Abenaki Organizations

The four state-recognized tribes of Vermont are very active. It is important to note that, though the tribes are recognized in Vermont, our land was not divided by borders. We, the Abenaki, call our homeland N’dakinna. The citizens of the four tribes do not live in only Vermont – they live in many places throughout N’dakinna, such as New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and New York. Some of the People even live in states other than the northeast. So, you will find that some of the organizations listed below are far-reaching. 

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing the links to various organizations that you may find of interest. Please take some time and click on the links to learn more about each of these organizations. We have put a description for each organization to help you identify whether they may meet some of your needs or interests. 

Abenaki Arts & Education Center

The Abenaki Arts & Education Center (AAEC) was created because Abenaki history and culture are not included in the regional curriculum, it is difficult for teachers to find Abenaki educators and authentic curriculum resources. In addition to the free resources listed on this website, they also offer many educational programs, and a YouTube channel with videos. Following is the mission of the AAEC:

“Our mission is to support American Abenaki sovereignty through education and sharing Abenaki history and cultural resources with people of all ages so Abenaki living culture can be taught across N’Dakinna (our homeland).”

State-recognized Tribes

People holding hands and doing the Round Dance.

There are four state-recognized tribes in the state of Vermont. Each tribe is self-governed and operates as a sovereign tribe or band. The citizens of the tribes often gather at various functions to fellowship. A good example is the Abenaki Heritage Weekend, which will be held June 18 – 19 this year. To learn more about each tribe, please visit their website. The links are provided here:

Elnu Abenaki Tribe

Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation

Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation

St. Francis-Sokoki Band of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi

Amy Hook Therrien – Acclaimed Abenaki Watercolor Artist – Part 1

Image of magazine cover with Amy Hook-Therrien

Sylvan Linck ‘24.5 – Middlebury College

FYSE 1570: Native Presence and Performance – 13 May 2021

Due to the length of this narrative, it will be introduced in two parts over a period of two weeks. This is part one.

Amy Hook Therrien is a local artist who specializes in watercolor painting and is a citizen of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation. Therrien grew up with her family in Chelsea, Vermont in a house overlooking the valley, and surrounded by nature. She graduated from Randolph Union High School and, with the support and encouragement of her parents, attended the University of Maine in Orono to study art. She considers herself very lucky to have such a supportive relationship with her family. While at the University of Maine in Orono she majored in fine art and specialized in painting and sculpture. Therrien moved back to Vermont after graduation, and is living in Windsor with her husband Alex, along with their bunny and two dogs. When she isn’t creating art, she loves spending time with family, traveling, and getting outside to do activities such as hiking and gardening. She is also a Traditional Abenaki singer, and for a time participated in an Abenaki singing group. 

Therrien often starts her paintings by drawing lines and details with pen and then going over those drawings with watercolor. When first beginning to incorporate watercolor into her work, the fluidity and uncontrollability of the medium made her nervous. However, with time and practice, she “learned to love the uncontrollable chaos” of it. She often purposefully mixes her paint loosely to allow the paint to separate in a way that creates a more exciting and realistic texture. Therrien believes that “painting in nature is always exciting,” and loves painting things that she finds outdoors. She is passionate about exploring that excitement, and enjoys painting natural things such as landscapes, flowers, leaves, waterfalls, stones, and is “obsessed” with painting birch trees, which she really loves. 

Therrien sometimes enjoys going on walks or hikes either by herself or with family to find inspiration for her paintings. When experiencing some trouble thinking of the next project idea, she enjoys painting leaves. Painting leaves is a way to continue creating while possibly helping to inspire a new project idea. When the objects she is painting are small enough, like leaves, she often brings them back to her studio to paint there. While painting outside sounds romantic and lovely, logistically it is quite difficult, and she prefers to work in her studio. When the subject of her painting cannot be brought into her studio, she often takes pictures of it and brings those back to her studio to work with. 

When choosing what to paint in nature she rarely picks the “perfect” leaf, tree, or other subject. She finds great value in painting “imperfect” subjects, such as a cracked up dead leaf or a flower that is missing a petal. Nothing in nature is perfect, and nothing looks exactly the same. Painting things in nature and painting them realistically and “imperfectly” allows for more freedom in her painting style and her paintings. She believes that “you can fall in love with the imperfect.”  One of Therrien’s pieces titled Aerial View of N’dakinna, appears in a Study Guide that the Vermont Abenaki Artist Association created to educate people about the Abenaki and their dress throughout time. The painting of N’dakinna, meaning homeland, is placed next to a geopolitical map of the same area. The painting contains no place names or borders and shows the very “different perspective that the Native people have of the land.” It is a drastic visual shift from the geopolitical map next to it, and it sometimes takes longer for people to recognize the area when portrayed in this way. Therrien herself says that “I know if I hadn’t painted it would take me a little while to place it.”  Her piece challenges European dominated thinking and inspires a new perspective more inclusive of Native people.

Melody (Walker Brook) Mackin: Weaving Core Values Through Time – Part 1

Image of Melody Walker with hand drum.

In spring 2021, Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki) met with the students of “Native Presence and Performance: Reclaiming the Indigenous Narrative,” a first-year seminar offered by Middlebury College. After the meeting, Longtoe Sheehan recommended the students interview and write about VAAA affiliated artists. This blog post is one of a series that were created for that project, respectfully submitted by a student who self-identifies as non-Native.

Due to the length of this narrative, it will be introduced in two parts over a period of two weeks. This is part one.

Annabelle Wyman 24.5 – Middlebury College

Native Presence and Performance – 1 June 2021

Melody Mackin is a wonderful finger weaver, diligent activist, ardent educator, and devoted member of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe. In March of 2021, I had the privilege of speaking with her about this work and what she believes are the important aspects of Abenaki culture and history. Melody was taught to weave by two of her community members, Linda Longtoe Sheehan and Rose Hartwell, both of whom provided her with information on different facets of weaving. She explains that Linda taught her about the value of deliberate, slow, and methodical work while Rose taught her the intricacies of the craft and helped Melody to develop her own style of finger weaving. In the Abenaki community, finger weaving is deeply interwoven with the personality of the artist. The artist who creates the project incorporates their own techniques and methods to the process that bring their own style to the piece. Weaving has not changed much over the thousands of years it has been in existence, and members of the Abenaki community continue the tradition by using the same patterns, techniques, and materials as their ancestors to create a nearly identical product. However, the projects that are completed today are often very different than the ones of the past. Many products that were originally needed are not necessary today. Instead of ceremonial sashes, modern weavers have created pieces such as cell phone cases; beautifully connecting modern needs with traditional practices. 

When Melody first began learning, there were only a limited number of finger weavers left in the community. She used her new skills to teach others in her family and the community, which then helped the number of weavers to multiply. She also took the time to teach non-native people from outside of her community in schools and at gatherings (most notably the Affirming Traditions Conference) in an effort to raise awareness about indigenous art forms. As Melody began to teach weaving to other members of her community, she came to a realization: her students were creating amazing products their first or second time weaving. She explains that her ancestors showed her that she was meant to be a teacher and should use her skills to educate others about the Abenaki community. 

In her book Decolonizing Methodologies, Linda Tuhiwai Smith introduces twenty-five indigenous projects that serve to help Native communities in their attempts to conduct research and renew their tribal identities and culture. She explains that Protecting is a project used to ensure the continuation of oral and cultural tradition. Melody exemplifies this project by using her knowledge and passion for teaching to share her skills with her community and thus protect the art of finger weaving from extinction. As she began to explore her passion for teaching further, Melody worked at Johnson State College where she taught Abenaki history, culture, and spirituality, and Native American history and culture. After Johnson State College, she taught a class called “Making Connections” at Champlain College. This class was about bringing a community together and building cohesive relationships; which is the ideology that shapes Melody’s current work as an educator and mentor in the Abenaki community. Then she went on to Northern Virginia Community College to teach history of western civilization and U.S. history. Melody also gave a wonderful TedTalk entitled, “Weaving a Thread Through the 7 Generations” in which she explains her process of cultural weaving. Cultural weaving is a way to reconnect with the past in order to move through the world in a way that respects your ancestors from the past and in the future. It is done by bringing the core values of the community –– seeing the spirit in all things and understanding one’s role in the community of creation –– into daily life and using them to make decisions in the present for the seven generations. The seven generations that the Abenaki community focuses on are the generations that you can live with, from your great-grandparents to your great-grandchildren. With every decision Melody makes, she works to honor the past, present, and future of her community. Unlike western civilization, the Abenaki community does not focus on the individual, it focuses on everyone, including the ancestors. Melody explained to me that walking in your ancestors’ shoes is a beautiful exercise that helps with this practice. She says that “the whole point of the seven generations is to understand where you’ve been to understand where you need to go.” This is a beautiful practice that could deeply change the culture of the U.S. In fact, Melody contends that if everyone made decisions based upon respect for their ancestors in the past and present, the world would be a much better place.

Abenaki Heritage Weekend

When: June 18-19, 2022

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 18 and 19 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 heritage_weekend@abenakiart.org.

Special Programs

  • Abenaki Storytelling Project, Vera Longtoe Sheehan
  • A Safe place to be Abenaki, Fred Wiseman
  • Curatorial talk – Vera Longtoe Sheehan will talk about the Neizun Water is Life Exhibition

Artists Featured in the Arts Marketplace

  • Michael Descoteaux
  • Chief Shirly Hook
  • Jeanne Morningstar Kent, gourd art
  • Linda Longtoe Sheehan, wampum
  • Roger Longtoe Sheehan, carved pipes and blades

Tentative Schedule

Saturday, 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)
  • 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 19, 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)
Image of Linda Longtoe Sheehan.

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 along with 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

#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. 

Abenaki History

Brightly colored acrylic painting of an Abenaki man and woman standing outdoors, near a river,amd they are wearing historical Abenaki clothing. They are both wearing peaked hoods, white linen shirts are white linen ,and their bottoms are blue and red wool.
Francine Poitras Jones. “18th-Century Abenaki Couple.” 2017. Acrylic on canvas framed with bunches of birch twigs, and feathers hanging from the right side.

FROM THE WESTERN ABENAKI THEN AND NOW BY VERA LONGTOE SHEEHAN

The Abenaki have lived in the region for over 12,000 years. They are sometimes referred to as the Dawnland People because the word Wabanaki translates to People of the Dawn. Historians categorize Abenaki communities into two categories: the Western and Eastern Abenaki. Historically the Western Abenaki people lived in what is today known as Eastern New York, Northern Massachusetts, Southwestern Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and north toward Quebec, Canada. As members of the Seven Nations and Wabanaki Confederacy, Abenakis interacted with their Native American neighbors to the North, South, East, and West on a regular basis.


Upon the arrival of Europeans, disease and warfare caused immeasurable changes in the Abenaki way of life. The Abenakis allied
with the French with whom they traded raw materials for new commodities such as wool, linen shirts, silk ribbons, glass beads, tools, and firearms. As allies the Abenaki and French fought together against the British encroachment into N’Dakinna Abenaki for homeland).

By the late 18th century prejudice and the embattled situation in surrounding areas forced the Abenaki to break up into smaller family bands or clans in order to survive. In the 18th-century, the British burned our long-standing villages of Mission des Loups at the Koas, Missisquoi along the Missisquoi River, and St. Francis which the Abenaki people know as Odanak in Quebec. Little is recorded about the Abenaki in historical accounts of the 19th and the first half of the 20th-centuries. However, our families maintained oral histories and strong traditions from this time. Since the 1970s the Abenaki have been experiencing an interest in cultural revitalization.


Today there are two provincially recognized Western Abenaki tribes in
Canada: the Odanak and Wolinak tribes. In the United States, four Abenaki tribes received State recognition in Vermont in 2011 and 2012: the Elnu, Koasek, Missisquoi, and Nulhegan tribes. According to data from the 2010 census,it is estimated that there are approximately 2,100 Abenakis in Quebec and 3,200 in Vermont and New Hampshire. That is a conservative figure because it doesn’t include non-recognized and unaffiliated Abenaki families.


Events

Indigenous Peoples Day Rocks!

October 8, 2022 (Rain date October 9, 2022) – Stowe Events Field, Stowe, VT

Time: 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Image of ad as seen on Facebook - click on image to be redirected to Facebook.

This will be the 3rd annual event for IDP. Welcoming by Chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe, Performances by the Nulhegan Abenaki Drummers, Abenaki preservationists, exhibitors, storytellers, demonstrations, Indigenous artisans and food vendors. Click here for directions. Rain date is October 9th. Please click here to visit the website for more information.

The Abenaki Storytelling Project is a community-based art project that is being conducted by Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. Stop by the Memory Booth to create art and share your story!
VAAA uses arts and storytelling to uplift regional Abenaki voices and perspectives in museum exhibitions, programs, and cultural heritage events.

The focus of this year’s Storytelling Project is exploring how the pandemic, COVID-19 vaccine-related perceptions, disparities, and access are affecting the Native American population of the region. These insights will help us develop a online and traveling exhibition in 2023.

Visit us our booth to ask questions or participate.


Indigenous Peoples Day Event

October 9, 2022 – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Park, Woodstock, VT

Image of ad as seen on Facebook - click on ad to be directed to Facebook page.

Join Vermont Abenaki Artist Association and Park staff in a celebration of Indigenous Peoples Day. Abenakis will facilitate discussions about Indigenous land management practices, conservation issues, and cultural continuity on this land. Visitors can follow a trail to learn Abenaki words that describe the forest. Click here for a map and more information.


Indigenous Peoples Day Event

October 10, 2022 – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Saint-Gaudens National Park, Cornish, New Hampshire

“Nebi” is the Abenaki word for Water which will be the focus of music, stories, and art making. Vermont Abenaki Artists Association artists will facilitate conversations about local Indigenous views of water. Visitors will also have the opportunity to attend a screening of an interview with an Abenaki canoe maker. Click here for a map.


Forest Festival

September 24, 2022 – 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Park, Woodstock, VT

Visit the ash basket discovery table where Vera Longtoe Sheehan will be discussing the cultural significance of the ash tree to local Native American people and demonstrating how to make ash splint and sweetgrass bookmarks. Vermont Abenaki Artists Association will also have an information table with cultural resources. Click here to visit the Forest Festival website for more information.


Native American Heritage Month

November events to be announced

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PAST EVENTS

Water is Life: Abenaki Free Arts

SATURDAY AT 11 AM – 3 PM (August 2022)

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

What: Artmaking and Gallery Talk
Where: Brattleboro Museum of Art & Culture, Brattleboro, VT
Ages: Families with children ages 8-12
Cost: Free

Families are invited to learn about Abenaki tribal customs, traditions, and the intersectionality between Abenaki arts and environmental issues. This art program explores the *Nebizun: Water is Life traveling museum exhibition and the 50th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act.

*Nebi is the Abenaki word for water and Nebizun means medicine.

● Children must be accompanied by adults.
● Space is limited to first come, first served.
Co-hosted by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association
and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center

Sample of artwork that will be created by children attending the program.
Sample of artwork to be created during the program

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2022 AT 10 AM

Water is Life: Abenaki FREE Arts for Little Ones (10:00 am)

Event by Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Abenaki Arts & Education Center

Public  · Anyone on or off Facebook

Registration Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/…/tZModOigrDgjGtzr6wmZmr5KSNKEe…

During this virtual artmaking session, families will meet the artist Francine Poitras Jones, creator of the painting Water is Life. Together your family will explore the Abenaki relationship between water and the People. Focus will be on caring for our precious water. Francine will share songs and storytelling and then the children will participate in creating artwork similar to the painting that is currently at the *Nebizun: Water is Life exhibit.

*Nebi is water in Abenaki and Nebizun means medicine. Our water is medicine for our bodies.

What: Music, Storytelling, and Artmaking
Where: Zoom
Ages: The program is geared towards children ages 4 through 7
Cost: Free

Space is limited to first come – first served.
Art kits will be provided free of charge.
Cutoff date for registration is July 21st.
An adult must be present

Co-hosted by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center

The *Nebizun: Water is Life exhibition is currently on view at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Brattleboro Museum of Art & Culture.


Image of the artist, Francine Poitras Jones, creating the painting called Water is Life and information about the program.
Image of the presenter creating Water is Life painting

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2022 AT 3 PM – 4:15 PM

Water is Life: Abenaki FREE Arts for Families (3:00 pm)

Online event

Registration Link:
https://us06web.zoom.us/j/81013160600…

During this virtual artmaking session, families will meet the artist Francine Poitras Jones, creator of the painting Water is Life. Together your family will explore the Abenaki relationship between water and the People. Focus will be on caring for our precious water. Francine will share songs and storytelling and then the children will participate in creating artwork similar to the painting that is currently at the *Nebizun: Water is Life exhibit.

*Nebi is water in Abenaki and Nebizun means medicine. Our water is medicine for our bodies.

What: Music, Storytelling, and Artmaking
Where: Zoom
Ages: The program is geared towards children ages 4 through 7
Cost: Free

Space is limited to first come – first served.
Art kits will be provided free of charge.
Cutoff date for registration is July 21st.
An adult must be present

Co-hosted by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center

The *Nebizun: Water is Life exhibition is currently on view at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Brattleboro Museum of Art & Culture.

Image of children creating art and information about the Water is Life Abenaki Free Arts program.

Water is Life: Abenaki FREE Arts at Museums

July 29, 2022 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Young people and their caregivers are invited to learn about Abenaki tribal customs, traditions, and the intersectionality between Abenaki arts and environmental issues. This art program includes a spotlight tour of the the *Nebizun: Water is Life exhibit with the curator and a hands-on art program. Children must be accompanied by adults.
Space is limited to first come, first served.
Co-hosted by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association
and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center


Image of Vera Longtoe Sheehan from a screen shot.
Vera Longtoe Sheehan

Triple Threat: American Abenaki Erasure and Continuity of Culture

July 17, 2022 at 3:30 PM

We welcome you to come listen to the first of our 2022 talks, with Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Executive Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and founder of the Abenaki Arts and Education Center. This event will take place Sunday, July 17 3:30 PM at the Brownington Congregational Church at the intersection of Hinman Settler Road and Old Stone House Road.
The Green Mountain State has a continuous history that began with colonization and continues to this day. This discussion will cover the three E’s of Abenaki Erasure, Eugenics, and Ethnocide, as well as the strength and resiliency of the American Abenaki people who continue to persevere in the face of adversity. Join Vera Longtoe Sheehan at the Brownington Congregational Church at 3:30 PM with discussion to follow.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan is an educator, activist and artist. As the Executive Director of Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and founder of the Abenaki Arts and Education Center she bridges the gap between the Native American and Non-Native communities by developing dynamic museum exhibitions, cultural heritage events, educational programs and resources. She formerly worked at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. She earned her MALS in Interdisciplinary Studies and BA in Museum Studies and Native American Studies from SUNY, Empire State College. She currently serves on the Vermont Humanities Council Executive Board and the Act 1 Task Force examining State K-12 education policies and standards with regard to Ethnic Studies. Vera is an enrolled citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe and a Master Fiber Artist.

Nebizun Celebration & Curator Talk

June 24, 2022, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm

Brattleboro Museum & Art Center

All are welcome to a special celebration and curator talk for Nebizun: Water is Life, a multimedia art exhibit that explores the Abenaki relationship to water. The exhibit is presented in partnership with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center.

Curator Vera Longtoe Sheehan will discuss the exhibit, Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan will attend the event, and Abenaki musicians will perform. Food and drink will be served outdoors.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan is an artist, educator, and activist who has lectured and exhibited her work nationally and internationally. For over twenty-five years, she has combined her Indigenous heritage, her knowledge of regional history, and her passion for artistic creation to offer programs for schools and museums. She is the director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, and the founder of the Abenaki Arts & Education Center. Her twined bags, baskets and textiles reside in museums and private collections and can be seen in films and literature.

ADMISSION: Free


ABENAKI HERITAGE WEEKEND

Image of Basket maker and two children squatting, while he teaches them how to make ash splints, by pounding on an ash tree log, with a short handled sledge hammer.
Abenaki basketmaker, Aaron Wood, showing children how he prepares ash splints for making baskets.

June 18 – 19, 2022

Join the Native American community for a virtual Abenaki Heritage Weekend on June 18th to June 19th.  This special weekend, organized by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, Abenaki Arts & Education Center, and Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, gives visitors an Abenaki perspective on life in the Champlain Valley. More details coming soon on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Learn more about the weekend by clicking here. We invite you to contact us with specific accommodations you need to facilitate your participation in programs, workshops or any other questions you have. Send emails to heritage_weekend@abenakiart.org

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

#Abenaki #heritage #weekend #VAAA


While surveying wampum in museum collections, I encountered a unique category of ethnographic objects: Northeastern Native American wooden clubs and wooden bowls embedded with wampum beads. These seventeenth century objects include beads that— from the obvious evidence of drilled holes and traces of fiber weft — appear to have been removed from a woven object (likely a collar or belt) and set into a wooden object. Heretofore, these wampum inclusions have been interpreted as merely adornment. Yet, the meticulous placement of these repurposed beads (e.g., inside a burl bowl, or along the spine of a war club) signals more than decorative purposes. The act of transforming a wampum belt (typically a tool of diplomacy) into a war club (typically a weapon of conflict) is best understood by considering the ontological and ritual details that inspire and inform the material expression of symbolic messaging in these and other objects of power.

Image of Jean O'Brien.

Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England” with Jean M. O’Brien 

Thursday, April 28, 2022 —  4:00 pm EST (75 minutes)

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.

FREE (Registration required)

Zoom link will be sent out to all registrants via email


Image of the book cover Firsting and Lasing by Jean M. O'Brien.

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

Registration Link:  https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAqcu2rqT8jGtZQUzfo2mRXqNLzGc2OixV9

SAVE THE DATE!




Image of news room button with link to news room page.
Click here for News Room.

“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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Calling All Abenakis

Support local indigenous research and ways of knowing; participate if you’re eligible or share to spread the word. I’m looking to reach all Abenakis across N’dakinna. The survey is available at www.tinyurl.com/AbenakiFood

This is open to *all* Abenakis, regardless of:
– tribal affiliation
– which country you live in
– whether you or your tribe are currently recognize
d or have Indian status

 

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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