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 athttp://brookslibraryvt.orgor (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 onlinehttp://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 onlinehttps://www.flynncenter.org/education/student-matinees/details.html?perf_no=15150&prefix=SMW18V
WARNER – Next time you see a person wearing a denim jacket or beaded earrings or bracelet, you might do well to take a closer look.
“This is sort of everyday wear that Native people would wear now, and it includes some kinds of things that non-Native people would wear too, but there’s just something about it that shows their native identity,” said Nancy Jo Chabot, curator of the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner.
The new exhibit at the museum, “Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage”, documents the way in which garments and accessories that reflect Abenaki heritage have been – and still are – made and used to express Native identity, according to museum officials.
“You start to see that in little elements in modern clothing,” she said of the portion of the exhibit depicting the current era, “things that wouldn’t look out of place for any modern person walking down the road, but for a Native person have these very distinctively heavy Northeast design elements.
“That’s a crucial, important part of anything we do here at the museum: (showing) that Abenaki people are here, are living, and creating wonderful things. And this exhibit in particular is to show that the Abenaki people that were here, where we are on this land right now, are still here.”
Vera Longtoe Sheehan, an Abenaki teaching artist, activist and director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, curated the exhibit with Eloise Beil of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. This exhibit was unique, Sheehan said, in that it is the first traveling exhibit about Abenaki culture co-curated by an Abenaki person and that has been accepted in mainstream galleries such as the Amy Tarrant Gallery at the Flynn Performing Arts Center in Burlington, Vt., in addition to museums.
Among other things, the exhibit aims to answer the questions of what it means to be an Abenaki person in the modern world. The exhibit, which is composed of artifact clothing as well as clothing representative of an early time made by contemporary local artists,is the product of a decade-long collaboration among Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Vermont’s Abenaki artists, community members and tribal leaders.
Like all native tribes, Chabot said, the challenges of understanding their tradition and culture and then making that work in the modern world are huge.
“For Abenaki in particular,” she said, “because there was a time in the early part of the 20th century that being identified as Abenaki Indian was dangerous. Speaking your language was dangerous. So families made conscientious efforts to hide that identity.”
A 17th-century style buckskin dress by Melody Walker Brook, part of the new exhibit of Abenaki clothing traditions at the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum. (Courtesy of Diane Stevens Photography)
What she’s talking about is the time period from 1931 to 1963, when the Abenaki among others were targets of a government-sanctioned sterilization program in New Hampshire and Vermont. Some Abenaki fled. The ones that stayed, hid in plain sight, requiringd them to abandon openly practicing traditions that could identify them as Abenaki. To this day, many tribal elders refuse to admit publically they are Abenaki. As a result, some people believe the Abenaki no longer exist and it is one of the reason the Abenaki – while recognized in Maine and Vermont – are not recognized federally or in New Hampshire. According to government documents the Abenaki can’t prove they’ve consistently existed as a tribe.
“Now we’re in a generation, two generations after that,” Chabot said. “And a lot of people know they have an Indian heritage that are from New Hampshire and Vermont and are in that very challenging place where they want to learn more and are starting to understand some things that their parents or grandparents would do that they wouldn’t have explained years ago.
“So people go about that in many different ways. This is sort of reclaiming their culture. This particular exhibit does that through clothing. . Finding ways to find those cultural threads is very important.”
“In addition to relaying the message that we are still here, the exhibit should show people that we know our history and still practice our culture,” said Longtoe Sheeham. “However, artists don’t need to choose between being a traditional or contemporary artist. Many of us practice both. For instance, I made the Tolba (turtle) Jean Jacket that was designed with traditional designs but I also made the twined woven dress that connects my family tradition to thousands of years of our history.”
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The Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum, Education and Cultural Center, 18 Highlawn Road, is open daily May 1 – Oct. 31, Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m. In November, the museum is open on weekends from noon to 5 p.m.
The exhibit will be on view in Warner until Oct. 29 and then it will be moving to The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Conn.
For more information, visit the museum’s Facebook page, visit www.indianmuseum.org, call 456-2600 or email@example.com.
The University of Massachusetts, Amherst second-year graduate students in the History of Art & Archictecture Department invite you to an exciting upcoming event:
Strength, Unity, Power: Contemporary Practices in Native Arts
This symposium explores the cutting edge of what artists, museum professionals, and scholars today are doing to promote justice for Native American communities, both in the art world and beyond. The keynote address will be delivered by contemporary Native American artist, Wendy Red Star, and will be followed by a panel discussion withscholars, Dr. Sonya Atalay and Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, moderated by Dr.Dana Leibsohn.
The symposium is a free event hosted by the History of Art & Architecture department’s second year graduate students. Symposium Date & Time: 15 September, 4pm-6pm, Location: ILC S240 Reception Date & Time: 15 September, 6pm-7pm, Location: Campus Center 165
Gov. Phil Scott says that he will proclaim Oct. 9, 2017 as Indigenous People’s Day in Vermont. This is the same date on which the federal holiday Columbus Day falls this year.
According to his proclamation, Scott says the state will recognize the contributions of Vermont’s first residents.
“I’m pleased to recognize the historic and cultural significance of the Indigenous Peoples here in Vermont, with an understanding our state was founded and built upon the lands they first inhabited,” Scott wrote in a prepared statement obtained on Friday. “With this proclamation, we, as a state, aim to acknowledge and celebrate indigenous heritage.”
It would take legislative action to formally rename Columbus Day in the state. However at the local level, the Brattleboro select board already passed a resolution this year after town meeting voters passed a nonbinding resolution supporting the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day.
Burlington, VT., August 30, 2017 – The Google Play store has released a new Android app called Vermont Abenaki Artists Association which was designed by Dustin Lapierre, a senior at Champlain College.
It all began two months ago when Lapierre’s professor, Melody Walker Brook, sent an email to the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) stating she had “a student very well versed in computer application” and inquired if VAAA might need an intern with those skills. Although Lapierre had previously worked with desktop apps, he accepted the challenge to develop a phone app.
Lapierre, a Computer Science and Innovation major with a minor in foreign languages said, “I was very excited to get a chance to work with the Abenaki tribe of Vermont in creating a new avenue for them to introduce their culture to the public. Between my skills and my interests, this project was a perfect fit for me, and I hope I was able to help in some way.”
Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, explains that the app, which is entitled Vermont Abenaki Artists Association app “will be used to deliver additional content about our current and future exhibits to the public.” The app contains photos and descriptions of current Abenaki exhibitions, works of art, important regalia and related videos.
Currently featured on the app, the traveling exhibit Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage brings before audiences in New England a group of objects and images that document the way in which garments and accessories that reflect Abenaki heritage have been – and still are – made and used to express Native identity. Wearing Our Heritage was curated by Longtoe Sheehan and Eloise Beil of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) in Vergennes. The exhibit is currently on view at LCMM until September 3, and then it will move to Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, NH and the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, CT.
VAAA is happy with the new app that Lapierre developed and is excited for the opportunity to expand interpretation of the exhibition through digital technology. The Wearing Our Heritage exhibit opened the door for VAAA needing the app. The exhibit and app are among the most recent outcomes of a longstanding partnership between VAAA and LCMM. “For the past decade, as a maritime museum dedicated to Lake Champlain, LCMM has been on the cutting edge of the museum field by working with community stakeholders whose ancestors lived and died in the Champlain Valley for over 10,000 years,” explained Longtoe Sheehan.
As for Lapierre’s future plans, he says “I definitely prefer Desktop programming due to familiarity, but I’m open to mobile development as a career path. Ideally, I would like to work in any field where I can communicate or interact with an international audience.”
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 Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
LCMM is an all-year hub for maritime education that uses the discovery and stewardship of Lake Champlain’s underwater cultural heritage and environment to inspire life-long learning. LCMM brings Lake Champlain’s storied past to life through replica ships, active boat building, on-water ecology programs, nautical archaeology, collections and exhibits, and cultural heritage events. From late-May through mid-October visitors explore LCMM’s 4-acre campus, antique boats, lake history, shipwreck discoveries, step aboard a 1776 gunboat replica and enjoy hands-on and on-water opportunities. 4472 Basin Harbor Road, 7 scenic miles from Vergennes. Find Museum dates, hours of operation, events & reservations, and the Schooner Lois McClure tour itinerary at www.lcmm.org or call 802 475-2022.
TURNERS FALLS – The Pocumtuck Homelands Festival celebrated Native American culture with live music, primitive skills demonstrations, storytelling and more Saturday at Unity Park on the historic banks of the Connecticut River.
The festival featured vendors of Native American arts and crafts, and all were eager to share knowledge of their history and culture. Vera Longtoe Sheehan follows in the tradition of her ancestors, making twined baskets and bags. But it in her family, it is known as knotting. One basket of knotted milkweed took her an especially long time. “I stopped counting after 120 hours.”
The festival has attracted as many as 2,000 people in recent years, but occasional rain and the threat of thunderstorms may have discouraged some this year. “Everything is wet,” said Jack Kuehl, who makes canoes and drums. “The drums are wet and they won’t play; but everything will dry.”
After a year’s hiatus, Abenaki and Indigenous Peoples Day is returning to White River Junction. The celebration, hosted by the Hartford Historical Society, aims to honor Vermont’s earliest known residents who lived in the area well before Vermont, or the United States for that matter, was ever thought of. It will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction. Admission is free.
Among the attendees will be Jeanne Brink, whom Martha Knapp, director of the Hartford Historical Society Museum, described as “a respected elder,” of the Abenaki tribe. Brink also teaches the Abenaki language. “The language is really getting big now that the Abenaki are starting to come out and get recognized,” Knapp said. Brink also teaches basket-making, and three of her students, Emily, Megan and Valerie Boles, will be there with her to demonstrate their skills.
CONTEMPORARY ABENAKI ARTISTS share their artwork and family photographs in the special exhibit “Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage,” which is on display at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Ferrisburgh through Aug. 12. Photo courtesy Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will host “Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom,” a summer workshop for educators, this Wednesday, Aug. 2. Members of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association will serve as faculty for this all-day seminar, and for a series of panel discussions for young adults and adults to be offered in the fall and spring at area libraries.
The 4th Annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival, a celebration of Native American Art, Music, and Culture, takes place on Saturday, August 5 from 10am to 7pm at the Unity Park Waterfront in Turners Falls, MA. The event features live traditional, original and fusion music, Native American crafts, story telling ,drumming, games and activities for kids, primitive skills demonstrations, and an impressive selection of books.
The Mashantucket-Pequot archaeology team will be on site to analyze early contact period artifacts brought to the festival. Festival food will be available, including Native American fare. The Pocumtuck Homelands Festival is free, family friendly, educational, accessible and fun for all ages!
This event is sponsored by The Nolumbeka Project, with support by Turners Falls RuverCulture.