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'Recognized': An update

A photo showing five people standing on a curved white balcony overlooking other people on the floor below who are clapping and looking at the five people. The people on the bottom floor are sitting or standing by curved wooden desks, and the carpet is bright gold and red swirls.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
From left, state-recognized tribe representatives Rich Holschuh, Linda Sheehan, Roger Sheehan, Don Stevens and Brenda Gagne receive applause from Vermont House lawmakers after being recognized by Craftsbury Rep. Katherine Sims on Tuesday, March 12, 2024.

Two Abenaki First Nations headquartered in Canada are contesting the legitimacy of Vermont’s state-recognized tribes. How are Vermont lawmakers responding?

Brave Little State is Vermont Public’s listener-driven journalism show. Last October, we published “Recognized”: a three-part investigation into contested claims that Vermont’s four state-recognized tribes are not legitimate. The First Nations making those claims continue to call on Vermont lawmakers to reconsider the state recognition process.

Reporter Elodie Reed followed up with lawmakers about how they’re responding to that request. She spoke with The Frequency host Mitch Wertlieb about her reporting. We’re sharing that update in your Brave Little State podcast feed this week.

You can find a full transcript of their conversation here.






This story was reported and produced by Elodie Reed, with help from Mitch Wertlieb. The Brave Little State team is Josh Crane, Burgess Brown and Sabine Poux. Angela Evancie is Brave Little State’s Executive Producer.

We’ll be back soon with more people-powered Vermont journalism. As always, our show is better when you’re a part of it:

Brave Little State is a production of Vermont Public and a proud member of the NPR Network.

Corrected: April 3, 2024 at 2:09 PM EDT
This story has been updated to more accurately reflect the response of Vermont's state-recognized tribes to scrutiny of the state recognition process. Additional context has also been added about genealogical documentation cited — but not made public — in state recognition applications.
Elodie is a reporter and producer for Vermont Public. She previously worked as a multimedia journalist at the Concord Monitor, the St. Albans Messenger and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, and she's freelanced for The Atlantic, the Christian Science Monitor, the Berkshire Eagle and the Bennington Banner. In 2019, she earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Southern New Hampshire University.
A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.