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Federal Recognition
Cason rejects recognition for Abenaki Nation


Jim Cason, the associate deputy secretary at the Interior Department and the acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs, has denied federal recognition to the Abenaki Nation of Vermont.

According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Cason determined that the St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenaki did not meet all the criteria for federal recognition. In a proposed finding, he said the tribe failed to show its has been identified as an Indian community; failed to show that it has operated as a distinct community on a continuous basis; failed to demonstrate political authority over its members; and failed to show descent from the historic Abenaki Nation.

The BIA also said the tribe is not the same as the Abenakis who left Vermont for Canada and are now part of the Abenaki First Nation who settled along the St. Francis River in Quebec.

The tribe filed its petition for federal recognition in 1982. The BIA placed the petition on the "ready" list for consideration in 1996.

The tribe has been the subject of controversy due to opposition from the state. Former governor Howard Dean, a one-time Democratic presidential nominee, fought the tribe's recognition out of fear of gaming.

State officials today continue to oppose the tribe's bid and recently tried to remove the word 'Abenaki" from state documents in order to prevent the tribe from being identified as an Indian community.

A bill to recognize the tribe on the state level is pending.

Get the Story:
Press Release: Associate Deputy Secretary Declines to Acknowledge St. Francis/Sokoki Band of Abenaki as an Indian Tribe (BIA 11/10)

Relevant Documents:
Summary of Acknowledgment Cases | R. Lee Fleming Declaration

Only on Indianz.Com:
Federal Recognition Database V2.0 (May 2005)

Relevant Links:
Abenaki Nation - http://www.abenakination.org

Related Stories:
Big workload looms for BIA on federal recognition (07/26)
Abenaki Nation recognition bill advances in Vermont (05/12)
Abenaki Nation presses case for state recognition (05/05)
Bill to recognize Abenaki Nation advances in Vermont (04/15)
State removes 'Abenaki' from tribe's contract (03/31)
Abenakis press Vermont for state recognition (02/16)
Bill in Vermont seeks to recognize Abenaki Nation (02/14)
Tribe's endorsement of Clark a criticism of Dean (01/13)
Abenaki chief wants NCAI to know Dean's record (11/20)