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Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Vermont #TRC starting from scratch

Ed. Note: Maine has its own TRC - more states to follow, we hope. Trace

Vermont now has a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. 'It’s a huge task.'

Dark curtains obscure a view out a window of a building covered in snow.
Elodie Reed /Vermont Public
 
Vermont’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has officially started its work with the announcement of its first three staff: Mia Schultz, Melody Walker Mackin and Patrick Standen.

A state-funded effort has begun to document how Vermont state laws and policies have discriminated against marginalized communities, including people with disabilities, Black people, Indigenous people, other people of color and people of French Canadian heritage.

It came out of legislation passed last year that created a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to seek ways to repair harm caused by the state of Vermont.

In a press conference, a selection panel announced the commissioners who will lead the effort over the next three years as full-time state employees:

The new commissioners stressed their roles include making policy recommendations, as well as hearing experiences of communities who suffered injustices.

“We know this is not about what has just happened in the past,” Schultz said. “This is about how that past continues and is perpetuated in our present, and how we’ll learn from it, and eradicate it in our future.”

They’ll have an annual budget of almost $750,000, and will hire an executive director and other researchers.

“First, we're tasked with starting an office — there’s nothing like this that’s been done before,” Schultz said. “We are starting from scratch.”

"It's a huge task," Melody Walker Mackin said.

A commission with more limited scope was created in Maine to document the state's child welfare practice with Wabanaki people, and Burlington City Council created a Reparations Task Force in 2020, but the new commissioners said they're not familiar with any mandate that's so broad in scope.

"While it may look overwhelming, it's essential that all voices by heard," Standen said. "The resources that are provided by the state at this point seem to be ample and welcomed."

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Why tribes do not recommend the DNA swab

Rebecca Tallbear entitled: “DNA, Blood, and Racializing the Tribe”, bearing out what I only inferred:

Detailed discussion of the Bering Strait theory and other scientific theories about the population of the modern-day Americas is beyond the scope of this essay. However, it should be noted that Indian people have expressed suspicion that DNA analysis is a tool that scientists will use to support theories about the origins of tribal people that contradict tribal oral histories and origin stories. Perhaps more important,the alternative origin stories of scientists are seen as intending to weaken tribal land and other legal claims (and even diminish a history of colonialism?) that are supported in U.S. federal and tribal law. As genetic evidence has already been used to resolve land conflicts in Asian and Eastern European countries, this is not an unfounded fear.

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