BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The Brattleboro Museum & Art Center (BMAC) presents a free online Abenaki cooking demonstration with chef Jessee Lawyer on Thursday, August 11, at 7 p.m. Register at brattleboromuseum.org or 802-257-0124 x101. This event is presented in connection with “Nebizun: Water Is Life,” an exhibit of artwork by Abenaki artists of the Champlain Valley and Connecticut River Valley regions, on view at BMAC through October 10.
Lawyer is the head chef at Sweetwaters in Burlington, Vermont. As a culinary artist, he creates indigenous specialties using Wabanaki ingredients. For the online demonstration, Lawyer will make moz (moose) fried rice, using moose meat, a blend of wild and white rice, bear fat, and foraged items.
Lawyer descends from a long line of Indigenous artists. In addition to his pursuit of the culinary arts, he continues his family tradition as one of the last two Native families in the Northeast that make miniature horsetail coiled baskets. He also hand-carves traditional soapstone pipes and contemporary soapstone sculptures. He draws inspiration from his father, who taught him how to carve.
Founded in 1972, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center presents rotating exhibits of contemporary art, complemented by lectures, artist talks, film screenings, and other public programs. BMAC is open Wednesday-Sunday, 10-4. Admission is on a “pay-as-you-wish” basis. Located in historic Union Station in downtown Brattleboro, at the intersection of Main Street and Routes 119 and 142, the museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information, call 802-257-0124 or visit brattleboromuseum.org.
BMAC is supported in part by the Vermont Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support is provided by Allen Bros. Oil, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, C&S Wholesale Grocers, the Four Columns Inn, Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, and Whetstone Beer Co.
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:
October 13, 2022
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.
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.
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.
June 20, 2022
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
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.
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.
Abenaki Heritage Weekend June 18-19 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.
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 visithttps://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.
June 6, 2022 – We, the four Vermont state recognized Abenaki tribes, stand together in affirmation of our own shared, lived experience here in the Northeast, which is necessarily different from that of our relatives in other places, and which has been acknowledged by the State of Vermont.
The distinct historical and contemporary realities within the southern reaches of Ndakinna, our homelands – under the influence of British and French colonial, Federal, and State governments – have brought us to where we are today. Through common experiences of colonization, marginalization, and displacement, our citizens are now found within what is now called New England and points beyond.
We are appreciative of the public process of change that is underway, to raise awareness, remove imposed divisions, and restore balance in these homelands. We wish to work together for healing and understanding among All of our Relations and all of those who are here now.
We look forward to opportunities for dialogue and collaboration – a responsibility incumbent upon us all – in these increasingly challenging times. Traditional teachings make it clear that we owe this to each other, our children, and to the Earth, our Mother.Signed by the Chiefs of the Four Vermont State Recognized Tribes, on behalf of their Councils and Communities (signatures on file),
Chief Richard Menard, Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi
Co-Chief Shirly Hook, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation
Chief Donald Stevens, Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation
Thursday, April 28, 2022 — 4:00 pm EST (75 minutes)
FREE (Registration required)
Zoom link will be sent out to all registrants via email
“Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England” with Jean M. O’Brien
ABSTRACT: In this talk, Jean O’Brien narrates the argument she makes in her book, Firsting and Lasting, that local histories written in the nineteenth century became a primary means by which Euro-Americans asserted their own modernity while denying it to Indian peoples. Erasing then memorializing Indian peoples also served a more pragmatic colonial goal: refuting Indian claims to land and rights. Drawing on more than six hundred local histories from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island as well as censuses, monuments, and accounts of historical pageants and commemorations, O’Brien explores how these narratives inculcated the myth of Indian extinction, a myth that has stubbornly remained in the American consciousness.
Speaker Bio: Jean M. O’Brien (White Earth Ojibwe) is a Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History at the University of Minnesota. She has authored numerous articles and book chapters about the Woodland American Indian region including but not limited to: Monumental Mobility: The Memory Work of Massasoit (with Lisa Blee, North Carolina, 2019); Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England (Minnesota, 2010); and Dispossession by Degrees: Indian Land and Identity in Natick, Massachusetts, 1650-1790 (Cambridge and Nebraska, 1997 and 2003).
Jean is a co-founder, co-editor, and Past President of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association and the association’s journal, Native American and Indigenous Studies. Jean has received numerous fellowships and awards in support of her expertise.in this field
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.
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.
Walk Through Western Abenaki Historywith 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 withRoger 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 Foodwayswith 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.
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.
Aaron Wood teaches two young people learn how to pound an ash log to produce ash splints for basket making.
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.
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
A note to our visitors