Abenaki Storytelling Project Memory Booth in Benson August 20, 2022

The Abenaki Storytelling Project, a community-based arts and storytelling project that focuses on Native American strength and resiliency, will host a Memory Booth at the Nulhegan Abenaki Gathering in Benson, VT on Saturday August 20, from 10-5. The Storytelling Project’s Memory Booth, developed by Abenaki community members to help process their COVID-19 experiences, will be gathering input from Native Americans in Vermont. The Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe welcomes the public to attend the Gathering, which features Abenaki vendors, drumming, singing, dancing, and activities such as storytelling and games. The event is held rain or shine.

“Abenaki artists will set up a Memory Booth where families can share their stories and artwork at the Nulhegan Abenaki Gathering,” says Vera Sheehan, VAAA Executive Director. “Working over the past several months with Abenaki community members, we developed the Abenaki Storytelling Project to explore this recent period of our collective history in a way that hasn’t been done before.” Memory Booth participants will receive an Abenaki Artists Association t- shirt. They can also mark the occasion with a photo taken on site. Sheehan went on to explain, “For this project, VAAA’s team of trained artist facilitators are collecting stories and process drawings using Abenaki methodology and worldviews. Interpretation of the artwork and stories will inform an upcoming online digital exhibition and a traveling museum exhibition. It’s important for Native American people to see themselves and their communities reflected in exhibitions.”

VAAA began collecting Native American stories and artwork in June at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend in Vergennes, VT. The project continues at the Nulhegan Abenaki Gathering when community members can stop by the Storytelling Project’s Memory Booth to learn more about the project or to share stories and artwork.

Memory Booth participants will receive an Abenaki Artists Association t-shirt. They can bring and share a digital photograph of themselves wearing protective masks or mark the occasion with a photo taken on site. Additional opportunities to participate in the project through focus groups and extended one-on-one storytelling sessions will be posted on the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association’s website and on Facebook.

Visual artists interested in submitting work to be considered for the online and traveling exhibition can contact Abenaki@abenakiart.org for more information. Additional opportunities to participate in the project through focus groups and extended one-on-one storytelling sessions will be posted on the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association’s website and on Facebook. The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is a Native American arts organization that works to connect Vermont communities 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.

Sheehan says the VAAA uses insights from Native American arts and storytelling to uplift Indigenous peoples’ voices and perspectives. “Like other populations in Vermont, health disparities and social and historical injustices have taken a very real toll on our lives,” said Sheehan. “This project is a unique way for the Abenaki people to process, interpret, and share their own experience about the pandemic and vaccinations, and health access and other disparities – experiences that we hope will have a strong influence on the state’s efforts to build a culture of health equity.”

Ruth Steinmetz, a Health Department communication officer who focuses on health equity, said her agency has made achieving health equity a top priority. “Key to reducing persistent negative
health outcomes is building trust-based community partnerships,” said Steinmetz. “The Storytelling Project is an important opportunity for us to gain more understanding of the experiences of Indigenous communities in culturally affirming ways. We can then tap into this
information to help us to more effectively support the health and wellbeing of the Abenaki community, and all people in Vermont.”


To learn more about the Storytelling Project, please visit
abenakiart.org/blog9/storytelling-project/


To learn more about the Nulhegan Gathering, please visit
https://abenakitribe.org/heritage-gathering


Find out more about Health Equity in Vermont at
healthvermont.gov/health-equity

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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