Saturday, October 8, 2016

Vermont Celebrates Indigenous People's Day

Indigenous People's Day will be observed in Vermont in lieu of Columbus Day this year.
"Now therefore, I, Peter Shumlin, as Governor of the State of Vermont, do hereby proclaim Oct. 10, 2016, as Indigenous People's Day in Vermont, and on this day traditionally observed as Columbus Day encourage all Vermonters to recognize the sacrifice and contributions of this land," stated a proclamation, signed by Shumlin on Thursday, acknowledging that the Green Mountain State was founded and built upon lands first inhabited by indigenous people, "the Abenaki and their ancestors and allies." 
Vermont is joining other states and towns around the United States in recognizing the second Monday of October as Indigenous People's Day and "re-imagining Columbus Day as an opportunity to celebrate indigenous heritage and resiliency," according to the proclamation.
Columbus Day has been celebrated on the second Monday of October for the last 82 years. Like many towns, Cavendish’s town office and schools will be closed.  However, there is a growing movement to abolish the holiday, replacing it with  “Indigenous People’s Day,” thereby acknowledging and celebrating the millions of people who were already living in the Americas when Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean islands (Bahamas) on Oct. 12, 1492. While Columbus made four trips to the “new world,” exploring the Caribbean Islands, the Gulf of Mexico and the South and Central American main land, he never set foot on North America.

Who were the first peoples of Cavendish and where did they come from? What is known is that more than 11,000 years ago, after the ice age ended and the glaciers started receding, Paleo-Indian were in the Okemo Valley (Jackson Gore). Located between Lake Champlain (at one time the Sea of Champlain) and the Connecticut River, Cavendish was part of the Indian road that connected these two points. Archeological evidence indicates that there may have been an Archaic Indian village in Cavendish-dating back about 5,000 years. Learn more about Vermont’s First People.

For a long time it was believed that the first Americans came across the Bering Strait land bridge from Asia approximately 15,000 years ago using an “ice-free corridor.” However, two new studies refute that. In July, the journal Nature published Postglacial Viability and Colonization in North America’s Ice-Free Corridor, which shows that the corridor was incapable of sustaining human life until about 12,600 years ago. A second study, “Bison Phylogeography Constrains Dispersal and Viability of the Ice Free Corridor in Western Canada,” published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, estimates it closer to 13,000 years ago. Either way, the Americas were already settled by the time the land bridge would have been accessible for crossing. In fact, there is new evidence that there was human occupation in Florida 14,550 years ago. (Science Mag

So how were the Americas populated? One theory is that the Indians migrated in boats down along the Pacific coast about 15,000 years ago. Regardless of what DNA and archeological research finds, what is clear is that Columbus did not “discover America.”

Interestingly, 269 years after Columbus landed in the Caribbean, on October 12, 1761 the charter for Cavendish was issued by New Hampshire and signed by King George III. While Cavendish celebrates its 255th birthday this year, keep in mind that this land has been occupied for thousands of years and that our “first people” were not the Coffeens.

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