The Clan of The Hawk
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My explanation of the Nulhegan Band and it's relationship to me and the Clan of the Hawk - by Chief Spiritwater 

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.

Chapter 2

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 time.

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 Recognition.”

Chapter 3

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)