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Shelburne flies Abenaki flag in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day

Published: Oct. 12, 2020 at 11:31 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 12, 2020 at 8:06 PM EDT
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SHELBURNE, Vt. (WCAX) - The town of Shelburne is flying the Nulhegan Abenaki flag at Town Hall in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day.

The flag-raising ceremony was held Monday morning. It was organized by the Pearson Library and led by Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Abenaki tribe.

Cate Cross, the main organizer for the event, says that Indigenous Peoples Day should be a day of learning and appreciating Native American culture and history. She says this ceremony is meant to call attention to the history of the local area which was sacred land to the Abenaki before it was ceded by European settlers.

“The idea for this event came to me as we look nationally to rectify past history and to recognize history as it truly is,” Cross said.

Chief Stevens also spoke to event attendees after the ceremony sharing Abenaki history, culture and artifacts.

And he spoke with our Darren Perron a little later.

Stevens told us his people date back 12,000 years in Vermont.

The chief says when Europeans came, they brought war, plagues and forced people from their land.

He says Indigenous Peoples Day is a day to celebrate those who survived.

“We’re able to celebrate our heritage by having the day to show people we are still here and we’re survivors,” Stevens said.

The chief says he’s proud the state honored the tribe’s hunting and fishing rights, allowing Abenaki people to hunt and fish without a license. And state parks will now include Abenaki names on them.

But they’re still working to get an apology from the state about forced sterilization programs. And they want four properties declared tax-exempt.

Watch the video below to see Darren’s full interview with Chief Stevens.

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