their best attempts, our culture survived every deplorable effort that was made to eradicate it. I see no reason believe those same tactics would be effective against these settlers,” he said. “Clearly, we need to try something a little more drastic if we’re ever going to control the spread of their culture and fully restore our own.”

When asked what this radical new solution could be, Edchute simply replied, “an education.”

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