Democratic presidential hopeful Wesley Clark won the endorsement on Monday of Vermont’s Abenaki Indian tribe.
The Abenaki Nation has never endorsed a presidential candidate. Tribal leaders say their decision was as much a statement against their former governor Howard Dean, as it was a statement in favor of Clark. Dean and Clark are both vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
As governor, Dean opposed state and federal recognition for the Abenaki, saying it could lead to extensive legal battles over land claims and might allow Abenaki to build casinos in Vermont. But Chief April Rushlow says the tribe wants recognition for other benefits, including scholarships to Vermont schools.
A spokesman for Dean said no other governor worked as closely with the Abenaki descendants as Dean did to promote their economic progress, education and cultural development.