Sunday, February 13, 2011

Watso Family Historic Photo's

Dear Readers,
I have a link to share of a Abenaki historic family photo.

My Great Aunt Doris Dauphinais. I remember my great Aunt Doris coming to visit our family when we lived in Albany, New York. I was just a child and I remember her having a great time with my father Frederick Watso, who was making her laugh.

Dad was telling Aunt Doris tales of dealing with the unforgivable sun while working on the roofs' of Albany neighborhood residential homes for Alco Roofing. Abenaki families having a beer and enjoying the visit of familiar faces.

More to come...


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Looking back on the life and times of John Mitchell, Abenaki of Indian Lake, NY

Dear Readers,

The article below is a great addition to the history of the Adirondack's and highlights our Abenaki family connections to the mountains and lakes north of Albany. 

Written By Christopher Roy & David Benedict
June 27, 2009

BLUE MOUNTAIN LAKE — Some years ago, visits with the late John Fish at the Indian Lake Museum left us wondering about the life and family of his Abenaki grandfather, John Mitchell. Visits with Town Historian Bill Zullo and with the late Warder Cadbury piqued our curiosities even more.

Old stories about the origins of the Mitchells seemed to contradict themselves, and their cousins, the Camps (particularly Emma Camp Mead), garnered more attention from local historians over the years and were better represented in the displays at the Indian Lake Museum. We knew that the Mitchells and the Camps were descendants of Sabael Benedict, but wanted to learn more. In the following paragraphs, we would like to share some of the results of our research.

Click on link to go to Full article

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

1860 “A Sketch of the Early History of Ferrisburg.” Vermont Quarterly Gazeteer

Dear Readers,
I was compelled to post this article of my grandfathers, grandfather, John "Jean Baptiste" Watso naming of the Champlain Valley in the Abenaki language, enjoy the beauty: 

Robinson, R.E. 1860. “A Sketch of the Early History of Ferrisburg.” Vermont Quarterly Gazeteer, Abby Maria Hemenway, ed. 1:31-35.

From pages 31-32:
            If the traditions of the St. Francois Indians are to be relied on, the eastern shore of Lake Champlain was anciently inhabited by the Zoquageers, a subdivision of the great Abenakee tribe or nation which once occupied the northern part of New England.  By the forays of their enemies, the warlike Iroquois, and the encroachment of the whites, the Zoquageers were gradually driven from Vermont, and their last village of consequence within its limits, was on Missisque Bay, in the present town of Alburgh.  They had, for the most part, removed before the Revolution to the St. Francois River, in Canada, where the survivors of this once powerful tribe now live, commonly known as the St. Francois Indians, though they style themselves as of old, Zoquageers and Abenakees, or as they pronunce it, Wau-ban-a-kees.  Their names of rivers in Ferrisburgh were, of Great Otter Creek, Pecunk-tuk, or the Crooked River; of Little Otter, Wonakake-tuk, [accents in original] or the River of Otters; and of Lewis Creek, Sungahnee-tuk, or the Fishing Place.*  Lake Champlain they called Pe-tou-bouque.+

* This was told to me by John Watso, or Wadhso, an intelligent Indian of St. Francois.  He also gave the names of some other rivers of the Champlain Valley.  Azzasataquake was their name for the Missisque River, signifying, The stream that turns back. [Missisque is a corruption of Masseepsque, The place of arrow flints; and applies only to the bay of that name.]  The Au Sable was known as Popoquamanee-tuk, The Cranberry River, and Saranac is corrupted from Senhalenac-tuk, The river of sumac-trees.  The dried leaves of the sumac were used by them for smoking, and hence the tree was of sufficient importance to give a name to the stream where it grew in abundance.
+ Watso’s definition of this word is, “The waters that lie between;” that is, between the countries of the Abenakees and Iroquois.  Others of the tribe with whom I have conversed interpreted this name otherwise, but cannot give an intelligible translation of it.

Monday, February 7, 2011


Email by Denise L. Watso of February 7th, 2011
Good Evening;

This email is directed to reporters in Vermont, whom I am asking to provide our Abenaki people the opportunity for a fair and equitable account of the State Recognition process unfolding in Vermont today. The greatest injustice ever NOT recorded in the history of the Abenaki people is being ignored by reporters who are too busy to investigate the facts and allow our Abenaki brothers and sisters the dignity of telling our side of the story, the historically known Abenaki who oppose the State Recognition of non-Indians, who have been allowed in the newspapers and blogs of Vermont to misrepresent the facts about who we are to the citizens of Vermont. We all deserve better.

I have sent press releases with facts, our opposition, and explanations, to no avail. The reporters of Vermont can and should do more of an investigation and should not be significantly influenced by these groups. Many promises made to us have been broken during our opposing State Recognition. Many ethical issues and conflicts of interest have not been questioned and are being overlooked by reporters too busy to report the issues clouding the State Recognition process.

I know the National dilemma facing newspapers and journalists today, but this does not excuse leaving our opposition ignored and unreported to the citizens of Vermont and allowing us to be shut out of the opportunity to represent our side. The issue in Vermont will have a permanent impact forever to our people, who have lived in the “U.S.” since time immemorial. Please give us the respect we deserve, to represent ourselves and stand up for our ancestors, therefore please dedicate more investigation and an opposing view to be expressed.

Promises have been broken, some actually denying us our basic Civil Rights and the legislature has not been in compliance with several articles of the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I append just a few of the violations below for your reference:

Article 2
Indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to all other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular that based on their indigenous origin or identity.
Article 4
Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and strengthen their distinct political, legal, economic, social and cultural institutions, while retaining their rights to participate fully, if they so choose, in the political, economic, social and cultural life of the State.
Article 7
1. Indigenous peoples and individuals have the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or destruction of their culture.
2. States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
(a) Any action which has the aim or effect of depriving them of their integrity as distinct peoples, or of their cultural values or ethnic identities;
(b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources;
(c) Any form of forced population transfer which has the aim or effect of violating or undermining any of their rights;
(d) Any form of forced assimilation or integration by other cultures or ways of life imposed on them by legislative, administrative or other measures;
(e) Any form of propaganda designed to promote or incite racial or ethnic discrimination directed against them.


Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society's principles and standards of practice.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Honorable Words for Ernest Kaientaronkwen Benedict: (1918-2011) “Akwesasne’s Conscience”

The passing of Mohawk elder, Ernest Kaientaronkwen Benedict as written by Doug George-Kanentiio

News From Indian Country Febuary 2011

Obituary for Passing of Ernest Kaientaronkwen Benedict (1918-2011)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Abenaki Nation - Cherokee Nation Similiar Issues of State Recognition

The Cherokee Nation was successful in their quest to expose fraudulent groups claiming to be relatives of the Cherokee people. An excellent video on YouTube below about educating ALL people and the National Aboriginal rights issue of State's attempt to grant recognition to groups lobbying States to "become Indian".

Our Abenaki families are under going similar, if not the exact same issues as the Cherokee Nation with groups claiming to be Abenaki "Tribes", therefore, our family members in our original territories, Vermont.

The self-declared Abenaki, groups in Vermont are attempting to get in the back door of the State of Vermont and New Hampshire for recognition, because to go in the front door, they would be denied, as was the case with the most established group in Vermont, the St. Francis/Sokoki. The other groups have been in existence only recently, and are considered by the Federal government to be splinter groups of the St. Francis/Sokoki, and therefore would be designated as such, and denied.

The St Francis/Sokoki, after providing the Federal government the documentation requested, were denied Federal Recognition. The evidence was not sufficient, an extremely "weak petition and rare that the group should fail the most basic criteria, being Indian", as relayed by an NARF attorney familiar with the petition at time of submittal.

Please read the petition and related material of the St.Francis/Sokoki from the Bureau of Indian Affairs:

Weak State laws and even weaker criteria for what constitutes evidence for being Indian is being eroded by ill-informed and ill-equipped State lawmakers Nationally and now in Vermont and New Hampshire. Please watch the excellent video by the proactive Cherokee Nation.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


February 3, 2011

Will the Vermont legislature extend state recognition to applicants with no proof of Abenaki ancestry (or any Native American ancestry) whatsoever?

Vermont Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 23, Section 853 (c) (2) requires that applicants submit genealogical documents which "show a descendency from identified Vermont or regional native people," but also allows for the "submission of letters, statements, and documents" from other groups, agencies, and governments to "supplement" criteria such as 853 (c) (2).  How could the Vermont legislature allow such a loophole to be written into its legislation?  After all, the most controversial claim made by groups applying for recognition is that they are Abenaki.  According to the Vermont legislature, they don't have to offer any proof of that assertion.

Regardless, whatever documentation they do submit is not available for public review.  In a last-minute amendment last year, the Vermont Senate decided to remove transparency from the process.  Why are they afraid of public scrutiny?  Doesn't Vermont deserve better?  Don't the state's true indigenous people deserve better?

The Vermont legislature seems intent on giving "state recognition" to non-native people, at the expense of historically-known Abenaki people whose homeland has included the Connecticut River Valley, the Champlain Valley, the Green Mountains, and the shores of Lake Memphramagog since time immemorial.  And apparently, they plan to do it with loopholes and secrecy.

Please contact your Vermont legislators and demand that they reject pending applications for state recognition under this reprehensible law.  Vermont's leaders should sit down with real Abenaki people to build a new relationship based on respect, transparency and justice for all.


February 2, 2011

On January 25, 2011, Sen. Vince Illuzzi invited elected leaders; Councilor Jacques Thériault Watso and Alain O'Bomsawin, representatives of the Abenaki people, and Richard Bernier, Denise Watso to testify before the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs regarding S.10 and S.11.  These bills would extend official state recognition to two applicant organizations who claim to be Abenaki, a position which is NOT supported by the evidence.

On January 31, 2011, the Senate Committee on Economic Development, Housing & General Affairs informed Mr. Bernier that it had rescinded its invitation - only Vermont residents would be allowed to provide "direct oral testimony."

This attempt to silence the Abenaki people is in direct opposition to Abenaki history and to our aboriginal rights.  Some of us have our primary residence in Vermont, and many others live in Quebec, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and elsewhere.  However, Vermont has been part of our homeland for thousands of years.  We will not abandon our nationhood - something much larger than one state - because legislators are scared to hear from the true indigenous people of the Champlain Valley, the Green Mountains, the Connecticut River and the shores of Lake Memphramagog.

What are they so afraid of?  Why must they attempt to silence our voices, and deny us our aboriginal, civil, and human rights?  Why can't they look us in the eyes and hear our voices as we speak in defense of the truth of Abenaki history and the need for justice and respect?  What are they so afraid of?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

50 Years Later: Watso Families Recieve Verranzano-Narrows Bridge Medal

Samuel Watso
About 20 Watso families traveled from Waterbury, CT; Albany, NY; Odanak Reserve, P.Q. Canada; Buffalo, NY; and Florida; to converge on a trip to New York City, September 24, 2010 to collect Ironworker Medals on behalf of four Watso men, two sets of first cousins, brothers - Samuel (Sammy) and Raymond; brothers - Thomas (Tommy) and William (Billy Joe) Watso. The four Watso men were Ironworkers (Skywalkers) on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, living in Brooklyn, NY (Little Kahnawake) in the 1960's, and Long Island.

Click here for College of Staten Island Archives, Verranzano-Narrows Bridge

There is one recipient left living today at Odanak Reserve, P.Q., Canada, Raymond Watso, who was instrumental in providing me the information necessary to continue the documentation trail for the requirements of the Ironworker Medals. Thank you Uncle Raymond!

Denise Watso; Denise (Watso) Paul; James Fortunato of MTA; Tommy Watso; Bonnie (Watso) Porter; June (Watso)Wolfe
All of the 4 Watso men were represented and honored by their son, daughter, sister and cousin standing tall some 50 years later.

Abenaki Nation Tribal members immediate families were in attendance as well as Anthropologist PhD candidate Christopher Roy, from Princeton University attending the ceremony. A trip was scheduled as well to take us to the American Indian Museum in Smithsonian, in NYC to view historical documents and hear from our own Watso family historian and respected elder, June Watso-Wolfe.

I am proud to have finalized a chapter in the lives of the men and women who had the courage, determination and dedication to take all the risks of leaving family, and a small village reservation to venture to New York City, some 500 miles away south and climb steel to provide for their families back home.

A special thank you to all who made the trip worth while, and especially Tom and Holly who had a houseful and didn't hesitate to say yes to 10 people staying for the weekend! The MTA, Bridges and Tunnels, and the College of Staten Island! 

Front of Medal

Back of the medal