Lawmakers push for free fishing, hunting licenses for Abenaki

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 5:06 PM EST
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Some lawmakers hope to reconcile wrongdoings against Vermont's Abenaki tribe by giving members free hunting and fishing licenses.

The proposal would give about 6,000 enrolled members of the Abenaki tribe licenses.

The documents usually cost about $150 each.

Sponsors of the bill say the Abenaki people have farmed and hunted in the Champlain Valley for centuries and this bill is a step in the right direction to recognize their tribal sovereignty.

"And so as part of moving toward reconciliation and a better future, we have to take action to make things right. We have to make things right. We have to apologize as a state for the harm caused toward Abenaki people," said Rep. Brian Cina, D/P-Burlington.

Vermont's indigenous tribes were not recognized until Gov. Peter Shumlin's administration in 2012. Since then, Vermont's Legislature has taken up a number of bills about indigenous rights. In 2012, the state officially recognized the Abenaki tribe. And in 2016, lawmakers acknowledged "Indigenous Peoples Day."