“Abenaki Elders and Artists Struggle in Face of State Reopening”

photo of disposable masks in the shape of x caption shared the same text as title

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

By Lina Longtoe Schulmeisters (@Askawobi), Program Coordinator and juried artist, and
Hawk Longtoe, Intern and juried artist, VAAA

N’DAKINNA (Vermont, USA) – As the country braces and prepares for new waves of Covid-19 cases amidst state reopenings, the Abenaki population remains vulnerable since the early days of the pandemic.

N’dakinna (Abenaki for our homeland),  is beginning to reopen, with Vermont going as far as to allow “travel outside of Vermont to counties across New England and New York that have a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont and return without quarantining if they do so in a personal vehicle”, according to the Agency of Commerce and Community Development. But many Abenaki citizens are extremely vulnerable in these times.

Based on recent research by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA), the Abenaki population is in desperate need of protective gear (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and other materials as Vermont and neighboring states continue their re-opening plans. Disinfectant and cleaning supplies are also highly needed, in order to keep Abenaki families and businesses safe, while personal care/hygiene products have also been requested alongside arts supplies for children and youth performers. “I worry and pray that everyone is checking on the Elders,” remarked one VAAA artist, “I don’t know if our Elders are getting the help that they need. I check in on the Elders at least once a week and ask if they need anything and hope they aren’t too proud to say yes or accept that help.”

For this reason, VAAA’s team is working behind the scenes to gather donations to help fund our Covid-19 relief and response efforts, including sending care packages to Elders and artists who need PPE items such as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, or assistance with acquiring basic necessities such as food and medicine. Due to the fact that VAAA is a grassroots organization, our long-time partner Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will be our acting fiscal sponsor. Visit VAAA’s donation page to see how you can help visit www.abenakiart.org/donations.

VAAA was recently awarded a special project grant from the Vermont Arts Council and New England Foundation for the Arts which will provide direct relief and assistance to 17 Abenaki artists. Vermont Humanities Council awarded VAAA a Cultural Relief grant that will partially support virtual programming such as the Abenaki Heritage Weekend later this summer. Contributions like these serve as direct action to assist the Abenaki community in a meaningful way identified by the Abenaki community.

VAAA represents almost 300 individuals who proudly contribute to not only the four Recognized tribes of Vermont (the Elnu, Nulhegan, Koasek, and Missisquoi Abenaki Tribes) but also contribute to the larger Vermont and American societies. We are essential workers, health care workers, EMTs, tradesmen, business owners, teachers, educators, professors, veterans, EMS students, volunteers, adult and youth leadership, Elders, and much, much more. Just like you and your families. The groundbreaking research discussed here is currently being undertaken by key individuals within the VAAA team. Any publications or presentations based on this data will be made by these same Abenaki culture bearers.

References:

  • Agency of Commerce and Community Development, 2020. Cross State Travel Information | Agency Of Commerce And Community Development. [online] Agency of Commerce and Community Development. Available at: <https://accd.vermont.gov/covid-19/restart/cross-state-travel> [Accessed 14 June 2020].

About the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA)

Our mission is to promote Vermont’s Indigenous arts and artists, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas and professional development as entrepreneurs, and to have a method for the public to find and engage our artists. For more information about VAAA, please visit http://abenakiart.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

For more information, contact:

Lina Longtoe Schulmeisters, Program Coordinator, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, abenaki@abenakiart.org

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Calling All Abenakis

Support local indigenous research and ways of knowing; participate if you’re eligible or share to spread the word. I’m looking to reach all Abenakis across N’dakinna. The survey is available at www.tinyurl.com/AbenakiFood

This is open to *all* Abenakis, regardless of:
– tribal affiliation
– which country you live in
– whether you or your tribe are currently recognize
d or have Indian status

 

Sen. Bernie Sanders Exhibits Abenaki Art in Office

For more information Contact: Vera Longtoe Sheehan, vera.sheehan@abenakiart.org

Image Courtesy of Diane Stevens Photography.

July 26, 2019 – Burlington, VT. – Abenaki art will be on display for the public in Sen. Bernie Sanders Washington DC office from now until November 2019.

Last January, Julia Santos from Senator Sanders office reached out to the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, and the senator’s representative requested that VAAA loan Abenaki artwork to be displayed in the senator’s office as part of an on-going exhibit dedicated to Vermont artists. When asked whether the senator was interested in displaying traditional or contemporary art, Santos suggested that the art represent the beauty of Abenaki culture.

“As the discussion continued, it became clear that the Abenaki people should exhibit a small collection of both traditional and contemporary artists so the art could tell the story of Abenaki continuity of culture in our homeland,” explained Vera Longtoe Sheehan who is the Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. “It was also important for the Abenaki language to be incorporated into the exhibit title yet for the exhibit name to be understood by a broader audience.”

As visitors enter Sen. Sanders office they are greeted by the exhibit “Askwa n’daoldibna iodaliWe are Still Here” which features artwork by well-known artists from three out four of Vermont’s recognized tribes. Some of the highlights include: Amy Hook-Therrien’s, of the Koasek Abenaki Tribe, watercolor painting “An Aerial View of N’Dakinna” depicting the tribal homeland without borders; Jeanne Morningstar of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe’s wood-burned gourd, which tells the story of Gluskape shooting an arrow into the Ash tree and bringing humans into existence; a beaded Chief’s medallion by Lori Lambert, of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe bearing her tribal flag; Vera Longtoe Sheehan, of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, honoring all Abenaki veterans past and present with a woven bag in the colors of the “Red and Blue Men;” and the photograph Nature’s Palette by Diane Stevens’s of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe. This image won the Best in Color award in the Arts Alive Open Photography Contest.

Sheehan goes on to explain how Abenaki designs carry special meanings, especially when woven into wampum belts that are used in ceremonies. Linda Longtoe Sheehan, also of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, explains the images on the “Marriage Equality Wampum Belt” which bears the images of “two men together, a man and a woman together, and two women together.”

Last but not least, the acrylic painting 18th Century Abenaki Couple that was created by Francine Poitras Jones. This particular artwork was created by referencing an original 18th century watercolor painting of an Abenaki couple which is in the collection of the Montreal Archives.

“It is important that Abenaki artistry is displayed in the Capitol City of the United States of America. We are part of the original fabric that makes up this country.  We continue our governmental relationships with the US Congress delegations as did our ancestors. In this spirit, we must thank Senator Bernie Sanders for hosting our Western Abenaki display and recognizing the importance of indigenous people who still live and thrive in his home state of Vermont,” said Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe.

If you are unable to travel to Washington DC, VAAA has another exhibit is on display at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, VT.  “Nebizun: Water is Life” draws its inspiration from Wabanaki (Native American) Grandmothers that have been doing Water Walks to pray for the water. Grandmother Dorene Bernard and others are currently traveling over 600 kilometers through the traditional territories of the Wabanaki Confederacy tribes (Abenaki, Mi’kmaq, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, and Malecite). Their journey will take them from Nova Scotia to Nebizun, Maine in “a 53-day ceremony where we’re going to walk with the water, to pray for the water and pray for Mother Earth,” Bernard said.

As fellow citizens of the Wabanaki Confederacy, the Abenaki share their concerns for life bringing waters. “We want to show the Abenaki relationship to water and draw attention to water as a fundamental element that is necessary for all life and acknowledge how pollution can change our traditional lifeways and health,” said Vera Longtoe Sheehan who curated both exhibits.

About the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA)

Our mission is to promote Vermont’s Indigenous arts and artists, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas and professional development as entrepreneurs, and to have a method for the public to find and engage our artists. For more information about VAAA please visit http://abenakiart.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

For more information, contact:

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Director Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (802) 579-0049

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Abenaki Fulbright Scholar Returns to Homeland for Dissertation Research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inline imageJoin us in congratulating Vermont Abenaki Artists Association educator and artist, Lina Longtoe Schulmeisters on the successful completion of her J. William Fulbright grant! Last year, Lina was selected to join the 2018-2019 US-UK Fulbright Commission Postgraduate Cohort and used the grant to fund her studies at the University of Reading where she is currently an MSc Environment and Development candidate. Lina notes that her academic interests and goals exist, “at the intersection of sustainability, food security and sovereignty, and social justice. I want to ensure that marginalized communities, particularly indigenous ones, are not excluded from decision making in the future.”

Lina Longtoe Schulmeisters graduated from Eckerd College with a BA in Environmental Studies and a concentration in sustainability. She was a 2017 The Udall Foundation Tribal Policy Scholar. Her other accomplishments include being elected onto the University of Reading’s School of Agriculture, Policy and Development’s Student-Staff Committee, as well as Reading University Student Union as the Environment and Development Postgraduate Representative. Notably, she was also awarded one of the Graduate Institute of International Development, Agriculture and Economics ( GIIDAE ) International Scholarships by her University, of which there is only one awardee per continent. She remains proud to serve her Abenaki community by acting as the newly appointed Program Coordinator for the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and as the Elnu Abenaki Tribe’s official documentarian.

She has recently returned to N’dakinna (our homeland) to complete her dissertation on Abenaki food sovereignty. According to Lina, she wishes not only to fill gaps in the literature about contemporary Abenaki lifestyles but also hopes to remedy some of the damaging ways research has been conducted in Indian Country. As for near future plans, Lina is excited to return to her role as one of the guest lecturers for this year’s Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom where she will be speaking about ethnoscience and our traditional agricultural. Teachers and educators interested in signing up for the professional development, Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom, may do so through the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum at http://tinyurl.com/AbenakiEdu

Available for certification or credit from Castleton University.

Photo courtesy of Lina Longtoe Schulmeisters via Askawobi Productions.

About Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA)
The VAAA mission is to promote Vermont’s Indigenous arts and artists, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas and professional development as entrepreneurs, and to have a method for the public to find and engage Abenaki artists. For more information about VAAA, please visit http://abenakiart.org or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

About the Elnu Abenaki Tribe
In 2011, Governor Peter Shumlin granted state recognition to the Elnu Abenaki Tribe based in Southern Vermont. Elnu citizens work to continue our cultural heritage through historical research, lectures and school programs, oral story-telling, singing, dancing and traditional craft making. Our main focus is insuring that our traditions carry on to our children. We are traditionalists trying to maintain our culture in a modern society. For more information about visit http://elnuabenakitribe.org.

Contact
Vera Longtoe Sheehan
Director, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association
vera.sheehan@abenakiart.org
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VAAA Report to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs 1-7-2019

Kwai (hello/greetings) everyone,

As we have just retired 2018 and look forward to 2019, I would like to let you know what a successful year 2018 was. VAAA partnered with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Flynn Performing Arts Center, and local libraries to present many programs.

School children from throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut went to see our traveling exhibit Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage and they used the curriculum materials that we developed in their classrooms. Additionally, we had 28 teachers attend our second annual professional development seminar Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom.

Education is a crucial part of VAAA’s mission to reach the public. This year’s annual Abenaki Heritage Weekend, on June 22-23rd will focus on reaching young people and their families through activities. Additionally, we are excited to officially announce our third annual Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom teacher training will take place from August 8-10. Both of these events will take place at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

If you are unfamiliar with Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom, it is a three-day course that teacher can take to fulfill their professional development needs. After successful completion, teachers can either choose a certificate of completion or academic credit at Castleton College.

We also developed an Abenaki case study for the State University of New York. The case study will be used in a second course at SUNY this Spring semester.

2019, will be another exciting year! Our education team is busy developing new K12 curriculum materials and resources for K12 classrooms and beyond. I would like to take a moment to acknowledge VAAA’s education team whom I work closely with Melody Walker, Lina Longtoe, Francine Poitras Jones, and other culture bearers who have dedicated themselves to teaching our culture. Our level of success in the community is made possible through their dedication.

In 2019, we look forward to new partnerships. Institutions and school who are interested in working with Vermont Abenaki Artists Association can visit our website abenakiart.org for more information contact us at abenaki@abenakiart.org, and their emails will be forwarded to the correct artist or department.

Kci wliwni (great thanks) for your support and confidence as we move onto the new year.

Waolowzi (be well),

Vera Longtoe Sheehan

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 23, 2018

Earth Haven Learning Centre is proud to announce the publication of the Seven Sisters: Ancient Seeds and Food Systems of the Wabanaki People and the Chesapeake Bay Region, written by Dr. Frederick M. Wiseman.

This book tells the story of a remarkable seed chase that is
combined with the reclamation of lost heritage of the Wabanaki people, their history and culture, and the rediscovery of their ancient agricultural technologies. Also highlighted are ancient seeds from the Chesapeake Bay region.

This 7” x 10” full colour publication offers a compilation ofnumerous, heirloom seeds, along with photographs, descriptions and their origins. The book also describes the ancient agricultural systems used by the Wabanaki people, as well as their agricultural ceremonies and calendar. A great book for seed savers and students of environmental and indigenous studies.

“Dr. Wiseman has eloquently laid out our cultural practices, seasons and the meanings behindour overall food systems. I like to refer to our culture as a giant jigsaw puzzle. The puzzle iscomplete and whole only when the different fragmented pieces are put back together. I have found Dr. Wiseman to be a puzzle master with a  unique way of finding the missing pieces to helpthe Abenaki experience come into better focus.” – Chief Don Stevens

Trained as an archaeologist and ecologist, Frederick Matthew Wiseman isdevoted to the promotion of North American Indigenous cultures and thepreservation of their ancient agricultural practices and food systems. Retiredas Professor of Humanities at Johnson State College, he continues to representNative American interests in New England, eastern Canada, the Chesapeake Bay area, Arizona and northwestern Mexico. Over the last twenty years, Dr.Wiseman has completed and published a number of books, films, scholarly andpopular articles and has presented his work at numerous events as a keynote speaker.

For more  information and to order the book, contact earthhavenlearning@gmail.com.
Publication date: April 28, 2018
7” x 10”, Full Color, Soft Cover, 280 pages
Retail price: $28.00 CAN, $22.00 USA

Presenting Abenaki History in the Classroom

Music, history and archaeology, weaving, social justice issues, heirloom plants and fire-pit cooking: through a combination of lectures and experiential learning, Abenaki scholars, historians, and culture bearers present their vibrant regional culture that reaches back nearly 13,000 years and continues into the 21st century. This 2 ½-day professional development seminar offers up-to-date information on Abenaki culture to prepare educators of all levels to present Abenaki culture in their classrooms and better support Abenaki and other Native American students. Market research by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) indicates that many teachers unknowingly use outdated resources, and people are further confused by images of Native Americans in the media. Members of the VAAA serve as faculty for this interdisciplinary seminar at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. This rich learning experience is designed to provide educators (from teachers at schools and historic sites to homeschool teachers) with new resources and techniques to help students learn about Abenaki culture.

Audience: All Educators

When: Wednesday, August 3 – 4, 2017 from 9:30am-4pm

Where: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Road, Vergennes, VT

Cost: $375 for certificate program or $550 if taken for credit from Castleton College. Registration fee includes lunch, program materials, and certification

Register at: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Upcoming Events

April 19 th, 2018, 7:00 pm – Wearing Our Heritage – Contemporary Abenaki artists and tribal members talk about the meaning of garments, accessories and regalia in their own lives and in the expression of community and tribal identity. This program was created by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in partnership with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Flynn Center for the Arts, supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. Charlotte Library, Shelburne, VT. Admission is free.

May 7, 2018 – Abenaki Woman’s Panel Discussion- Native American women are perhaps the most marginalized group of people in Vermont. Discussion by a panel of Native women will address their struggles coming to terms with the dichotomy between the respected position of Abenaki women in our past and how society has lost respect for women; their roles as culture bearers, leaders and mothers; and how cultural traditions suggest possibilities for change in the future.  This program was created by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in partnership with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Flynn Center for the Arts, supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. Fletcher Free, Burlington, VT. Admission is free.

June 23 & 24 – Abenaki Heritage Weekend  – This special weekend organized by Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and presented at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum gives visitors an Abenaki perspective on life in the Champlain Valley. Dancing, drumming, storytelling, craft and cooking demonstrations are presented by members of Vermont’s Abenaki Tribes. The Native Arts Marketplace and exhibit opening celebration provide opportunities to meet some of the artists featured in the special exhibition Abenaki Ornamaentation: From Trade Beads to Sead Beads. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum 4472 Basin Harbor Rd. Vergennes, VT 05491 · (802) 475-2022. More information

August 3 & 4 – Teaching Abenaki History and Culture.  Two day and a half professional development seminar for teachers, museum educators, and home schoolers. Certificate provided upon sucessful completion of 20-hour program. More information

Buy Native Art this Holiday Season

Buy Native - Low ResThere’s still time to buy Native this holiday season. Shop for one-of-a-kind holiday gifts from our local Native American artists at these locations and art markets:

Everyday. Half Baked and Fully Brewed. Main Street Lincoln, NH. Features art by Bernie Mortz.

Online. http://store.lcmm.org/SearchResults.asp?Search=abenaki&Submit=Search carries a selection of wampum jewelry by Linda Lontoe Sheehan and Twined bags by Vera Longtoe Sheehan.

December 1, 2, & 3, Vermont International Festival. Champlain Expo, Essex Junction

December 2, Grande Isle School Holiday Craft Bazaar. Grande Isle, VT. Ash Baskets by Kerry Wood.

December 2 & 3. Winter Indian Arts & Crafts Market. Institute for American Indian Studies. Washington CT. Gourds by Jeanne Morningstar Kent.

December 9 & 10. Winter Indian Arts & Crafts Market. Institute for American Indian Studies. Washington CT.Gourds by Jeanne Morningstar Kent.

December 16 & 17. Winter Indian Arts & Crafts Market. Institute for American Indian Studies. Washington CT. Gourds by Jeanne Morningstar Kent.

November is Native American Heritage Month

Did you know it’s Native American Heritage Month? The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association has partnered with several institutions to host events all over Vermont.

Hood - Lori Lambert

November 4 & 5, 10 AM to 4:00 PM – Native Heritage Weekend –  Fort at Number 4, Charleston, NH. For more information visit http://www.fortat4.org/index.html

November 7, Wearing Our History: Abenaki Artists Panel Discussion – Contemporary Abenaki artists and tribal members talk about the meaning of garments, accessories, and regalia in their own lives and in the expression of community and tribal identity. This program was created by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in partnership with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Flynn Center for the Arts, supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. Pierson Library, Shelburne, VT. For more information call the library (802) 985-5124.

November 8, 2017, 7:00 to 9:00 PM – Wearing Our History: Abenaki Artists Panel Discussion – Contemporary Abenaki artists and tribal members talk about the meaning of garments, accessories, and regalia in their own lives and in the expression of community and tribal identity. This program was created by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in partnership with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Flynn Center for the Arts, supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. Find out more about the event and panel at http://brookslibraryvt.org or (802) 254-5290. Light refreshments will be served. Admission is free.

November 9th – Time TBA – Decolonizing Native American Art Vera Longtoe Sheehan will discuss how Abenaki art and how it is similar yet different from what most the average American concept of art. Champlain College, Room TBA. Burlington, VT.

November 14th, 7:30 PM – 10 PM. An Evening with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. At the Flynn for the first time, the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association shares a performance of both traditional and contemporary Abenaki music, storytelling, and drumming. Performers include Chief Don Stevens, Chief of the Nulhegan band of the Coosuk Abenaki, Nulhegan Abenaki Drum, who combine traditional Northeastern music with the sound of the big powwow drumming, and Bryan Blanchette, a Berklee alumnus who started singing at powwows over 20 years ago and who is currently writing and performing new Abenaki language songs. Tickets available through the Flynn online  http://www.flynncenter.org. Flynn Performing Arts Center. Burlington, VT.

November 15th, 10:00AM – Student Matinee: Vermont Abenaki Artists. The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association embodies the history, culture, and art of the Abenaki people. The artists preserve and pass on the traditional art of their ancestors and create contemporary artistic expressions informed by tradition. The Flynn presents the association for the first time as they take our student audiences on a performance journey including traditional drumming and singing and contemporary storytelling, while building new understandings about Abenaki culture. Tickets available through the Flynn online https://www.flynncenter.org/education/student-matinees/details.html?perf_no=15150&prefix=SMW18V

View the full list on the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association website