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To The Editor:
I was pleased to march at the May 1 Put People and the Planet First rally in Montpelier. This event, organized largely by the Vermont Workers Center, sought to build a united movement of movements in the Green Mountains. Despite a hard morning rain, the event made history by being the largest weekday rally in the history of our state capital. All told, 2,000 Vermonters attended in order to demand that Montpelier put people's needs and our environment ahead of corporate greed!
Speakers, representing diverse constituencies, encouraged support of the right of all Vermonters to healthcare, the right of daycare providers to unionize, the right of migrant farm workers to live without fear, and the right of the people to live in a society which places value on the health of our environment.
Also speaking at the rally, for the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe and the Vermont Sierra Club, was Luke Willard. It addition to stating support for the creation of new conservation-oriented town forests, Willard called on Vermont to work with the Abenaki tribes in order to establish new Abenaki forests. Willard pointed out that by creating such forests Vermont could further our goal of building wildlife migration corridors, while at the same time creating the means by which the Abenaki can provide for their tribal members.
The creation of tribal forests will allow the Abenaki people, who are demographically the most impoverished in the state, to generate tribal revenue and jobs through sustainable forestry and sugaring. Creating tribal forests will be a firm step in righting the wrong of history, whereby our Native American people faced hundreds of years of oppression, genocide, state-sponsored eugenics programs.
I applaud Willard for bringing this proposal to the public, and am happy to confirm that the Vermont Sierra Club agrees with the Abenaki and looks forward to working with them and our governor to see this through.
David Van Deusen