Rabbi Debra Kolodny

Five dams along the Kwinitekw (CT River) in VT, NH, and MA are up for re-licensing – a process that occurs only once every 50 years. Complete Traditional Cultural Perspectives studies are required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act but neither hydropower company has responded to Abenaki leaders’ outreach and concerns. Please comply with Section 106 by engaging with Abenaki leaders completely and responsively in Traditional Cultural Perspectives studies. If we do not honor this land’s first inhabitants, if we do not honor their stewardship, if we do not repair the harm that taking their lands and waterways have caused, we will not be abiding by the scriptures I adhere to and we will not be living up to our ethical and moral obligations.

August 6th, 2021

VT Rep. Michael Yantachka, member of the House Energy & Technology Committee

As we work to mitigate the effects of climate change on our environment, hydroelectric power must play a role in supplying carbon-free electricity. The hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River are important in this effort. However, renewal of the licenses for the hydroelectric dams on the Connecticut River are contingent on how they affect the traditions and culture of the indigenous people who inhabit the area. In this case it is the Abenaki people of Vermont and New Hampshire who have had a relationship with the river for hundreds of years before the white man settled there. Great River Hydro has so far failed to involve the Abenaki people in its assessment of the effects of the license renewals on them. It is no longer ok to ignore our indigenous brothers and sisters. They have been pushed aside and co-opted for hundreds of years by the dominant white social structure. The license renewals should not be approved before this assessment includes participation by representatives of the Abenaki people.

June 15th, 2021

Paul Pouliot, Sag8mo – Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook – Abenaki People, Alton, NH

The colonial privilege of the energy industry seems to be continuing for another 100 years. These dams were used to interrupt and terminate our traditional water and food ways by blocking migratory fish. We survived on these fish for thousands of years. The creation of industrial dams were a major component of the colonial process of ethnic genocide and the taking of our homelands of N’dakinna. Today, the utility industry has so many dams on the water and food ways of the greater Indigenous community that we that we can hardly keep track of all of them. We can not see any good from allowing them continued and exclusive use of this most valuable public resource of our waterways – that they continue to abuse for their corporate greed.

As this licensing process continues they have not been working in good faith with regional Indigenous communities. The federal licensing process is so flawed and one sided in favor of the dam operators. We attempted to follow every meeting and to respond to the process as best that we could – but it turned into a great waste of time. Without going into greater detail, the process which they call Indigenous consultation and their development of TCP’s is misleading and mispresented. They have no idea or interest in what the waterways were like in the past or the impact that their dams has had on our people, past and present.

We stressed, that these “fish killing” dams needed to be removed or updated with effective and operational fish access up and down river. We were continually told that migratory fish, such as salmon and sturgeon, will never be allowed to return. Furthermore, that there is always another dam down stream – that will never be removed.

We also stressed the need for greatly improved public recreational access to the river. That seems to be the only thing that they were interested in – “their public image” as a “green” industry. Since the dam operators seem to be only interested in selling the public the idea that hydro is a “green” energy resource we need need to change the overall narrative and discussion.

At this point in time there are only two dam solutions: Short Term – Real migratory fish upstream access using contemporary cascading fish ponds, such as being used on the Penobscot River; Long Term – Systematic removal of ALL dams on ALL of our Indigenous waterways and the replacement with alternative solar and wind electric generation.

To contact us: Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook – Abenaki People, Alton, NH – Email: cowasuck@tds.net

June 11th, 2021