On July 15, 2020

Vermont recognizes Abenakis’ historic claim by extending free hunting, fishing

The Vermont Legislature passed and the governor signed into law H.716, which will add citizens of Vermont’s state-recognized Native American Indian Tribes to the list of those eligible for a free permanent license from Vermont’s Fish and Wildlife Department.

In February, Attorney General Donovan and Chief Stevens from the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation advocated for H.716 extending benefits to Native Peoples residing outside of Vermont. The new measure would also promote a much-needed influx of new sportspeople to Vermont’s hunting and fishing communities.

“The Abenaki have hunted and fished these lands for centuries,” said Donovan. “The Legislature is attempting to correct a historic wrong by passing a bill that will ensure Native Peoples have access to free hunting and fishing licenses in Vermont.”

“In this era of Social Justice Reform, I am pleased that Abenaki voices are being heard and considered,” said Chief Stevens. “I say wliwni (thank you) to all who support the Abenaki people. H.716 recognizes and reaffirms our ancient agreements with Europeans to always retain the rights to hunt and fish throughout our territories. Not only does this bill allow our citizens access to our natural food sources, honoring our agreements is the right thing to do. The Governor has publicly stated that he wishes to uplift minority populations, bring more people into Vermont woods, and to boost visitors to Vermont. This bill achieves all of these things while honoring the original stewards of this land.”

Governor Scott signed the bill into law on July 13.

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