Letters to the Editor

UVM history event on Abenakis was disrespectful

Jul 3 2022, 6:05 AM

Thank you, Shaun Robinson, for your report May 1 on the UVM History Department event on Abenaki peoples. I did not attend that event, but I have read several commentaries since about it. 

I am not a Native American, but as a white person I find it painful to read about some Native peoples denying the validity of others' identity as Native people. I find it unfortunate that the University of Vermont has lent any veneer of respectability to this denial. It feels like the deep racism in which colonialists persist, enabling and perpetuating divisions and rancor. 

As a white Vermonter, I knew about the Odonak community in the 1990s. And I know Vermont Abenakis who are deeply hurting because of the attacks on them at the April event, and what this does to their community. 

Granted, white colonialism has had many damaging impacts on Native peoples in the Americas. Why not rejoice in the resurgence of Native culture, events, contributions and education? The Creator of All calls us to make peace. This world is far too small for resentments and antagonisms.

Sylvia Knight

Burlington