Vermont's Native American Commission Feud Gets National Ink | News | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont's Native American Commission Feud Gets National Ink

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The saga of the increasingly dysfunctional Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs is making national news.

The national Native American newspaper Indian Country Today featured a front page article on the series of resignations and internal turmoil.

Since last fall, four members have resigned from the commission, including two chairmen. The most recent resignation was May 25 by member Paul Bell. He departed shortly after chairman Donald Stevens did. The group meets this Thursday, June 18, to elect a commission member to facilitate meetings until the governor indicates whether he'll appoint a new chairman.

Stevens hopes the national attention given to the commission's dysfunction and the plight of Vermont's Native Americans will force legislators and the governor to make changes to the panel.

"By putting us on the front page, they are bringing our fight tothe rest of the nation. Native peoples have had to force the governmentto deal with our rights throughout history. Whether it be at Wounded Knee, the Canadian border blockades, or our own Monument Road blockadein Vermont in the past," said Stevens. "At some point Native People have always had tobring attention to our issues that were ignored for too long."

The question remains if lawmakers, or the governor, is listening. More attention appears to be going toward Samuel de Champlain, who "discovered" the region, than the people who were living here before he arrived — and live here today.

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