Upholding Indigenous Rights

As Vermonters, we take pride in calling this state home. We must also acknowledge that we live on N’dakinna, the unceded territory of the Abenaki people who have stewarded this land for centuries. For too long, this country has ignored our history of erasure and injustice against the Indigenous Peoples of this land.

Repairing the harm caused to Indigenous communities in Vermont begins with recognition. In 2011, I first worked with Indigenous leaders to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. After a decade of dedicated action, Indigenous Peoples’ Day is now recognized as a Vermont state holiday. We must also work to advance federal recognition of many Indigenous tribes and nations, including the Missisquoi Abenaki.

Finally, as we work towards developing climate action plans across Vermont, we must center the voices of Indigenous Vermonters. Specifically, I will work to ensure that our environmental justice policies provide Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. That is the right of Indigenous Peoples to give or withhold consent for various projects that affect their territory as described in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Together, native or newcomer, we can honor our land and protect the rights of the people who live on it.

In the State Senate, I will work side by side with activists and allies to ensure that Indigenous voices remain at the center of environmental action and that Indigenous communities finally receive the federal recognition they deserve.

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