Category Archives: Press Release

“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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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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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

Champlain College Student Develops App for Abenaki Artists

Dustin - Low res

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.

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association App - Low resCurrently 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.”

Download the app from the Google Play Store today. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=dustin.exhibitapp2

For information contact:

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, vera.sheehan@abenakiart.org or 802 579-0049.

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 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.