Abenaki recognition back on the table

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A Senate committee will consider fixing a 2006 bill that recognized the Abenaki in Vermont but failed to allow them to label their crafts as Indian made, as intended.

Under the proposed amendment, the state Commission on Native American Affairs would recommend to the Legislature whether to recognize a state tribe or band as Native American and the General Assembly would have the final say.

But not everyone is satisfied.

The Commission on Native American Affairs had wanted the Legislature to vest the authority to it.

April Rushlow Merrill, chief of the Swanton/St. Albans Abenaki Tribe, which had sought but failed to get federal recognition, plans to testify against the proposal Friday.

She says the neither the Legislature nor the commission has the right to recognize tribes.

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