Forward to Nulhegan Band
I am writing this to explain
what happened and to take out the myths that the members of the Nulhegan band
seems to want people to believe. This writing is the truth as I see it from
being Chief Spirit Water of the Clan of The Hawk of Evansville Vermont. A lot
of bad words have been said about the chief and about the members of the Clan
of The Hawk. I hope this helps to explain the way things really happened.
Nulhegan Band Part One
It all started with the Clan
of The Hawk. Nancy Rolls was clan secretary. She had taken out all files
pertaining to the membership of the clan to work on them. Then, with the help
of another member she had copied all of the clan’s information. They were planning to leave the Clan of The Hawk to start their
own group where they could be the chiefs. So they took all this information to
help fill the rolls of their own band.
Apparently it was here that jealousy
came into play; I don’t know what else it could have been. Our group had been growing in these parts, and others
wanted to be in charge and could not do so as long as I, Chief Spirit Water of
the long-standing Clan of The Hawk was in charge. I would have gladly helped
these groups to set up a new clan if they had shared their desire to do so.
They did not have to lie, cheat and steal to do it. I have always looked out
for the good of all Native Americans; if they wanted to branch out the right
way, it could have been good for all local Natives.
All the members of the beginning
of the Nulhegan band came out of the Clan of The Hawk, an Abenaki band of
long-standing in Evansville, Vermont. In its early days, The Clan of The Hawk was helped
to set up by Chief Walter Watso of the Odanak Band in Canada, by Grand Ambassador Darrell Larocque who came to
our group several times, and by Chief Howard Knight. The Clan of The Hawk
quickly grew to a large band of Native Americans led from the beginning by Chief
Spirit Water. It was a growing group of Abenaki Native Americans and it had a
presence in the state. It held regular meetings, offered classes, created a
website and offered membership to all Native Americans.
Well it is true; we miss a
lot of good members who left the Clan of The Hawk to join the Nulhegan Band. Most
of them never even asked to leave the clan, let alone notified me.
A lot of them had helped in
many ways while they were members of the Clan of The Hawk. Luke Willard had
helped build our Museum and did a good job in doing so; the Girards had been
members since the clan had started and are very much missed. Despite these
losses, the Clan of The Hawk did keep moving on; new members came in all the
It’s just such a shame that
the Nulhegan band took to be so miserable to the chief of the Clan of The Hawk.
Their proclaiming that they had been around as the only group in the kingdom
when they had just started their group was so odd to me. The Nulhegan band and those
of its members who had been part of the Clan of The Hawk seem to just have a
big hate for the Clan of The Hawk or maybe just for its Chief, Spirit Water.
It seems so strange that all
Indian groups proclaim that they want peace and unity with other groups when
they seem to do just the opposite. They all ‘talk the talk,’ but few of them
ever “walk the walk.’ The Clan of The Hawk has held out the hand of friendship
to all other groups in Vermont,
only to be turned down most every time.
I am not boasting when I say
these things; I am simply trying to set down some of the facts. I have succeeded
for twenty-five years in keeping a Native group together and focused on the Native Ways. I have done this with a lot of teaching and sharing
what I have learned and by heading up many get-togethers over the years. I felt
that these things were important to preserve the memory of ancestors, to
preserve the language, to secure friendships among local Native Americans and
to pass this heritage on to our children. I felt that the big annual gathering
and the many smaller gatherings and teaching days that we provided were very
important to keep our group together. The more variety and opportunity people
had to learn about and express their heritage, the stronger the Clan would be.
The Nulhegan band seems to
have seen many changes over the years with a leadership that wants to claim
they are the only natives in Vermont. I would think it would be hard to keep such a group
focused on their Native ways, and that should be the main focus of any Native
American group, not the haggling over who was first or who has “State
I for one, and on behalf of
the Clan of The Hawk am very tired of hearing about the Nulhegan Band being “the
oldest and only” band in Vermont.
(Note – Put the preceding paragraph
here?) With the so-called “Gang of Four” they have ruined any chance of help
from the state through the Vermont Native American Commission; the community
has become a fake to most natives in Vermont and the Vermont State Commission on Native American
affairs seems to be just a closed group to other natives.
Nathan Pero and his group
found out they had no chance at becoming recognized by the state commission and
every roadblock possible was thrown in their way. I hate to think what would
happen if the Clan of The Hawk ever
tried to be recognized tribe, although the clan has complete records going back
to the late 1980s. We can prove all this to anyone who wants to see our
scrapbooks and clan records with pictures, newspaper coverage, financial
records and more. There is plenty of proof of their existence.
I think that the Clan of The
Hawk has the most complete records with the exception of the Missisquoi Band in
Swanton, now led by Lawrence Moose Lampman who does not seem to be interested
in the Vermont Native American commission or some of its members. This band
does have records going back hundreds of years and is at this time. They are friends
of the Clan of The Hawk; we are very thankful to have such great friends.
We sure do not seem to have
any friends from the so-called Nulhegan band led at this time by Chief Don
Stephens, who does not even live in the area. It is too bad because we could at
least speak with each other. The door is always open as they say. If they
wanted to open a communication with us, we are willing.
The Clan of The Hawk has
done its best, along with Chief Spirit Water to stay as far from the political
arena as we could, especially concerning state politics. The Clan of the Hawk
has heard lot of bad, very bad statements made about it by a lot of people who can’t
seem to see things the way we do at the Clan of The Hawk. Lots of different members have come and gone,
sometimes because of the fact that I kept the affairs of the clan within the
clan. It seems that some of them that left because of jealousy; yet some left
because of others in the clan causing trouble for them. It’s too bad that so
many personality clashes came to bear in the Clan of The Hawk. I tried my best
to mediate these differences. Often it did not seem to do much good. There are
only so many bruised feelings that can be healed.
As I have said, I definitely
miss a lot of these members that left the clan. They were good, solid members,
but they never seem to want to come back to the clan. I have let them know that
they are always welcome to return – as visitors, friends or members. I feel
that somehow I have failed; yet how I do not know. I guess just being chief has
done me in on this. It is too bad, but I for now, all I can do is look back at
all the good times we’ve had in the past and all the great who have taken part
in the clan.
Well, we have held the Clan
of The Hawk together for over two and a half decades, a whole generation,
throughout its ups and downs. These other groups seem to disappear over the
years, so we must be doing something right or we would’ve disappeared also. It
takes a good strong man to be a chief over that many years and to face all the
discouragement that goes with being a chief and still keep going and
encouraging others to keep going too. I know I have tried to do the best job possible.
Chief Spirit Water (aka Ralph Swett)