MONTPELIER, Vt. — After years of fighting for it, some members of the Abenaki Indian community have been officially recognized as tribes in Vermont.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed bills Friday granting state recognition to the Elnu Abenaki, based in Jamaica, in southern Vermont, and the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, based in Brownington, in northern Vermont. The step could allow the tribes to sell their crafts as Indian-made and seek federal education grants.
The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs says the tribes met certain criteria documented by membership and genealogical records, which show they are descended from identified Vermont or regional Native people. The commission says the applications were reviewed by independent scholars.
But some in the Abenaki community question the process and legitimacy of the tribes.