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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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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

Hartford Historical Society to Honor Abenaki Tribe

historic-french-depiction-abenaki-couple

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.

Read the full story by Liz Sauchelli in the Valley News.

Pocumtuck Homelands Festival

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.

Read the full text and schedule on Facebook.

 

Sessions for Teacher Training

Presenting Abenaki History in the Classroom Promo

When: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 from 9:30am-4pm

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

Cost: $15 registration fee includes lunch and program materials.

Register: Eventbrite

Session Descriptions

Walk Through Western Abenaki History with Melody Walker Brook 

From creation to the present day, Brook will touch upon key events in Abenaki history to highlight their unique story in the Northeast.

Introduction to VAAA Educational Resources with Vera and Lina 

Explore VAAA educational tools, study guides, activity sheets and possible classroom visits by Abenaki culture bearers. Followed by a sample screening of some of our documentary short that teachers can show their students in their classrooms.

Using the Land, River, Forest, and Animals to Survive with Roger Longtoe Sheehan 

When talking about hunting, spirituality, and land use, it’s important to understand how they are all connected. Sheehan will guide us through seasonal lifeways from hunting moose, ice fishing, harvesting materials for survival. There will also be a display of equipment and other items from his private collection.

Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage Exhibition Tour with Vera Longtoe Sheehan 

Teachers will have the opportunity to further their knowledge of the intertwining historical and cultural concepts that they have been learning throughout the day, and to become more familiar with some of the materials available to the Abenaki people. The tour will explore how culture bearers express their identity through wearing regalia that shows their connections to the world, their community and their ancestors.

Coming Home: the Significance of Local Knowledge and Stewardship by Lina Longtoe 

Across Native American communities, what is the principle of the Next Seven Generations and how have Abenaki families communicated it to their children? Learn how to connect students to local plant life, then utilize them to create children’s toys and activities.

 Gardening and Foodways with Liz Charlebois

Liz’s discussion will focus on Northeast indigenous food varieties. She will talk about food sovereignty, growing practices and Three Sisters gardening. She will also discuss her seed keeping efforts.

Photos From the 2017 Abenaki Heritage Weekend

Every year the Abenaki Heritage Weekend offers opportunities for in promtu activities for the public to interact with the Abenaki community. Lina Longtoe of Askawobi Production captured a couple of these encounters.

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Aaron Wood teaches two young people learn how to pound an ash log to produce ash splints for basket making.

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Everyone gathers for a Round Dance

The Past Meets the Present at Abenaki Heritage Weekend

VERGENNES, VT., JUNE 9, 2017 – Join the Abenaki community of Vermont and New Hampshire on June 24 and 25 for a family fun, enriched weekend that is deeply rooted in local Native American heritage.

This special weekend, hosted by Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and presented in partnership with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, gives visitors an Indigenous perspective on life in the Champlain Valley in the past and present. Indoor and outdoor activities such as drumming, storytelling, craft and cooking demonstrations will be presented by citizens of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk and Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation.

Come early to take advantage of all of the activities! The event will open with an Abenaki Greeting Song at 10:30am each day. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch or snacks for your family to enjoy as you listen to the afternoon concert by the Nulhegan Abenaki Drum Group while sitting on your picnic blanket or join in a Round Dance. Make and take arts and crafts activities for the kids will include making a glass wampum bracelet or children’s.

The Native Arts Marketplace and exhibit opening celebration provide opportunities to meet some of the artists featured in the special exhibition Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage. A gallery talk with the curators and artist will provide greater insights as to how Native identity finds expression in different ways with each generation. Additionally, in the presentation The Light Behind Our Eyes – A Perspective on Abenaki Identity, Melody Walker-Brook will explain what it means to be an indigenous person.

Chief Shirly Hook and Doug Bent of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation will be doing a fire pit cooking demonstration. They will begin digging the fire pit on Friday and the turkey and beans will be cooking all day on Saturday. Chief Hook is an avid gardener who prepares foods that she has grows herself. She will a table set up with photos and seeds from the tribal garden. She will also have her three young apprentices with her.

The three little gardeners Savanah, Greyson, and Cadyn will be selling some of the plants that they have grown with the guidance of Chief Hook. Proceeds of the sales will benefit Koasek youth group and children’s activities at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend.

My Grandfather Was Right: a $50,000 Lesson in Ethnoscience by Lina Longtoe of the Indigenous People’s Alliance of Eckerd College who believes “The answers to achieve a sustainable future may exist in the past and present of Indigenous life.”

 

You will find the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, near a leantu in the Pine Grove, where they will be presenting an 18th-century encampment similar to what their ancestors might have stayed in while fishing on Lake Champlain.  Talk to the Native Interpreters about the history and culture of the Champlain Valleys first navigators. Then walk over to the Native American Arts Marketplaces and watch demonstrations of traditional Abenaki art forms such as quillwork, wampum, twined bags and ash basketry.

Location:
4472 Basin Harbor Road, (adjacent to historic Basin Harbor Club), Vergennes, VT 05491

Admission: Adult $12, Seniors $11, Youth 6-17 $8, and Children 5 & under Free

 

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 VAAA and Exhibit Co-Curator (802) 579-0049

Eloise Beil, Collections Manager, Manager of Public Relation, and Exhibit Co-Curator LCMM (802) 475-2022