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Leaf Home arrow Tribal News VT arrow St. Francis/Sokoki Abenaki arrow Vt. school flies flag honoring Abenaki students
Vt. school flies flag honoring Abenaki students
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 22 November 2013
Vt. school flies flag honoring Abenaki students
Posted: Nov 21, 2013
By Elizabeth Keatinge

SWANTON, Vt. - The drumroll was a long time coming as student Mitchal Brent Shadrick raised the Abenaki Nation's flag for his classmates over Missisquoi Valley Union High School.

"It was a good feeling, really good feeling," Shadrick said.

The flag will fly over the Swanton school to acknowledge and celebrate their 30-percent Abenaki student population.

Such a public and permanent display of the tribal heritage may not have been possible years ago. Nation officials acknowledge a colorful past, including the questionable leadership of former Chief Homer St. Francis, who challenged authority and some say gave the tribe a bad reputation.

"I think all of that had to die down in a way, but it's more than that. There really has become an acceptance, an acceptance and a celebration," said Jeff Benay, the director of Indian Education for the Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union. Thursday, Abenaki students played a triumphant tune as the Circle of Courage students performed traditional drumming as students and administrators looked on. Part of the event helped officials promote educational opportunities now available. Just last year, Vermont recognized the tribe, which now makes students eligible for new scholarships.

Educators say flying the flag is not intended to make a political statement.

"This is really unrelated to that, this is really more connected to the kids that we have here," said Dennis Michael Hill, the principal at MVU.

For Shadrick and his classmates, they say that acknowledging how they got to this point makes the celebration that much better.

"Knowing that it's finally up there, that it took this long to get up there and now it's finally flying above MVU," Shadrick said.

But raising the flag wasn't just a one day event, the school plans to have the flag flying over MVU forever.

November is also Native American Appreciation Month.

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