Call to Artists

Image of the word ART with colored background and artist's tools.

Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt all over N’dakinna (our homeland) for over three years. Now we have an opportunity for Native American visual and performing artists to create and share artwork that expresses their response to the pandemic experience. 

We are looking for Abenaki or Native American artists, musicians, and community members who can help to express the impact of this pandemic on ourselves, our families and community, through visual or performing arts, or simply sharing stories of personal experience and perceptions about the the COVID-19 global pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access.  

We are defining artwork in its broadest form. All artistic mediums are welcome. Paintings, collage, mixed media, carving, sculpture, fiber, weaving, pottery, poetry, photography, music, storytelling, dance, video… 

The stories and artwork will be shared in an online exhibit about our experiences and will be considered for possible inclusion in a museum exhibit and educational materials. 

Eligible Native American artists will submit artwork by December 31, 2022, with an artist statement that explains the artwork, and a brief intake form. 

For more information, email abenaki@abenakiart.org

Image of button for About the Abenaki Storytelling Project and link..
Image of Storytelling Blog button and link to Storytelling Blog page.
Image of news room button with link to news room page.
Image of memory booth logo and link to Memory Booth Events page..

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health.

Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Blog

Check back periodically for updates. Posts are listed chronologically with the most recent at the top of the page.

Links to other Storytelling Project Pages:

Image of Call to Artists button with link to more information.
Image of button for About the Abenaki Storytelling Project and link..
Image of memory booth logo and link to Memory Booth Events page..
Image of news room button with link to news room page.

October 13, 2022

Image of the word ART with colored background and artists tools.
Call to Artists!

The impact of COVID-19 has been felt all over N’dakinna (our homeland) for over three years. Now we have an opportunity for Native American visual and performing artists to create and share artwork that expresses their response to the pandemic experience. 

We are looking for Abenaki or Native American artists, musicians, and community members who can help to express the impact of this pandemic on ourselves, our families and community, through visual or performing arts, or simply sharing stories of personal experience and perceptions about the the COVID-19 global pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access. 

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health.

September 28, 2022

As we get closer to our project goals of understanding the Abenaki experiences with COVID-19, vaccines, disparities and access in Vermont and the surrounding environs, we can’t help but think about all of the work ahead of us. The stories and artwork we are collecting will be shared publicly through an online exhibit and a traveling museum exhibit in 2023.

With that in mind, we are continuing to collect stories and artwork at Abenaki Storytelling Projects Memory Booth events. More will be announced soon!

September 15, 2022

September was an interesting month for us. With the beginning of the Fall semester, we bid farewll to our summer intern from Middlebury College. Over the summer, Faith provided invaluable support for this project as our Creative Digital Media Intern. I will definitely miss our weekly meetings. The good news is she will stay on with VAAA as a volunteer through the school year.

Picture of people sitting at tables making art. Blond haired woman standing in the background and trees.

Faith interacting with Abenaki Storytelling Project Memory Booth visitors. Nulhegan Gathering in Benson, VT.

September 2, 2022

We will be hosting the Memory Booth at the 3rd Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Rocks! in Stowe, VT on October 8, 2022 from 10:30 AM to 6:30 PM. If you haven’t already shared your experiences with us, this is a great opportunity to do so. The event will take place at the Stowe Events Field.

The Memory Booth is a place where Abenaki people can create artwork and tell their stories to promote health and wellness. This year, we are processing our thoughts and feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access.

Individuals who participate in the Memory Booth may select their choice of either an I support the Abenaki t-shirt or insulated drink cup. There are monetary incentives available for one-on-one storytelling or focus group storytelling sessions.

August 18, 2022

Today, someone asked me about how the Abenaki Storytelling Project was going and what stage we were in. I described it as being a brand new pile of Legos being poured out of the box. There are so many aspects to this project and individual experiences with COVID-19 and vaccines. We are actively collecting stories and artwork. There are a lot of layers and textures for us to organize as time goes on, but it will be worth it in the end when we create the final exhibit that shares the Abenaki experience through storytelling and art.

Join us on Saturday, in Benson, VT at the Nulhegan Abenaki Gathering. Tell Your Story!

July 11, 2022

Are their incentives for participating in the Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project Memory Booth?

Recently, we were asked if there are any incentives for participating in Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project Memory Booth. Individuals who participate in the Memory Booth may select their choice of either an I support the Abenaki t-shirt or insulated drink cup. There are monetary incentives available for one-on-one storytelling or focus group storytelling sessions.

– incentive for participation in the Abenaki Storytelling Project

T-shirt – incentive for participation in the Abenaki Storytelling Project

June 20, 2022

A crowd gathered around the memory booth at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend.

VAAA’s Executive Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan did a presentation about the Abenaki COVID-19 Storytelling Project at the annual at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT. After the presentation people flocked over to the Memory Booth seeking more information. We collected stories and artwork from more than 18 Native American people!

June 13, 2022

Logo for the Abenaki Storytelling Project’s Memory Booth

The VAAA Storytelling Project will be hosting a Memory Booth at various community events around N’Dakinna (our homeland). The Memory Booth is a place where Abenaki people can create artwork and tell their stories to promote health and wellness. This year, we are processing our thoughts and feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access.

VAAA will have a Memory Booth set up at our annual Abenaki Heritage Weekend on June 18-19, 2022. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

Look for a Memory Booth near you.

June 5, 2022

Like everyone else in the world, the Abenaki community has been greatly affected by the global pandemic and the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is no exception. VAAA’s Abenaki Storytelling project will “allow us to explore this period of our history in a way that hasn’t been done before. Abenakis will tell and interpret their own experience about the pandemic and vaccination intake,” says VAAA Executive Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan.

May 15, 2022

What is the Abenaki Storytelling Project?

The Abenaki Storytelling Project is a community-based arts and storytelling project that focuses on Native American strength and resiliency. The project is led by Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA), a Native American arts organization that serves the public by connecting them to Abenaki educators and artists from the visual, performing, and literary arts. VAAA has  special expertise in working with Abenaki artists and incorporating their arts and storytelling into public programs, cultural events, and museum exhibitions. VAAA uses insights from Native American arts and storytelling to uplift Abenaki voices and perspectives in the interpretation of museum exhibitions, education resources, and in health equity.

Memory Booth

Image of memory booth logo.

The VAAA Storytelling Project will be hosting a Memory Booth at various community events around N’Dakinna (our homeland). The Memory Booth is a place where Abenaki people can create artwork and tell their stories to promote health and wellness. 

This year, we are processing our thoughts and feelings about the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, disparities, and access.

Your artwork and stories will inform the creation of new digital content and a traveling exhibit that promotes Abenaki voices about this crucial topic.

Upcoming Memory Booth Locations

Dates will be announced when available.

Past Memory Booth Locations

  • June 18-19 – Abenaki Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Basin HarborRd, Vergennes, VT 05491
  • August 19 – 20, 2022 – Nulhegan Heritage Gathering, Camp Sunrise Cub Scouting Camp, 2050 Sunset Lake Rd, Benson, VT 05743
  • October 8, 2022 – 3rd Annual Indigenous Peoples’ Day Rocks!

Incentives

Participants will receive a free t-shirt or insulated cup as a thank you gift for their participation.

Image of Call to Artists button with link to more information.
Image of Storytelling Blog button and link to Storytelling Blog page.
Image of news room button with link to news room page.
Image of button for About the Abenaki Storytelling Project and link..

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health.

Abenaki Heritage Weekend 2022

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

For information contact: Francine Poitras Jones

communications@abenakiart.org

 804-943-6197

Abenaki Heritage Weekend June 18-19, 2022 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Are you looking for a special experience to start the summer? On June 18th and 19th, citizens of the New England Abenaki community will gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to celebrate their history and heritage and they are inviting you and your family to join them! 

This free event will be open from 11am to 4 pm both Saturday and Sunday. One of the highlights is the Native Arts Marketplace of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, where visitors can talk to artists, watch craft demonstrations, and purchase outstanding beadwork, paintings, jewelry, wampum, woodwork, leatherwork, drums, feather boxes, and other items. “The variety and quality of the work created by our Abenaki artists are outstanding,” says Vera Longtoe Sheehan of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA). “Some of our artists create traditional art and some create contemporary art, often inspired by tradition. If you are looking to purchase a special gift or something new for your collection, be sure to visit the Native Arts Marketplace.”

Throughout the weekend there will be activities to interest everyone. There will be singing and drumming by the Nulhegan Drum — you may even be invited to drum with them. Chief Shirly Hook and Doug Bent of the Koasek tribe will demonstrate bean hole cooking – just imagine how good that food will smell! If you love the outdoors, don’t miss the Animal Tracks display where Doug Bent will help you to identify and recognize tracks of many animals from N’dakinna (our homeland). Families with little ones will enjoy the “Make and Take” area, where children can make a craft to bring home. Children and adults alike should not miss storytelling by Nulhegan Chief Don Stevens and songs for the little ones with Dancing Blue Wolf.

You are invited to watch skilled artists demonstrate the making of Indigenous crafts. Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe will demonstrate the delicate process of stone carving. Chief Roger will also talk about local Abenaki history. Michael Descoteaux will demonstrate the making of hand drums. You can watch Elnu Abenaki Elder Jim Taylor make wampum beads from whelk and quahog shells, and Linda Longtoe Sheehan weave wampum, an intricate process using the shell beads. 

Frederick Wiseman, Ph.D., will present information about American Abenaki Health and Wellness, a topic of particular interest at this time. The American Abenaki have historically been the targets of genocide and systemic racism. This talk provides important insight into the issues faced by Abenaki people today. Vera Longtoe Sheehan will also introduce the Abenaki Covid Storytelling Project, is a community-based arts and storytelling project which is a new initiative in partnership with the Vermont Department of Health. 

A special exhibition, Nebizun: Water is Life, will be featured in the Schoolhouse Gallery. Work by Abenaki artists together with photographs and commentaries illustrate the dynamic relationship between the People and water in the Abenaki homeland, past and present. Water is essential for life and Nebizun (or Nebizon) is the Abenaki word for medicine. Meet the curator, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, for a gallery talk and conversation. 

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About Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA)

The VAAA mission is to promote awareness of state-recognized Abenaki artists and their art, to provide an organized central place to share creative ideas, and to have a method for the public to find and engage state-recognized Abenaki artists. For more information about VAAA, please visit http://abenakiart.org or follow us on Facebook or Instagram.

About Abenaki Arts & Education Center

The Abenaki Arts and Education Center provides authentic curriculum materials, programs, and other resources about Abenaki culture and history for educators and interested learners. For more information about AAEC, please visit https://abenaki-edu.org/ or follow us on Facebook.

About Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Lake Champlain Maritime Museum 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 vessels, 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 replica canal schooner Lois McClure at the waterfront, or visit 1776 gunboat replica Philadelphia II “on the hard.” Enjoy hands-on and on-water opportunities. Located at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, 7 scenic miles from Vergennes. Find Museum dates, hours of operation, events and reservations at www.lcmm.org or call 802 475-2022.

About the Storytelling Project

The Abenaki Storytelling Project is a community-based art project that supports Native American strength and resiliency. Over the past several years, the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association has sponsored several exhibits to promote the constantly evolving story of the lives of the Abenaki in N’Dakinna (our homeland). We utilize Native American arts and storytelling to uplift regional Abenaki voices and perspectives in museum exhibitions, programs, and cultural heritage events. When people see themselves reflected in exhibitions, artwork, and programs it is good for the health and wellness of their community by giving them a voice, which helps them know that their history, culture, and memories are important; they are not alone, especially during a time such as the recent pandemic.

The focus of this year’s Storytelling Project is exploring how COVID-19 has affected the Abenaki community. Utilizing arts and storytelling, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) will measure insights on COVID-19, vaccine-related perceptions, disparities, and access among the Native American population in Vermont and throughout N’Dakinna. These insights will be shared with the community of origin and the public through an online digital exhibition and a traveling exhibition in 2023-2024.

General Eligibility Requirements

Participants must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Have an email address
  • Be reachable by phone
  • Be Abenaki, Native American, or Native American descent
  • Other restrictions may apply.

Ways to Participate

  • Memory Booth events (15 minutes) 
  • Focus Groups (60 minutes ) 
  • Individual storytelling session (60-90 minutes) – 
  • Group of friends and/or storytelling session (60-90 minutes)  

Contact

For more information or to see if you qualify to be included, email abenaki@abenakiart.org and type Storytelling Project in the subject line.

Check back for project updates!

Image of Call to Artists button with link to more information.
Image of Storytelling Blog button and link to Storytelling Blog page.

Image of news room button with link to news room page.
Image of memory booth logo and link to Memory Booth Events page..

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

Abenaki Heritage Weekend

When: June 17-18, 2023

Where: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Rd, Vergennes, VT 05491

Cost: $0

Directions: Click here for Google Map

Join the Native American community at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend on June 17 and 18 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to explore and learn about the Abenaki perspective on life in the Champlain Valley. Activities include several workshops, presentations, drumming, and singing.

This heritage weekend brings together citizens of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation, the Missisquoi Abenaki Tribe. It is presented by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center, and hosted by the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

If you have specific accommodations you need to facilitate your participation in programs, workshops, or any other questions you have, please contact the organizers of Abenaki Heritage Weekend by email at communications@abenakiart.org.

Special Programs

  • To be determined

Artists Featured in the Arts Marketplace

  • To be determined

Following is the schedule from the 2022 gathering. Note that the schedule for 2023 will be updated when it is finalized. The old schedule is listed to give you an idea of what you can expect at our next gathering.

Saturday, June 17 – Museum Hours: 10:00 am to 4pm

Ongoing Activities until 4:00pm:

  • Arts Marketplace (Boat Shed and on the Green)
  • Wampum with Linda Longtoe Sheehan (Boat Shed)
  • Historical conversations and soapstone pipemaking with Sagamo Roger Longtoe Sheehan
  • Children’s Make and Take (Foundry)
  • Memory Booth (on the Green)
  • In-Ground (Firepit) Cooking Demonstration with Chief Shirly Hook (Roost)
  • Animal Tracking with Doug Bent (Roost)
  • Fire Making with Flint and Steel with Doug Bent (Roost)
Image of storyteller with children.

11:00 – Greeting Song, Land Acknowledgement, and Opening Remarks (Pine Grove)

11:30 – Telling Our Stories: Abenaki Storytelling Project (Auditorium in Gateway) – Sheehan will provide a overview of the project’s inspiration, goals, approach, and significance of this project to the Abenaki people.

12:00 – Picnic Break

1:00 – Storytelling and Music with Dancing Blue Wolf (Pine Grove) – traditional songs will be sung with the children along with the telling of a story.

1:30  – Chief Don Stevens and the Nulhegan Abenaki Drum Group (Key to Liberty) – Chief Don will lead traditional songs and also do storytelling.

2:00 – Nebizun: Water is Life – Gallery Talk (Schoolhouse) – Vera Longtoe Sheehan will present information about the exhibit.

3:00 – Nulhegan Abenaki Drum Group – Music (on the Green)

4:00 – Traveling Song and closing

SUNDAY – June 18, Museum Hours: 10:00 am to 4pm

Ongoing Activities until 4:00pm:

  • Arts Marketplace (Boat Shed and on the Green)
  • Wampum with Linda Longtoe Sheehan (Boat Shed)
  • Historical conversations and soapstone pipemaking with Sagamo Roger Longtoe Sheehan
  • Children’s Make and Take (Foundry)
  • Memory Booth (on the Green)
  • Animal Tracking with Doug Bent (Roost)
  • Fire Making with Flint and Steel with Doug Bent (Roost)

11:00 – Greeting Song, Land Acknowledgement, and Opening Remarks (Pine Grove)

11:30 – Storytelling and Music with Dancing Blue Wolf (Pine Grove) – traditional songs will be sung with the children as well as the telling of a story.

12:00 – Picnic break

1:00 – A Safe Place to be Abenaki – Frederick M. Wiseman (Auditorium) – Dr. Wiseman will discuss the Vermont Indigenous Heritage Center’s successes and future focus on expanding this safe place to be American Abenaki and do American Abenaki things.   

2:00 – Nebizun: Water is Life Gallery Talk (Schoolhouse) – Vera Longtoe Sheehan will present information about the exhibit.

3:00 – Nulhegan Abenaki Drum Group – Music (on the Green)

4:00 – Traveling Song and closing

Image of Linda Longtoe Sheehan.

#Abenaki #heritage #weekend #VAAA

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Kchi Wliwni (A Big Thank You) to our Sponsors

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts,  with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, private foundations, and  individuals. 

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