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“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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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

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.

 

 

 

Abenaki cultural artifacts on view at lake museum

 

Abenaki Art at LCMM Alnobak babyCONTEMPORARY 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.

Read the full article on the Addison Independent website.

Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom

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Members of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association serve as faculty for this one-day professional development seminar at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM), designed to provide teachers and homeschool educators with new resources and techniques to help elementary students learn about the Abenaki tribe. This program is supported by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council.

Abenaki culture and history that spans 11,000 years in the Champlain Valley will be introduced by culture bearers with deep understanding of how this vibrant regional culture continues into the 21st century. Some of the topics include: history and stereotypes; new resources being developed for use in classrooms; age-appropriate activities; and learning how you can better support Abenaki and other Native students while presenting American history. The program includes a gallery talk and tour of the traveling exhibition Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage that explores Abenaki identity and continuity through the lens of the clothing we make and wear to express our identity.

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

Instructors:

Melody Walker Brook is an Adjunct Professor at Champlain College and has taught The Abenakis and Their Neighbors and Abenaki Spirituality at Johnson State College. She serves on the Vermont Commission of Native American Affairs and is a traditional beadworker and finger weaver.

Liz Charlebois, Abenaki culture bearer, is a powwow dancer, traditional bead worker, ash basket maker, and bitten birch bark artist. She cultivates a traditional garden and has organized a seed bank of heirloom seeds grown by the Indigenous people of the Northeast. Liz has served on the New Hampshire Commission of Native American Affairs and as Education Specialist at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, NH.

Lina Longtoe is certified Project WILD instructor for the Growing Up WILD, Aquatic WILD and Project WILD K – 12 programs, which are sponsored by the EPA, US Fish and Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation. Her area of study is environmental science with a concentration in sustainability. She is Tribal Documentarian for the Elnu Abenaki Tribe and maintains a YouTube channel to help preserve Abenaki culture.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, has a background in Museum Studies and Native American Studies. She has been designing and implementing educational programs with museums, schools and historic sites for over twenty-five years. Her art is focused on traditional clothing and twined woven plant fiber bags.

For more information, please contact:

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association vera.sheehan@abenakiart.org

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