Donovan secures coveted endorsement from archaeologists

With only about three weeks until primary day, everyone has been on pins and needles awaiting candidate endorsements from …. theVermont Professional Archaeologists Association?

Turns out the executive board of this small trade group likes to swim in political waters. TJ Donovan is their man in the AG primary, and they had some pretty harsh words for Bill Sorrell.

Specifically, the archaeologists took issue with Sorrell’s opposition to federal recognition for the Abenaki.  

“It is inconceivable that Mr. Sorrell would fight against Abenaki recognition, yet he did,” VPAA Chairman Andrew Beupre said in a press release. “Given the undisputed fact that Vermont’s Native American community suffered a systematic program of state sponsored forced sterilization during much of the last century, not to mention 400 years of conquest and near genocide, we find in unforgivable for a public official to take a stand against contemporary Abenaki recognition and the basic dignity that such would impart upon a community.”

Sorrell said he has a strong record on civil rights, and that federal guidelines are to blame for the Abenakis’ plight, not him.

“I just followed the law,” Sorrell said Sunday. “You have to meet the requirements of federal law to receive the benefits of federal recognition, and quite simply the group seeking recognition did not meet those criteria.”

Peter Shumlin and Vince Illuzzi won nods from the VPAA in their races for governor and auditor, respectively.

Beupre said he realizes that archaeologists might not seem like a significant voting bloc, but that members of the profession decided to get involved politically a few years ago to voice their disdain for the Act 250 revisions sought by former Gov. James Douglas.

“They were going to seriously affect the ability of the state ofVermontto preserve its archaeological resources,” Beupre said. “We were concerned about mothballing and sideliningVermont’s history.”

The association’s membership numbers in the low dozens, and, according to Beupre, “we don’t raise money and we don’t donate money.”

But the group will be sending it’s slate of endorsements to its email list – which includes groups like historical societies – to encourage them to vote for the candidates.

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