Letter to the Editor: “Land Back” more complex than article states
I noticed your story on Ben & Jerry's ("Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream company posts about Land Back sparks outrage") is missing some critical information on who the Abenaki (people indigenous to Vermont) are.
As the story implied, if Ben and Jerry's are for real, they should start with the Abenaki people who have thought of Vermont as their home for thousands of years. They should just make sure they're working with the true Abenaki.
Over ten years ago, Vermont recognized four groups of so-called 'Abenaki tribes' who are not indigenous at all, but actually groups of white settlers who claim Indigenous identities despite an utter lack of Abenaki ancestry.
The actual Abenaki - with reserves in Quebec, Canada and citizens throughout the region - were not allowed to address the legislature when the Vermont state recognition process was being considered. As a result, the state recognition process does not take into account genealogical records or sustained community relationships over time and is essentially based on self-identification. The Abenaki First Nations of Odanak and Wolinak have been speaking out for a long time about this identity theft and cultural erasure.
If Ben and Jerry's or anyone else in Vermont wants to give land back to Indigenous people, that's great. But in order for that to be sincere, they shouldn't start with a tweet, but by reaching out to the Abenaki First Nations of Odanak and Wolinak, not the fraudulent "tribes" recognized by the state of Vermont.
Thank you for your consideration, Irene Rojas-Carroll