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Exploring & Sharing the Wabanaki History of Interior New England
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Ne-Do-Ba's 2nd Response to the Blog
The Reinvention of the Vermont Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK 

Last Updated 23-Nov-2009

Our Response to Charles True's Letter posted at
Abenaki Pride Setting The Record Straight  OFF-SITE LINK 
& Howard Knight's Verbal Assault on Douglas and Others at
Reinvention of the Vermont Abenaki  OFF-SITE LINK 

Genealogy is about learning who we are and it is about family. When someone solves a family mystery they should be proud of their work and they should be glad to share it with all their relations. Keeping it secret from others because you put your own time and money into solving the mystery is not the way TRUE Abenaki People treat the situation. In practice, I have found it is quite the opposite - as it should be. They are proud of what they uncover and proud to share it with not only their relations but with the world. They want to discover distant cousins and welcome them into the community.

A wonderful case in point is the Lagrave and Wasamimet families which originate genealogically at Odanak in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Most descendants are found in New York State today, but a number are found as far away as the West Coast. Over the years a number of individuals have worked on their family genealogy - some spending years and large sums of money while others just getting started in their family history. Ne-do-Ba has had the honor of helping to bring these researchers together and assist them in assembling the many pieces of their family puzzle. Working together and sharing has allowed us to build a beautiful picture of the family before and after it "hid in plain sight". These Abenaki descendants have made their valuable research available in hopes of helping others. If these family researchers had not been willing to openly share their research they may never have solved the mysteries created when these families left the reserve, crossed the border, and changed their surnames.

For those who declare the Vermont Abenaki can not document their heritage because of this "hiding in plain sight" excuse - I say go public with what you know so your relations and the general public can help you root out the elusive proof of your heritage. You will be amazed at how helpful and generous the genealogists of the world can be. It does not always work and it sometimes takes years, but it frequently produces amazing results. I am certain you don't stand a chance of solving your family mysteries until you at least make an honest attempt to do so.

Any "Sacred Trust" we have with our ancestors is a personal and spiritual connection between each individual and their specific ancestors. How can there be a tribal or universal rule preventing us from sharing the details of our heritage? Our Abenaki ancestors were all about family and community, about sharing everything belonging to the community and family with all other members of the community or family and they were all about keeping the knowledge of their ancestors alive. How can it be dishonorable to honor our ancestors by uncovering their true identities and sharing our knowledge of them with the rest of our family and community?

For those who say they don't need a document to tell them who they are - I AGREE, APPLAUD, AND ADMIRE YOU. What you do with your life, what you call yourself, and how you see your heritage is your business and no one else - as long as you do not demand the public recognize you as "Chief", "Elder", "Medicine Man", etc. and as long as you don't expect the government to recognize you and provide you with special benefits. However, as soon as you "go public" these things become open to the public and that public most certainly has a right and responsibility to question you on it. When I say "go public" I am talking about those who demand public and government recognition of a heritage they have not documented or are not willing to share.

I am also talking about those of you who PUBLICLY spread false or unsubstantiated information concerning Native history, culture, tradition, and genealogy. When you make public statements that such and such is the "way of the Abenaki" and you expect the public to honor that way - well, you better be willing to back it up with proof you are who you say you are or with historical documentation to support your position. Throughout all of human history there have been those who are willing to take advantage of others. When we don't ask questions we run the risk of being taken advantage of and have no one but ourselves to blame if it happens. I encourage you all to ask lots of questions before accepting anyone into your life who claims to KNOW Wabanaki laws, customs, and traditions, or who openly wear titles such of "chief", "elder", "spiritual advisor", "medicine man" or a host of other currently fashionable nomenclature. It has been my experience that a true spiritual elder never makes claim to such titles. I am of course not speaking of those true Wabanaki People who are members of historically documented communities such as Odanak or the Penobscot Nation - their membership in historical communities is their proof!

Concerns about someone hijacking a genealogy and falsely linking their family to another are unfounded if these non-profit "band" organizations really do have a trained genealogist reviewing all requests for membership. They should be requiring certified copies of birth, death, and marriage records back to specific historical Abenaki families of the 17th, 18th or 19th Centuries just like any other heritage based society (Penobscot Nation, Odanak Abenaki, Mashantucket Pequot, Mayflower Society, DAR, etc. all have stringent standards that must be met before membership is granted). If these non-profit "band" organizations are not performing this level of proof then the public has a responsibility to call them on it before giving them any level of public or government recognition.

[Speaking of the Mashantucket Pequot, I want to clarify some prior comments by myself and others concerning their recognition process. It has come to my attention this group did require State and Federal leniency before it could be recognized as a tribe. It could not prove all of the items the BIA requires for recognition. However, the genealogy was never an issue in question. Everyone involved can prove genealogically they are descendants of families that historically lived on the official tribal reservation or from families that were historically documented as Pequot in other ways. The modern day Abenaki People of Vermont and New Hampshire should expected to produce the same level documentation before they receive any form of recognition.]

How can someone claim it is illegal for a person to post another person's genealogy information? Those that are claiming it is a Federal Crime to post another person's generalogy are not backing up their claims by citing the relevant laws. And even more telling, they are not filing lawsuits or getting injunctions against Salmon to cease and desist.

Don't take my word for it - Google it for yourself! Try something like "genealogy privacy legality". I found this statement at http://www.genealogy.com/14_cpyrt.html under the heading "You, Genealogy, and Copyright"

"... the basic facts about your ancestor's life (such as name, birth date and place, marriage partner, date, and place, and death date and place) do not receive copyright protection, no matter their source. Whether you went to the county courthouse, rented a microfilm of the relavant records, or found the data in a commercial CD-ROM, the basic facts of a person's life may be freely copied; they are in the public domain."

And here http://privacyrights.org/fs/fs18a-OnlPvcyFAQ.htm under question 13.

"Is there a law prohibiting the posting of vital statistics (such as birth, place of birth, place of death) of living or deceased people on genealogy Web sites?"

"No. Most of this information comes from birth and death certificates, which are public documents. ... Unless the record is sealed or made confidential when it is created (not always an option), it will be useable in its entirety for genealogy research and for sale on the internet."

Posting of genealogies online does not require permission from anyone as long as the records are public to begin with. Birth, death, and marriage records are public records. I personally don't like seeing information about individuals who are still living posted online, but I completely understand why Salmon is doing so - it is a neccessary piece of information required to show these folks are not who they say they are. For those claiming he is falsifying these records, I challenge them to provide a certified copy of the correct record. He has stated over and over that he will retract any statement he has made if anyone can provide historical documentation to refute it. It seems to me to be a simply case of put up or shut up.

The majority of these "band" organizations have established themselves as non-profit organizations. As such they are subject to government and public scrutiny. Any of the organizations that have the additional 501(c)3 IRS status fall under even more stringent guidelines. A 501(c)3 is by IRS definition a "Public Charity" (a charity supported by Public donations and grants - and again - don't take my word for it - google it!) and therefore the public has a right and obligation to made sure the public's charitable contributions and grants are being used to forefill the organization's publically stated mission and nothing more.

I want to point out that we have received a couple of well written statements of opinion concerning this controversy, but most responses just resort to name calling and making unsubstanciated claims without providing anything of subtance to the issues at hand. We commend those few individuals for providing clear and valid but differing points of view and not embarassing themselves by resorting to negative rhetoric, name calling, etc.. You have honored yourselves and your ancestors by stating your opinions in a reasonable and rational manner. We may not agree with you but we respect you and your right to have differing opinions on the subject. Thank you for contributing in a positive way.

Thank You for your time
Nancy Lecompte
Research & Education Director for Ne-Do-Ba

Ne-Do-Ba Comment - - - And now, I believe I have said enough on this issue and will kindly bow out of any future comment on this topic.

A Double Curve Graphic

OK - One more quick comment in reply to Jeanne Kent's most recent correspondence (Nov. 20, 2009 - which she is not willing to have appear in public postings!) - We stated right up front that we do not agree with Douglas' methods. His methods are not the issue Ne-Do-Ba is responding to. We are against publicly promoting an Abenaki history and genealogy which has not been properly researched and historically documented. Douglas is publicly exposing the people and organizations that have been leading the public and the government astray concerning the Abenaki history of interior New England. Ne-Do-Ba (and myself) support the need for this public exposure to occur, but that should not be interpreted as approving his specific methods.

Ne-Do-Ba received comments from folks about our original response that were polite, articulate, and worthy of listening to and we felt obligated to address some of the issues these folks brought up, but it appears to have gotten us a bit off the track, which is why we have decided not to address any additional correspondence.

And - I'm sorry but you folks know where Douglas lives - if you have historical documentation showing what he is posting is inaccurate, well, mail it to him! I know most of you folks are old enough to remember how the U.S. Postal Service works. Being blocked from his e-mail account is a pretty lame excuse for not correcting any real errors. I am not talking about the nit-picky little things on the blog - the only thing that we at Ne-Do-Ba are addressing is the issue of historical accuracy. If Douglas is posting genealogical documents or Abenaki history that has been "doctored" or falsified as he is being accused of by some - provide documentary proof of the error to Ne-Do-Ba and I (Nancy Lecompte) will personally attempt to address the problem with him. We have always found Douglas to be an honest person and talented researcher and we believe he will do the right thing. BUT TAKE SERIOUS NOTE - I am talking about GENEALOGICAL INFORMATION ONLY. Ne-Do-Ba will not address the dynamics of what Douglas is saying about any specific living person or modern organization.

And Now I promise I am really done commenting on the matter.

P.S. Shortly after posting this latest commentary, Ne-Do-Ba received valid documentation to prove an error had been made by Douglas. We discussed the issue with him and after reviewing the problem he made an immediate correction on his blog. There was no fraud committed by Douglas, just an honest error concerning which of 2 husbands was the person's ancestor and this has now been corrected. The corrected information does not appear to invalidate the point he was making at that time.

A Double Curve Graphic

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