Native American tribe calls protesters who destroyed 9/11 memorial ‘disgusting’

Robby Soave Reporter
Font Size:

The protesters who uprooted a 9/11 memorial display at a liberal arts college in Vermont claimed they were defending Abenaki tribal lands and taking a stand against U.S. imperialism.

The Abenaki tribe’s response? “Disgusting.”

Don Stevens, chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe, said his tribe did not approve of the actions taken by five people–including one student–at Middlebury College last week. (RELATED: Student destroys 9/11 memorial, citing U.S. imperialism)

“We didn’t know anything about this and if we had we certainly wouldn’t have sanctioned it,” he said in a statement to The Addison Independent.

The 9/11 memorial display consisted of 2,977 flags placed in a field on Middlebury’s campus. The flags represent the nearly 3,000 people who died in the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. The College Republicans and Democrats have cooperated to erect the display annually for years.

But this year, liberal activists uprooted all the flags on the pretext of defending the Abenaki tribe’s rights. The field is tribal land, they claimed, and Native American beliefs prohibit disturbing the earth on hallowed ground.

But Steven said there’s no evidence that the field is an Abenaki burial site. And even if it was, the flags would be a welcome presence.

“Our burial sites honor our warriors and their bravery,” said Stevens. “Putting flags in the earth to honor bravery would not be disrespectful.”

Two people admitted to participating in the destruction of the memorial. One is a student, Anna Shireman-Grabowski. She is also a contributor to Salon.

The college condemned the incident as vandalism, and is investigating.

“There is always something to learn from differences of opinion,” wrote Middlebury President Ron Liebowitz in an email to The Daily Caller. “In this case, the disrespectful methods of the protesters overshadowed anything that might have been learned from the convictions they claimed to promote.  We will not tolerate this kind of behavior.”

Follow Robby on Twitter