Lifetime Achievement Award (LAW)

The LAW award is only available after a thirty-year track record of success as an artist who willingly gives back to the community and has been a mentor to many others. This award is only available by nomination and nomination does not guarantee an award. To date, only one has been presented. The first LAW was awarded in 2014.

Past Lifetime Achievement Award Winners

Dr. Fred Wiseman – 2014

Fred Wiseman receiving the VAAA Lifetime Achievement Award with Jessee Lawyer and Melody Mackin on stage with him.At the first Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Awards ceremony at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Professor Fred Wiseman was surprised during his filming of the event by being asked to come to the stage from behind the camera. Dr. Wiseman, of Swanton, Vermont, who is retiring from Johnson State College at the end of July, was surprised with a certificate of Lifetime Achievement and the VAAA T-shirt that he had been trying to buy for two days, but with no success.

The Award was presented by his mentoree and VAAA board member Jessee Lawyer of Burlington, VT, with other board members Vera Longtoe Sheehan, of Westminster, VT and Jeanne Kent of Winstead, CT, looking on. The award was not specifically for his achievement in promoting the decorative and performing arts, such as fashion design, wampum (shell bead) art, Indigenous song, dance and oratory, but in his advocacy for recognition by the state of Vermont that its indigenous peoples and their artistic heritage has always been here and needed to be recognized by the state. It was this recognition that permitted Abenaki artists, for the first time to legally sell their creations as Indian art under the Federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act.

The Board members and Dr. Wiseman shared some memories of working together as long ago as the mid-1990’s, and their continuing endeavors to assure that Vermont’s Indigenous arts heritage will never disappear. Koasek Abenaki Tribe citizen Cheryl O’Neil, who was at the ceremony, said “it was an amazing event to see Dr Wiseman with some of his oldest friends and former students sharing their joy in the fruits of his more than thirty year of supporting Abenaki culture and history. It was a well-deserved treat for all of us at the Maritime Museum.”

Artist of the Year

Beginning in 2020, as a fan-determined contest to celebrate VAAA artists and promote economic development during the holiday season, the Artist of the Year Award was started. It is also used to publicly thank artists who participated in exhibits during that calendar year. The nominees must be juried members of VAAA for at least one year. Groups are not eligible.

Past Artists of the Year

2020 Amy Hook-Therrien

Image of Amy Hook-Therrien
Amy Hook-Therrien

Amy is a native Vermonter, originally from Chelsea, she grew up nestled on top of a hill overlooking the valleys below. She was surrounded by nature and beauty. She graduated from Randolph Union High School with a passion for art. She went on to college at the University of Maine in Orono majoring in fine art with a focus in sculpture and painting. After graduating with a BFA from UMaine she moved back to Vermont and she and her husband bought a house in Windsor. When she is not creating art Amy loves to travel, hike, garden, and spend time with her family.

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