Bridging Perspectives Speaker Series (2024)

Bridging Perspectives - Indigenous narratives, identity, and healing - Speaker Series

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association annual Speaker Series is a timely exploration into the context of Abenaki Indigenous experiences and narratives. This year’s series aligns with our vision for Abenaki Unity, presenting vital topics that resonate with the challenges faced by Indigenous communities across North America, including the American Abenaki Tribes.

All opinions expressed by the Program Presenters are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the program hosts, program partners, and sponsors.

More sessions and dates will be announced soon.

Sponsored by

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March 7, 2024

“Who is a “Legal” Indian? – Navigating Federal and State Laws in the US and Canada” with Paul-René Tamburro

This thought-provoking session addresses the ongoing struggle for individuals to assert their right to declare and determine their own cultural identity, seeking equitable representation within larger mainstream communities and governmental entities.  Navigating Federal and State Laws in the US and Canada, Paul-Rene Tamburro will explain who is Indian biologically, politically, and culturally. This program will unravel the complexities of Indigenous identity within the legal framework, examining federal and state laws that shape recognition and rights for tribes, with a focus on the Abenaki community. Join us in navigating the intricate terrain of Indigenous identity, acknowledging unique challenges, and shedding light on the legal landscape that significantly impacts these communities.

Paul-René Tamburro, PhD Anthropologist with an MA in Linguistics and MSW in Indian Child Welfare, is Director of Sunrise Drum, Inc. an internationally-focused Indigenous cultural studies organization. He has taught at numerous universities and colleges in the US and Canada, including Indiana University, Indiana State University and Purdue University in Indiana, taught at Heritage University in Washington State and served as Director of the Reservation Based/Community Determined Program at The Evergreen State College (TESC); and taught at University College of the Cariboo, and Thompson Rivers University (TRU) in Kamloops BC, Canada, in Washington State. Read More . . . link to Sunrise Drum website.

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

All opinions expressed by the Program Presenters are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the program hosts, program partners, and sponsors.


March 21, 2024

Intergenerational Trauma: Healing and Resilience – Andrea Tamburro, MSW, EdD.

This 60-minute Zoom program provided a space to discuss the enduring impact of colonization, which triggers both past and current struggles for Native American individuals and families, with a particular focus on the Abenaki and other Northeastern tribes. Together, we aim to foster a deeper understanding and create a supportive dialogue around current challenges stemming from historical injustices that continue to affect communities today. Dr. Tamburro will explore healing practices that play a pivotal role in bringing communities together and promoting resilience. This program offers a journey of mutual understanding, healing, and resilience, fostering stronger and more connected communities for a better future.

Andrea Tamburro (Piqua Shawnee) has extensive teaching and research experience in both Indigenous and non-Native settings. She was education director for a federally recognized tribe, has served as coordinator of multicultural programs in a mental health center, and as family services and mental health specialist in early childhood education programs. She continues to teach about Indian Child Welfare and Multi-generational trauma. Read More . . . link to Sunrise Drum website.

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

All opinions expressed by the Program Presenters are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the program hosts, program partners, and sponsors.


April 4, 2024

Remembering The Dawn Land: A presentation on the historical novel Dawn Land by its author, Joseph Bruchac.

The area we now refer to as Western New England has been the homeland of Native people for at least 10,000 years. Relying on oral traditions and the related elements of natural history, archaeology, cultural survival, indigenous language, and the living land itself, the author takes us back to that ancient time. The heart of the story is the hero’s journey, with his faithful dogs by his side, of the book’s main character Young Hunter. The program will include discussion of how the novel — and its main characters — came to be, the telling of some of the stand alone stories from the book, and a Q&A session at the end. Award-winning author, storyteller, and musician, Joseph Bruchac has published work in virtually every genre since his first collection of poetry in 1971. The author of over 180 books, his novel Code Talker was recently listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 best YA books of all time. His experiences include three years of volunteer teaching in West Africa, eight years of running a college program inside a maximum security prison, and half a century of studying and teaching such martial arts as pentjak-silat and Brazilian jiu-jitsu. The current Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs, New York, he’s the Executive Director of the Ndakinna Education Center, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, and an enrolled citizen of the Nulhegan Abenaki tribe.

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

All opinions expressed by the Program Presenters are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the program hosts, program partners, and sponsors.


April 4, 2024 06:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Inoculating Whiteness: Settler Colonialism, Whiteness, & Infectious Diseases in Sheet’ka – Adam Kersch, Ph.D.

When colonizers arrived in Sheet’ka (Sitka, Alaska), the homeland of the Tlingit people, they imported devastating infectious diseases. Russian and Euro-American colonizers’ writings describe these diseases as a marker of colonizers’ self-assumed superiority. Colonizers saw vaccines as introducing a material part of European technology that would ultimately lead to Tlingit people’s acceptance of Russian and American colonial rule. In other words, they saw vaccines as inoculating Tlingit people with whiteness. Research on this project involved archival analysis, interviews, and participant observation. It began after receiving permission from Sitka Tribe of Alaska’s Tribal Council and included reports to the Tribal Council on vaccine hesitancy during the pandemic. This talk will discuss over 200 years of colonial history and how colonizers used ideas about infectious diseases and vaccinations to justify attempted ethnocide. It will also discuss how Tlingit leaders responded to other manifestations of whiteness during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Adam Kersch (he/they) is a Jewish-American researcher whose work has focused on race, public health, policy, and immigration. They are committed to community-led and community-oriented research and engaging with both academic and non-academic audiences. He works in memory of his grandparents, who survived attempted genocide.

After completing his dissertation – which focused on race, settler colonialism, and public health policy during infectious disease outbreaks in Sheet’ká (Sitka, Alaska) from 1800 to present – he earned his PhD in anthropology at the University of California, Davis in 2022. His masters research – completed in 2016 with the Department of Anthropology at the University of Central Florida – examined how refugees, asylum-seekers, and undocumented immigrants in Sicily navigated gaps in European Union and Italian healthcare policies. In their spare time, Adam enjoys spending time with their wife and dog, writing music, hiking, spending time outdoors, reading, and crafting. Adam is immensely grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from the TRC and Vermonters.

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

All opinions expressed by the Program Presenters are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the program hosts, program partners, and sponsors.


Bridging Perspectives Speaker Series - Fred Wiseman, PhD - A Case Study in Continuity of Culture

May 2, 2024

Hunting and Fishing: A Case Study in Cultural Continuity – Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D.

This event is FREE, but donations are appreciated.

American Abenaki people in Vermont were and are culturally competent in many types of Indigenous hunting and trapping techniques as well as the use of traditional hunting spirituality. They have used sophisticated Native American technologies such as canoes and snowshoes to get to hunting grounds, stayed in the field in wigwams or tents, fished with spears and handlines, hunted and killed game with lances, bows, and guns, and brought it back to camp for processing. Wiseman presents abundant evidence of these activities in the form of objects, tools, historic photographs, family stories and distinctive skills passed down through generations of Abenaki families all with good documented historical Vermont provenance.

Dr. Wiseman trained as a Paleoethnobotanist at the University of Arizona’s Laboratory for Paleoenvironmental Studies and has done botanical, phytogeographic and ethnobotanical fieldwork in the American Southwest and Northwestern Mexico. After serving as Assistant Professor of Biogeography in the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Louisiana State University and as Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Center for Materials Research in Archaeology and Ethnology, where he taught courses on the ecology of the rise of Indigenous American Civilization, Wiseman returned to his Vermont roots, to teach and do research at the former Johnson State College until his retirement as Professor and Department Chair in 2014.  Since 1987, he has focused on the Indigenous Wabanaki people of the far Northeast, having published popular and academic books, curricula and film on modern Indigenous culture, prehistoric archaeology, and Contact Period ethnohistory, politics and technology.

He was instrumental in the research and political advocacy that led to four Vermont Indigenous bands being recognized by the State of Vermont, for which Wiseman was awarded the first Lifetime Achievement Award by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. In 2018, Wiseman was honored for his work in Wabanaki revitalization in a special ceremony at Indian Township, Maine. Daniel Nolette, executive Director of the Odanak First Nation’s tribal government, recently “praised Wiseman’s work” (“A false narrative….,” Vtdigger.org, 11/14/2023), and on 11/30/2023 Odanak Chief Rick Obomsawin invited him to present his work to the Tribe.

His experience in Wabanaki and ethnobotanical studies have been brought to bear on the archaeological and Colonial Period ecology and subsistence of Northeastern Indigenous peoples and their neighbors. With his help, Northeastern Native Communities from Maryland to New Brunswick are reviving their interrupted deep-time agricultural systems, working with experimental gardens to re-configure an almost lost Northeastern agricultural heritage. He has partnered with Vermont Organics Reclamation of St. Albans, VT to create the first Northeastern agroforest based upon his paleoenvironmental work in ancestral Indigenous ecosystem management. His recent work focuses on American Abenaki wellness and trauma response and the specific use of cultural revival as a way of mitigating trauma and working toward individual and community health and wellness.  He has just completed a year-long series of workshops, a response to public concerns regarding Vermont Abenaki cultural legitimacy, consisting of illustrated lectures, demonstrations, exhibits of relevant material culture and discussions of the history of the Abenaki revival, settlement patterns, wellness, language, subsistence, ceremony, and material culture.

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

All opinions expressed by the Program Presenters are solely their current opinions and do not reflect the opinions of the program hosts, program partners, and sponsors.

Traditional Arts Spotlight by Vermont Folklife – Abenaki Basket Making and Fiber Art

Vermont Folklife logo.

Sherry Gould (Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation) and Vera Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki Tribe), are both lifelong artists and their apprenticeship structure is unique. They are both recognized in their communities as expert artists in different art forms. Sherry is a basket maker. In 2006 she became a juried basketmaker through the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen in 2006, being the first Native American artist in the league. Sherry and her husband, Bill, work to maintain basketmaking as part of Abenaki culture through teaching other Abenaki people through traditional arts programs in New Hampshire and Vermont. Sherry is also a state representative in New Hampshire. Vera practices knotting: Abenaki textile weaving using natural fibers such as milkweed (also referred to as twining). She is also an educator and activist, the Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, and the Founder of the Abenaki Arts & Education Center, and previously a Museum Educator and the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

Click here to read the full article on the Vermont Folklife website and listen to recordings by Sherry and Vera

Darryl Peasley

Enrolled Citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation

Darryl Peasley is for the most part a self taught arts and crafts person who creates contemporary style pieces.  He uses his imagination to make his pouches, dance sticks and hats come to life. 

Darryl started in 2003 by creating pouches made of deer skin with fringe with some edge beading, He made some dance sticks from tree branches that spoke to him and a turtle shell purse from a turtle shell that said …”make me into something special” and that’s what he did.  Darryl started vending at Pow Wows and found people really liked his work. Then Darryl introduced top hats and derbies to the Pow Wow circuit at a New Hampshire Intertribal Council event.  Soon Darryl was known as “The Hat Guy”. 

In 2013, Darryl was awarded a NH Council for the Arts Folk Art scholarship that allowed him to apprentice under master bead worker Debbie Bazin Dostie.  During his apprenticeship Darryl demonstrated loom beading at Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum during several of their events. 


Artist Statement

I enjoy working with all sorts of media. I use leather, bone, glass beads and feathers. I use bone beads to create choker style hat bands. I use leather to create the different style pouches or a hat band and glass beads to put a decorative edge on a pouch or hat band.  I like creating loom pieces on the loom I made for my apprenticeship.  My biggest joy is when someone sees one of my creations and they enjoy it as much as I do…that makes my day!   


Affiliations

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association

Abenaki Trails Project

Our Turn: Sharing Community, Rutland Herald. May 4, 2023

Newspaper with News headline

Is Vermont being lobbied for Nuremberg Laws?

Race-based attacks and harmful stereotypes are putting Vermont’s Abenaki communities in jeopardy, and it needs to stop. This week is Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week, yet international special-interest groups are threatening state-recognized Abenaki tribes with cultural erasure in an effort to position themselves for recognition and rights within the United States.

Click here to read the full article in the Rutland Herald.

Abenaki Alliance: Is Vermont being Lobbied for Nuremberg Law? Brattleboro Reformer. May 2, 2023

This is an article.

Race-based attacks and harmful stereotypes are putting Vermont’s Abenaki communities in jeopardy and it needs to stop. This week is Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week, yet international special-interest groups are threatening state-recognized Abenaki tribes with cultural erasure in an effort to position themselves for recognition and rights within the United States.

Using their Canadian status as recognized First Nations, Odanak and Wôlinak in Quebec are using state and federally-funded universities and media organizations to promote their propaganda — threatening to rewrite 12,000 years of Native heritage in the Abenaki homelands now known as the State of Vermont.

Click here to read the full article in the Brattleboro Reformer

Governor Recognized Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week. Saint Alban’s Messenger. May 4, 2023

Newspaper with Press Release as header.

SWANTON — For the fifth consecutive year, Gov. Phil Scott has recognized May 1-7 as Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week.

Abenaki Alliance logo with mountains, water, and sun.The State of Vermont recognizes four Western Abenaki tribes: the Elnu Abenaki, the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi St. Francis-Sokoki Band.

“This week we celebrate andhonor the heritage and culture of the Abenaki people in Vermont,” Scott said in a press release. “Vermont is stronger for the contributions of Indigenous people.” Click here to read the full article.

Vermont Delegation Statement Commemorating Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week. Bernie Sanders/Vermont.gov. April 28, 2023

Newspaper with Press Release as header.

“It is with great honor and respect that we come together to celebrate Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week, the centuries-old culture and rich heritage of the Abenaki people, and the descendants of the Western Abenaki Tribes that originally inhabited the land we now call Vermont. We owe the Abenaki people of Vermont, and Indigenous tribes across this country, an enormous debt, one that can never fully be repaid. Today we are incredibly fortunate that the four bands of Vermont – the Elnu Abenaki tribe; the Nulhegan band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation; the Koasek Abenaki of the Koas; and the Missisquoi, St. Francis-Sokoki band – have preserved and continue to share their traditions, from their art and music to their dedicated stewardship of their traditional homeland. During this week of recognition and celebration, and every day, we are honored to stand with the Abenaki Tribes of Vermont and Indigenous peoples all across the country.” Click here to visit Senator Sanders’ website.

Vermont Native Communities Support the Vatican’s Repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery”

Long-awaited opportunity to move forward after 500+ years of cultural annihilation

Vermont Business Magazine On March 30, 2023, a joint statement (link is external) from Roman Catholic Church leaders formally acknowledged and took accountability for “the terrible effects” of more than 560 years of assimilation policies and the resulting “pain experienced by indigenous people.” Click here to read more . . .

Water is Life Teach In

Bookmark for Water is Life Teach-in.
Bookmark for Water is Life Teach-in.

The Abenaki Arts & Education Center is excited to announce the Water is Life Abenaki Teach-In on March 25, in Vergennes, VT.

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In this all-day workshop, Abenaki Arts & Education Center educators will inspire teachers with interactive, media-rich content that links 12,000 years of Abenaki history with 21st-century civic engagement. Participants will pursue a deeper understanding of the region’s diversity through the voices of the American Abenaki people.

From Lake Champlain to the Connecticut River Valley, the life-bringing waters of N’Dakinna (Abenaki for “Our Homeland”) were our earliest highways for travel. The water itself is important to the plants, fish, animals, birds, and other wildlife that are necessary to our way of life.

Presenters will illustrate the Abenaki relationship to water, awareness of water as a fundamental element necessary for all life, and concern that pollution of water can change our traditional lifeways and the health of all our relations, human and animal.

Participants will investigate resources, interaction with Abenaki culture bearers, and be introduced to culturally responsive and sustaining teaching strategies to effectively incorporate diverse narratives into their curriculum.

Registered teachers and homeschoolers will also be invited to attend additional virtual sessions, and be given access to additional bonus content.The program is presented in partnership between Abenaki Arts & Education Center, and Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, and supported in part by Vermont Humanities.

Four Abenaki tribes were recognized by the State of Vermont following an arduous process which included proving their ancestry and enduring community presence in Vermont. After reviewing tribal recognition applications and verifying the data, the Vermont state legislature voted unanimously three times to recognize the tribes. Gov. Peter Shumlin codified their legal status as Native American tribes for the Elnu and
Nulhegan Abenaki Tribes in 2011 and the Koasek and Missisquoi Abenaki Tribes in
2012. Their legal status as state recognized tribes is now codified into Vermont law.
The teacher training will be held at The Bixby Memorial Free Library in Vergennes, VT.
“The Bixby follows the Vermont Forward Plan and Vergennes City COVID guidelines.
Masks are welcome but not required. The library has industrial HEPA room air purifiers
installed throughout the building, eliminating unwanted dust particles, germs, and
contaminants” says Amber Lay, Assistant Director of the Bixby Library.

For more information and to register for the teacher training please visit https://abenaki-edu.org/

Abenaki Arts and Education Association logo.



WCAX CBS 3 News

Speaker series shares views of American Abenaki heritage

Screenshot of WCAX3 Speaker Series YouTube video.

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) – Local Abenaki artists are encouraging people to open their minds to different perspectives.

The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in February and March is presenting the “Two-Eyed Seeing” speaker series, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, director of the VAAA says two-eyed seeing is a way of viewing the world from both an indigenous and western perspective. She says the goal of the series is to help folks see the bigger picture.

“I’m hoping everyone comes away with this idea that we have this amazing world and so many different types of people and to bring diverse perspectives to the way we look at archaeology . . . read more

Article in The Montpelier Bridge: Two-Eyed Seeing: Abenaki Speaker Series

Darlene Kascak and Vera Longtoe Sheehan at the American Institute for Native American Studies.
Left, Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation), Education Director of the Institute for American Indian Studies and Traditional Native American Storyteller, with Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki Tribe), Executive Director, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Abenaki Arts and Education Center, in the IAIS exhibit gallery with Nebizun: Water is Life. Photo courtesy of the Institute for American Indian Studies.

In honor of World Water Day on March 22, the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) is presenting “Kwanitekw (Connecticut River): The Sustainer of Life.” The event is the third in the organization’s “Two-Eyed Speaker Series” that started Feb. 21. The term “Two-Eyed Seeing,” was coined by Mi’kmaw Nation Elder Albert Marshall, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan said in an email to The Bridge. “As Marshall explains, “Etuaptmumk — Two-Eyed Seeing . . . refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges . . . read more

Late Period (1890-1970) Indian Baskets In Vermont, PDF Series

by Frederick Mathew Wiseman, Ph.D.

 

Publication from the the Indigenous Vermont Series 2012:9, published courtesy of Wôbanakik Heritage Center.

EXCERPT FROM INTRODUCTION

 “The prime directive of Haven is to reclaim lost, fragmented or otherwise damaged cultural practice and belief from Indigenous Vermont, and to a certain extent, applicable forms of documentation from neighboring areas.  A second important principle is the repair of fragmented or damaged cultural practice by using all available reconstructive/healing tools.  The third function of Haven is to make the repaired information available to those Indigenous Vermonters and their neighbors, who have any interest in reviving lapsed culture.  The fourth reason; and the one that gives Haven its name, is to safely archive this information in a format that will be of use to future Indigenous generations, if the current one is uninterested. 

Probably the one craft that is universally recognized as giving Indian Identity is the ash splint basket.  Although probably not made before the 18th century, Indigenous Vermonters, as well as other regional tribes became masters of the craft.  Much of the early history of Indigenous Vermont Baskets are to be found in other Haven publications.”

Late Period (1870-1970) Indian Baskets In Vermont – Part 1. 11 pages.

  • Introduction
  • Part1: Basket History and Technology & Preparing the materials for the Fancy Basket

Late Period (1870-1970) Indian Baskets In Vermont – Part 1A. 11 pages.

  • Decorative overweave, or “Cowiss”
  • Basket Handles and Hinges

Late Period (1870-1970) Indian Baskets In Vermont.  Part 2. 11 pages.

  • Part Two: Baket Types Represented in Vermont
  • Multi-purpose work and arm baskets

Late Period (1870-1970) Indian Baskets In Vermont Part 2A. 13 pages

  • Knitting and Tatting baskets
  • Baskets for the Hall Table
  • Baskets for the Dining Room
  • An unclassified basket
  • Hampers. goose down baskets and other large, “fancy” baskets
  • Basket for the Field and Lake
  • Bibliography

Back to THE HISTORIC INDIGENOUS ARTS OF  VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850 – 2000, PDF Series

Image of Wabanaki Beadwork Cover.
Book cover

by Frederick Mathew Wiseman, Ph.D.

Publication from the Great Council Fire Project presented courtesy of Wôbanakik Heritage Center.

EXCERPT FROM INTRODUCTION

“This document, a preliminary classification of antique Wabanaki beadwork, has been prepared to assist Wabanaki groups and individuals in understanding the beadwork designs once practiced by their ancestors.  The time may be coming when modern or future craftspeople will need these data to resurrect the ancestral styles, and then move beyond the traditional to developing new designs and interpretations.  Unfortunately, except for early “double scroll” beadwork there is little Wabanaki Beadwork on display or in publication.  Indeed, some of it, especially the mid 20th century  “pan-Indian” styles are being scorned and even discarded by their owners as this is written.  Wabanaki Beadwork 1850-2000 is meant to showcase heretofore unpublished examples from an admittedly small collection of beaded items and imagery of beadwork being worn.  It also attempts to organize these collections in a meaningful way that offers a preliminary stylistic and, to a certain extent, temporal (dating), classification.”

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850 – 2000. Part  1, 13 pages

  • Introduction Post 1850 Wabanaki Beadwork,: Classification, History of research into Wabanaki Beadwork, Iroquoianism, Current Research, Stylistic typology,
  • Double Scroll Beadwork: Early/mid 19th century
  • Geometric Beadwork: Early/mid century.

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850 – 2000.  Part 2, 15 pages

  • The Nested Circ;e style: Maliseet / Passamaquaddy Mid late 19th Century,
  • The Miniature floral style: Penobscot (/Passamaquoddy) Mid late 19th century
  • The Radiant Leaf style: Wabanaki Mid late 19th century
  • The Sunflower Style. Wabanaki and Kahnewake (rare) Mid late 19th Century

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850 – 2000.  Part 3. 11 pages

  • The Sunflower Style. Wabanaki and Kahnewake (rare) Mid late 19th Century (continued): The flat bag
  • Passmaquoddy Beadwork (Unclassified) Mid-late 19th century
  • The Figural Style. Wabanaki / Kahnawake Late 19th century
  • Netted Beadwork With a Wabanaki Provenance Mid-Late 19th century

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850 – 2000.  Part 4. 12 pages.

  • The Niagra Style. Wabanaki / Iroquois Late 19th/early 20th century
  • The Pan Indian Style.  Wabanaki ca. 1920-late 20th century

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850 – 2000.  Part 5. 8 pages.

  • Wabanaki Revival Styles. Wabanaki Late 20th century
  • Miscellaneous Abenaki Beadwork Types. Mid-late 19th century
  • Bibliography

Back to THE HISTORIC INDIGENOUS ARTS OF  VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE

About Us

The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association was a long time in the making. After the state of Vermont recognized the four tribes, we realized there was a need to collaborate so that our artists could be found. Please read Our Story, which follows, and then click on Abenaki History for detailed information about the types of art created by our people in the past and present.

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Abenaki Historic Art↗

Learn about the historic Indigenous arts of Vermont and New Hampshire.

Current Shows ↗

Stay updated and see our current exhibitions here.

Our Artists

Artists are organized by media and skill level.

Speaker Series Shares Indigenous and Scientific Views of American Abenaki Heritage

In February and March, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) is pleased to present the 2023 Two-Eyed Seeing Speaker Series. The term “Two-Eyed seeing,” coined by Mi’kmaw Nation Elder Albert Marshall, describes the experience of seeing the strength of Indigenous knowledge with one eye and the strength of Western knowledge with the other. Series speakers will share perspectives on community relationships to regional waterways, including archaeology, ecology, advocacy, Western and Indigenous science, and more. Admission is free, and donations are welcome.

Image of Vermont Humanities logo.

All programs in the Two-Eyed Seeing Speaker Series are presented on Zoom, thanks to support from the Vermont Humanities and Vermont Arts Council.

Image of Vermont Arts Council logo.

February 21, 7pm. Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D. presented Heritage Forensics: Rethinking Indigenous Ways of Knowing in an Increasingly Dangerous World. Since the 1990s, Indigenous research has moved toward awareness of many different truths, each depending on one’s cultural or political perspective. “Politicized rewriting of Native history poses a distinct threat to such emerging Indigenous ways of exploring the world,” says Dr. Wiseman. “Indigenous and scientific ways of knowing can work together to preserve a legitimate American Abenaki biocultural history and worldview.”
Registration Closed

Image of ancestral American Abenaki beadwork from Waterville, Vermont, created about 1845, was identified by Dr. Wiseman. Vermont Indigenous Heritage Center Collection

Image: This ancestral American Abenaki beadwork from Waterville, Vermont, created about 1845, was identified by Dr. Wiseman. Vermont Indigenous Heritage Center Collection

March 7, 7pm. A Deep Presence and a More Inclusive History. Rep. Sherry Gould (Nulhegan Abenaki), member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives, and Dr. Robert Goodby of Monadnock Archaeological Consulting are long-time friends and collaborators. As charter members of the New Hampshire Commission on Native American Affairs, Sherry served as Chair and Bob was the representative appointed by the New Hampshire Division of Historical Resources. Their work together includes educational projects funded by the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Abenaki Trails Project that seeks to honor and share a more inclusive history of the Abenaki people and to highlight historical Abenaki sites. Registration closed

Image of Sherry Gould.
Rep. Sherry Gould (Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe)  
Image of Dr. Robert Goodby.
Dr. Robert G. Goodby

March 22, 7pm. Kwanitekw (Connecticut River): The Sustainer of Life. In honor of World Water Day, a panel of Indigenous citizens and environmental scientists share multiple perspectives on living in relationship with the Connecticut River watershed. Panelists include Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation) Education Director of the Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS) and Traditional Native American Storyteller; Vera Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki Tribe) and Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Abenaki Arts & Education Center; Kathy Urffer, River Steward with the Connecticut River Conservancy; and Matt Devine, Fisheries Biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Gabriel Benjamin, Public Historian and IAIS Museum Educator serves as Moderator. Register in advance for this meeting:
https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwtcuGvpj0rHNSwpRzRKqYc05cw7RmeL4ix
                          

Image of Vera Longtoe Sheehan with denim Tolba jacket.

Most recently, Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki Tribe) curated the exhibit Nebizun: Water is Life, which is touring New England 2022-2024.

Image of , Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation).

As a traditional Native American storyteller, Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation) understands the importance of educating both young and old about the many misconceptions and stereotypes about her ancestors, providing children and adults the opportunity to have a new understanding of Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples both in the past and in the present.

Image of Matt Devine is a Fisheries Biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Matt Devine is a Fisheries Biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

As a River Steward, Kathy Urffer works to protect and restore the Connecticut River and its tributaries. She enjoys re-learning about the natural world through the eyes of her two children.


Image of Vermont Humanities logo.

VAAA is grateful for the support for this Speaker Series from the Vermont Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed do not necessarily represent those of the Vermont Humanities.

Program partners for the Two-Eyed Seeing Speaker Series include Abenaki Arts and Education Center (AAEC), Abenaki Trails Project, the Connecticut River Conservancy, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CDEEP), Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS), and Monadnock Archaeological Consulting LLC.

Image of small dark blue AAEC logo.
Image of Abenaki Trails logo.
Image of American Indian Studies logo.
Image of Connecticut River Conservancy logo.
Image of CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection logo.
Image of Monadnock Archealogical Consulting logo.

Congratulations to Joe Bruchac for becoming the first Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs, NY!

To read the story published by the New York State Writers Institute about this honor that has been given to Joe Bruchac, please click here.

Joe Bruchac

On Tuesday, January 17, 2023, Joseph Bruchac was honored as the first Poet Laureate of Saratoga Springs at a ceremony that took place at 7 p.m. at Saratoga Springs City Hall, 474 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is privileged to call Joseph Bruchac one of our own. His titles are many: author, writer, Doctor, poet, Tribal Elder, storyteller. His children’s books (and there are over 120 of them) can be found in most school libraries.

Google for Collaborating Artists

Tablet showing the Google search bar.
Google provides a platform called Google Workspace for text, spreadsheets, and slides.
  • Google Workspace for Organizing Artist Collaborations: Part 1- Introduction to Google Workspace and Creating a Gmail

This is part one of a four-part series designed to give artists an overview of how to collaborate using Google Workspace tools such as Gmail, Docs, Slides, and Sheets including examples of how each tool can be used by artists. Part 1 in this series includes a primer to teach you how to start a Gmail account, how to perform a Google search, and a tour of the Google Workspace. Click on this link to start the video: https://youtu.be/YAQbe3lqtM0

  • Collaborating with Google Workspace and Zoom (First part of Part 2)

When you are collaborating in Zoom, a colleague may drop a link into the chat box so the group can edit a Google Doc at the same time. This video shows you how to minimize your windows so you can view the Zoom screen share and Google Doc at the same time. It will also show you how to find your Zoom Window if you lose track of it. This training is produced through a partnership between the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center. Click on this link to start the video https://youtu.be/eweeaXwmTgE

  • Google Workspace for Organizing Artist Collaborations: Part 2: Google Docs

This is part two of a four-part series, designed to give artists an overview of how to collaborate using Google Workspace tools such as Gmail, Docs, Slides, and Sheets with examples of how each tool can be used by artists.

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Abenaki Organizations

Logo for the Abenaki Alliance

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.

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

Amy Hook-Therrien drawing.

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 two.

Therrien also illustrated the book My Bring Up, which was a memoir written by her mother Shirly Hook and published in 2019. Therrien worked closely with her mother in order to create from memory the most accurate portrayals of different aspects of Hook

Amy Hook Therrien – Acclaimed Abenaki Watercolor Artist – Part 1

Magazine cover with Amy Hook-Therrien doing an illustration.

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

Melody (Walker Brook) Mackin: Weaving Core Values Through Time – Part 2

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 two.

Annabelle Wyman 24.5 – Middlebury College

Native Presence and Performance – 1 June 2021

Melody also uses cultural weaving to move forward from the injustices of the past. When I asked her about the Abenaki history with colonization, she shared the advice of her Chief, Roger Longtoe Sheehan, on rebuilding traditions through the analogy of a broken puzzle. Their community is still trying to piece the puzzle together today, but the painting is different so you can never piece the original one together. However, the ancestors knew that life was going to change, so it is okay for the picture to change, because some traditions no longer fit into the current native culture. Melody thinks that the important thing to ask is

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

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

Contact Us

Contact Us artwork.

Let’s Connect: Reach Out to Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. We’re thrilled to hear from you and to engage in meaningful conversations. Whether you have questions or feedback or simply want to learn more about Vermont Abenaki Artists Association contact us to start the conversation.

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18th Century Abenaki Couple in clothing of that period painted by Francine Poitras Jones.
18th Century Abenaki Couple

General Inquiries: Have a question about our programs, events, or mission? We’re here to provide you with the answers you’re seeking. Feel free to contact us, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Collaborations and Partnerships: If you’re interested in collaborating with us, exploring partnerships, or contributing to our initiatives, we’re excited to explore the possibilities together. Let’s discuss how we can create a meaningful impact.

Feedback and Suggestions: Your insights matter to us. If you have suggestions, ideas, or feedback that could help enhance our offerings, we’re all ears. We’re committed to continuous improvement, and your input is invaluable.

Stay Connected: Connect with us through the channels below to stay up-to-date with our latest news, events, and initiatives. We look forward to connecting with you and sharing the journey ahead.

Book an Exhibition: If you’re interested in bringing one of our traveling exhibits to your location, we’re excited to hear from you. Our exhibits offer a unique opportunity to immerse your community in the richness of Abenaki artistry and culture.

We’re here to make meaningful connections and to ensure your experience with us is rewarding and informative. Please contact our Program Coordinator Elisa with any questions or access needs and she will forward your message to the appropriate person.

Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Phone: (802) 265-0092

 

An Interview With Jim Taylor – Part 3

Jim Taylor wearing headpiece and jewelry.

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 was introduced in three parts over a period of three weeks. This is Part Three.

Jim Taylor

By Tate Sutter

An interview with Jim taylor – Part 1

Jim Taylor wearing headpiece and jewelry.

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 three parts over a period of three weeks. This is part one.

Jim Taylor

By Tate Sutter

Teaching Through Art Creation: An Interview with Francine Poitras Jones – Part 3

Francine Poitras Jones smiling for the camera.

By Faith Wood. Middlebury College. Class of 2024
Native Presence and Performance (First Year Seminar Course)

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.

Poitras Jones believes the United States government has not done nearly enough to heal the wounds it has inflicted upon Indigenous peoples. She

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible to join the VAAA? Traditional and Contemporary Abenaki Artists must be enrolled in one of the four State Recognized Abenaki Tribes – Elnu, Koasek, Missisquoi, or Nulhegan.

Call to Artists button with link to more information.What are the benefits to belonging to VAAA? VAAA is the official artist registry for Vermont’s recognized Abenaki Tribes. It is a tool that we can use to promote our visual and performing artists. Members of the Association will be listed on the artist registry, have a personal webpage page, and can submit events and shows to our calendar.

Are there any restrictions for VAAA membership?

  • You must create your own finished product. No craft kits. 
  • No mass produced products. Approved crafts people and artists will be added as they are approved.
  • Although artists may make multiples of an item such as ornaments or earrings, each item must be handcrafted individually.
  • If you are turned down, you can reapply.
  • ALL items for sale by must be tagged in compliance with the INDIAN ARTS AND CRAFTS LAW. No exceptions.
  • Artists must abide by VAAA membership terms and conditions.

How to request a VAAA membership application? Email [email protected] to request a membership form. Please provide your name, contact information, Abenaki Tribal affiliation, and Tribal ID number. After your status as a citizen in a state recognized Abenaki tribe is confirmed, we will send you a membership application packet with more details and directions.

Please prepare to have good quality photos of your craft/art, an artist statement, and biographical information about you as an artist, such as how you learned what you do and where you may have exhibited your artwork.

Who is responsible for jurying new VAAA artists? The VAAA jury is comprised of fours artists, one from each recognized Abenaki Tribe. Two have degrees in fine art, and two are traditional artists. Master Artists and Consultants are also called upon to help jury art within their area of expertise. When a VAAA committee member applies to be juried or is nominated for an award, they must recuse themselves from voting, and a consultant is appointed in their place.

How can I apply to be rejuried into a new category or artistry group? Submit a letter describing your request with 3 to 5 high resolution images of your work and am updated artist statement. Email your request to [email protected]

Donate

People holding hands and doing the Round Dance.

Support the Heart of our Culture: Your Generous Donation Makes a Difference.

Join us in preserving and celebrating the Abenaki culture through your contribution, enabling us to continue our impactful programs, cultural events, educational initiatives, and the creation of new exhibitions. Every donation is a vital investment in the legacy we cherish.

Questions? Please contact Elisa by email [email protected] or call (802) 265-0092.


THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS, SUPPORTERS, & PARTNERS

Vermont Department of Health logo.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Vermont Folklife logo.
Vermont Arts Council logo.
Vermont Humanities logo.
New England Foundation for the Arts logo
Abenaki Arts and Education Association logo with dark blue background and a white design with double curves and florets and words that say Sharing Abenaki Educational Resources with Classrooms Across N'dakinna.

Artists by Media

Image of gourd with dreamcatcher.
Gourd with dreamcatcher and deer antlers made by Jeanne Morningstar Kent

Traditional arts are listed on the left of the page and contemporary artforms are listed on the right side. They are listed by media.

Artists are organized by media and skill level*.

See definitions of skill levels below.

Click on the artist’s name to view their profiles, images of their art, artist bios, and artist statements.


*ARTIST SKILL  LEVELS*

MCB = Master Culture Bearers have a superior skill level, mentor emerging artists, exhibit their artwork internationally, and have received awards for their artwork or work with and for the community.

M = Master Artists have practiced their craft for at least 10 years are familiar with the history of their art form.  They have exhibited their work, offer workshops and lectures.

J = Journey Person have practiced and sold their craft for at least 5 years.

Crafts-person (C) = Craftspeople are can either be self-taught or had some lessons but they are not doing an apprenticeship with a Master Artist. They do not have the technical expertise to be considered for the Journeyman or Master Artist categories.

A = Apprentices are in the process of learning their craft.


Historic Art

The Historic Indigenous Arts of Vermont and New Hampshire

 By Frederick M. Wiseman Ph.D.

Introduction

When we think of indigenous American craft arts, we immediately think of Navajo rugs and Tahono o’odam (Papago) basketry.  Or perhaps the woodcarvings of the Northwest Coast of North America.  Possibly one of the least recognized historical Native American crafts regions of North America is the Far Northeast, only a few books will mention baskets made by Maine or Canadian Maritime tribes.  However, Vermont and New Hampshire have a vibrant but little known artistic tradition stretching back over 10,000 years.  The oldest artistic works are made of stone, chipped or ground into beautiful but useful tools such as the clean, almost Art Deco-looking lines of Vermont Middle Archaic Period gouges, the tight design of Late Archaic lapidary jewelry, or the evocative rock-carved human face petroglyphs at Bellows Falls.  However, except for stone, and a few pieces of shell, there is little that remains, underground of this rich artistic tradition.  During the So-Called Colonial Era (1609-ca. 1800) the Indigenous Arts of our region are still little understood and seem to resemble those of neighboring tribes.  There are occasional pieces of 18th century quillwork-decorated leather craft or twined basketry residing in museums and private collections illustrating the precise work and artistic flair of the People.  Unfortunately, they are so similar to items made by our Penobscot, Huron and Iroquois neighbors that there has been little effort by art historians to find out what is specific to our region.


Below, are a few examples of older art traditions that have good ties to the VT/NH region and its immediate environs of southern Quebec.  These show a careful choice of material, excellent plotting out the eventual form, and meticulous care in decoration — evidence of a well developed craft tradition that its practitioners were very comfortable with.  Many of our 19th and early 20th-century craft arts seem to have its closest ties to the great multiethnic Indian Village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal, but other traditions especially basketry shows early artistic similarity to Southern New England, while cloth seems more similar to our Wabanaki brethren, showing that our area was a great crossroads of artistic ideas flowing throughout the region.

 Woodcraft

Image of Root club, stylistically similar to the Newport, VT example; early 20th century.
Root club, stylistically similar to the Newport, VT example; early 20th century.

Most Indigenous Vermont and New Hampshire wood craft is very utilitarian, and probably would not be classed as fine or decorative art.  However, some particular forms, such as crooked knives and root clubs have become accepted as valuable craft arts by art historians and critics.  We do see nice examples of these tools that have come from our area, but have a distinct stylistic look.  Root clubs, for example, did not seem to be made and sold in Vermont as tourist items, although very similar looking ones were sold for that purpose at Kahnawake.  These root clubs tend to be carved relatively simply with minimal decoration, usually of fine ink or watercolor delineating bird-like beaks and eyes, rather than the fine carved detailing and painted design demanded by tourist buyers. Instead, we have a documented example that seemed to be used in healing, and another that was used to keep order within a family, indicating that they remained, at least in part, internal cultural implements.

Image of Well designed crooked Knife. Birch Handle, ground-file blade and brass wire wrap. 19th century East side Lake Memphramagog.
Well designed crooked Knife. Birch Handle, ground-file blade and brass wire wrap. 19th century East side Lake Memphramagog.

Another well-designed and executed wooden implement is the crooked knife (often called “basket-knife” in VT).  These distinctive native-design tools seem as rare as root clubs and are almost always entirely utilitarian.  However, one crooked knife with a provenance just north of the Canadian Border in the Southern Eastern Townships of Quebec is finely crafted with beautiful incised and filled detail on the obverse and an artistically sweeping rake to the blade; thereby making a classic pieces of Northeastern Native art.  (Photo to the right)

Image of Twig decoy, Early 20th century, Fitch Bay (east of Lake Memphremogog) QC).
Twig decoy, Early 20th century, Fitch Bay (east of Lake Memphremagog) QC).

In the last 50 years or so decoys have emerged as a great vernacular art tradition, with many fetching many thousands of dollars at auction.  Although there are Vermont decoy carvers with Indigenous heritage their creations are not considered “Indian Art.”  However, a composite twig decoy from the same area as the crooked knife is so similar to the Cree “Tamarack Twig” decoys accepted as legitimate Indian Art that we will list it here.  This is a goose “shadow decoy” constructed of black or river birch twigs and bound with cotton twine.  A Nulhegan band elder remembered their use in middle 20th century cornfields around Lake Memphramagog to attract Canada geese to the shotgun.  When viewed from a distance, the decoy has a wonderful flowing stance, and as the elder said “looks like a goose to another goose..  (Photo to the right)

These few items are only an introduction to the richness of historic Indigenous woodcraft of our region.  Old bowls, spoons, wall-hangings, cups, walking staffs and even furniture remain to this day to grace museums and collections.


Fashion design

Image of Woman's cotton twill dress and red cloth sash ca. 1900 Connecticut River Valley, VT.
Woman’s cotton twill dress and red cloth sash ca. 1900 Connecticut River Valley, VT.

Since the 1970’s, beaded clothing and fashion accessories of our neighbors to the East have become some of the most collected and valuable of any Native American art.  Fortunately, our regional styles have not seen such interest or even study by elite art collectors, and so the materials are still somewhat available and collectable by Indigenous museums and cultural organizations.  I find that some of the late 19th and early 20th century clothing used by basketsellers especially interesting.  It combines European materials such as cloth and ribbons with indigenous motifs to make a distinctive, but underappreciated fashion that I call “cut-cloth Fringe’ style.  We have several examples of this style from the Connecticut River Valley and Lake Champlain which seem to date from the 1890’s to about the beginning of the Great Depression.  The example that I share here is made from a tan twilled cotton with patchwork and ribbon-work detail below the neck and above the hem.  It is sturdy and technically well made, so much so that it is still worn for educational purposes.  (Photo to the right)

Of course everyone wants to know about “Abenaki Beadwork,” and unfortunately, pre-1900 Indigenous Vermont/New Hampshire beaded cloth is the most elusive craft art that remains today.  There is one late 18th/early 19th century beaded moccasin vamp or epaulet that was found in NW Vermont that is in a generalized style that may or may not be Vermont Abenaki, but was at least used here at one point. (Photo below).

Image of Beaded wool panel, Trade wool, silk ribbon, glass beads. Early 19th century, found in Swanton, VT
Beaded wool panel, Trade wool, silk ribbon, glass beads. Early 19th century, found in Swanton, VT
Image of Flat Bag with beadwork. Velvet, cotton liner, glass beads. Mid or late 19th century, probably Abenaki
Flat Bag with beadwork. Velvet, cotton liner, glass beads. Mid or late 19th century, probably Abenaki

Probably a more characteristic style is the mid 19th century “flat bag” or reticule described below.  It has a form related to the typical “tulip” or “inverted keyhole” bag sold by the Eastern Wabanaki people of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.  However, the beadwork itself is distinctive and unlike that of the standard Wabanaki to the East, or the Iroquois styles to the west.  Unfortunately, it has not yet attracted interest of collectors, museums and academics, so it is uncertain exactly whether this is a “Montreal Area,” “Eastern Townships (Quebec) area,” “Vermont area” “or “New Hampshire area” style; or all of the above.  However, I believe that it represents the best candidate style for having been produced here in the mid 19th century. (Photo to the right)


Basketry

Image of Early 19th century ash-splint Basket. Vernon, VT.
Early 19th century ash-splint Basket. Vernon, VT.

The one craft art likely to show up in VT/NH antique shops is ash-splint basketry, and there are many styles and types.  I will illustrate two of the older more utilitarian types that were made before the ubiquitous “sweetgrass” and “cowiss” touristic souvenir baskets that are so common today.  Ash splint basket making in VT/NH basically went extinct in the 1930’s.  Baskets after that time seem to be made by expatriate basket sellers from Canada or Maine who sold tourist goods in places such as the White Mountains Intervale or the shores of Lake Champlain. (Photo to the right)

Image of Turn of the 2Oth century ash splint Basket
Turn of the 2Oth century ash splint Basket

The first early type is from the 1830’s and is more closely related to southern New England basketry, in its “varying splint” construction and the use of stamping and or painting on the wide splints as decoration.  it was probably used like a bandbox, for the storage of lightweight household and fashion goods such as yarn or hats.  The second basket, probably from the third quarter of the 19th century, still retains the varying splints, but now shows direct influence of basketry evolution to the East, in its checkerboard (rectangular) base and the treatment of the radiating splints on the lid.  Instead of being stamped, the wider splints are “daub-dyed” or pigment painted only on the outside before weaving the basket.  The later, turn of the 20th century dyed ash splints are dipped in dye and thus show the color both inside and out.  Both of these early basket styles are relatively uncommon in VT/NH and even less common with a good provenance placing them here in the 19th century.  (Photo to the right)

Image of two coiled horsehair baskets made with brown horsehair foundation and black hair ties left, and black horsehair and white hair ties, right. Probably early 20th century. St Albans, VT
Two coiled horsehair baskets made with brown horsehair foundation and black hair ties left, and black horsehair and white hair ties, right. Probably early 20th century. St. Albans, VT

Another important basket type is the coiled basket.  Even more elusive than early beadwork, coiled basketry is only known from two areas in the Northeast, the Passamaquoddies and a single family in Northwestern VT.  These are tiny items, made from carefully selected and prepared horse-hair, similar to the much more well known Thono O’odam tourist wares.  As with most local wares, there is no historical interest in these beautiful tiny baskets, and we await the continuation of this tradition by young members of the VT basket making family.


Interested in Learning more about the Indigenous Art of Vermont?

Wabanaki Beadwork 1850-2000

Late Period (1890-1970) Indian Baskets In Vermont

Jessee Lawyer

Enrolled Citizen of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi

Juried Artist since 2014
Image of Jesse Lawyer.
Jessee Lawyer

Jessee Lawyer is an enrolled citizen of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi. He i the head chef at Sweetwaters in Burlington and caters special events. As a culinary artist he creates indigenous specialties using Wabanaki ingredients.

Jesse descends from a long line of Indigenous artists. He continues his family tradition as one of the last two Native families in the Northeast who continue to make miniature horsetail coiled baskets. Jessee also hand carves traditional soapstone pipes and contemporary soapstone sculptures. He draws great inspiration from his father who taught him how to carve. As he continues to polish his skills, he is being mentored by two VAAA artists.

 

Artist Statement

As a child, I spent many nights watching my father create art. He worked in many mediums; he was well known for his moccasins and homes that he built. His attention to detail captivated and inspired me. Hand carved feathers and chip carving around doors and windows, decorative stitching graced his moccasins, and subtle lines touched his pipes. He would tell me stories of my grandfather who made miniature horsehair baskets, woodcarvings and would cast miniature animals out of bronze. I absorbed as much knowledge and wisdom as I could from my father and cannot thank him enough for preparing me with the skills and love needed to continue our Abenaki traditions before he passed on to the spirit world.

I have only recently started carrying on my family traditions as well as creating my own style. I try to experiment with many mediums but am focusing on horsehair baskets and soapstone pipes and sculptures for the moment, with moccasins shortly.  I feel a deep connection to both the plant and animal worlds, and try to incorporate them as much as possible in my art, honoring all they provide for us.

 With the knowledge that has been passed to me from previous generations, I have been blessed with the gift of a child on the way. Now there is another generation to carry on our cultural traditions, and another art form for me all-together.

Contact

Email: [email protected]

Image of Cranberry and maple cured duck breast, wild rice, Vermont cranberry bran & butternut ragout, boiled cornbread, and house blueberry and vinegar reduction.
Cranberry and maple cured duck breast, wild rice, Vermont cranberry bran & butternut ragout, boiled cornbread, and house blueberry and vinegar reduction
Image of Jacobs cattle beans, cured duck breast ham, and maple syrup baked in Blue Hubbard Squash.
Jacobs cattle beans, cured duck breast ham, and maple syrup baked in Blue Hubbard Squash
Image of Salt and smoked maple glazed bear jerky.
Salt and smoked maple glazed bear jerky

Exhibits

2016

Parley and Protocol: Abenaki Diplomacy Past and Present. Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Farmington, PA.

2015

Parley and Protocol: Abenaki Diplomacy Past and Present. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Vergennes, VT.

2014     

  • Eastern Woodland Fiber Arts (permanent exhibit), Mt. Kearsage Indian Museum, Warner, NH
  • “Traditional Sources, Contemporary Visions” – Invitational Group Art Exhibit. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
  • All of my Relations: Faces and Effigies from the Native World –  Invitational Group Art Exhibit.  Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, Warner, N.H.

Affiliations

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, Committee Member since 2013

Frederick M. Wiseman, P.h.D.

Enrolled Citizen of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi

Juried Artist since 2013
Dr. Fred Wiseman smiling.

Fred Wiseman teaches Wabanaki decorative arts, ceremonial oratory, dance and song based on historical precedent, but adapted for modern venues and audience.

His most recent (2010-) work focuses on the choreography, stagecraft, regalia and ceremonial accoutrements for dances and ceremonies associated with the agricultural and ceremonial calendar, from Winter solstice observances through spring planting ceremonies, to the various sun dances through the green corn and harvest supper observances. However, in the past, he has worked in other media and formats from “fashion shows” to ceremonial gaming, to the crafting of arms and armor.

Fred uses whatever is necessary to accomplish the goal, from set (stage) design to rock and shell carving to clothing to video and printed word.


Artist Statement

I am a scholar and artist whose purpose is to connect the Indigenous Peoples of Vermont and their environs to their stylistic heritage by all means necessary, whether it be through film/graphic arts, the performing arts or the decorative arts.  Professional goals and objectives revolve first around repatriation, the converting of written data, or archival music artifacts and imagery held by Euroamerican institutions into formats and systems of knowing usable by Indigenous people and organizations for cultural reclamation and revitalization.  Second, it incorporates tradition and revelation as guideposts in this work.  Third it incorporates going beyond recaptured tradition to synthesize antique materials and motifs with the contemporary, to envision an alternative, syncretic stylistic world that could answer –“what if Genocide of Northeastern Natives had been less complete?”  Southwestern and Plains Native styles rooted in deep time arts tradition flourish in the West, why not allow this to happen in Indigenous Vermont? 

My work is not available for sale to the Euroamerican public, it exclusively produced for tribal governments, organizations and citizens and lent or given at no cost to the recipient.  The artist’s designs and productions, ranging from regalia to wampum belts and collars belong to the Pleasant Point and Indian Township Governors (ME), The Citizens of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs (ME), the Grand Chief of the Seven Nations at Akwesasne (NY), and the Chiefs and Tribal Councils of Missisquoi, Nulhegan and Koasek (VT). 

However, my work has been exhibited and studied over the years at the various venues listed below.


Contact

Email: [email protected]

Image of graphic design by Dr. Wiseman.
Frederick Wiseman, Graphic Designer, 2013

Exhibit, event  and performance history: 

1994    “The Spirit of the Abenaki.”  Chimney Point Historic Site. Jewelry and sculpture.

1994-1995  “The Light Of the Dawn.”  Chimney Point Historic Site. Jewelry and wood sculpture

1995 

  • “Shamans, Magicians and the Busy Spider”  Rochester Museum of Art. Rochester, NY. Jewelry and wood sculpture.
  • “Abenaki Dawn”  American Indian Institute.  Washington, CT. Jewelry and wood sculpture.

1996 

  • “Light from the Dawnland”  San Diego Museum of Man.  San Diego, CA. Jewelry and wood

       sculpture.

1998- 2008 Abenaki Tribal museum, Swanton, VT (All museum installations)

1999 The Great Council Fire Performance. The Akwesasne Cultural Center (NY)

2001 

  • “Wabanaki Wampum”  Old York (ME)  Historical Society. Wampum belts
  •  “Notes from the Underground”  Shelburne Museum.  Stone wampum, wood

2001 Kanien’kehaka Raotitionhkwa Culture Centre (Kahnawake QC) “Seven and Six (Nations) Exhibit.

2001-2003 New Hampshire Historical Society Museum, various exhibits and event)

2004     “Wabanaki Memories.  Missisquoi Valley HS Stone, Wampum, wood.

2004 Museé des Abénakis (QC) (my materials are on permanent exhibit there.)

2005   

  • Great Council Fire Exhibition Museé des Abénakis.  Wampum and stonework.
  •  “Against the Darkness” Screened at the Museé des Abénakis (Odanak, QC), March 22, 2005
  • “Against the Darkness” Screened at Mashentucket Pequot Museum. Mashentucket, CT.  Oct. 16, 2005
  •   “Against the Darkness” (35 Minute digital video) Screened at the Vermont Archaeological Society, Oct. 1, 2005

2007 

  • “The Material Heritage of 17th Century Vermont.  Lake Champlain Quadricentennial “Workshop” St. Michael’s College, June 13, 2007

2007-2013 The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, June, Indigenous Heritage Celebration (also           my materials are on permanent exhibit there.)

2008 Passamaquoddy Section of the Downeast Heritage Museum, (ME) (my materials are on            permanent exhibit there)

2010  ECHO Science Center and Lake Aquarium, Materials of Culture: 10,000 years of Abenaki             Attire (also my materials are on permanent exhibit there.)

2010

  • Indian Township Museum (ME), (my materials are on permanent exhibit there.)
  • Wapohnaki Museum (ME) “Language and Object” Exhibit and Discussion.

2011    “Before the Lake Was Champlain” Screened at the New England Antiquities Research             Association Conference, Burlington, VT. October 2011

2013   

  • “1609:the other side of history.” Screened at the Swanton 250th Anniversary
  •  “Dinner and a Movie” Program. Swanton, VT, April 28, 2013

2014     

  • Traditional Sources, Contemporary Visions – Invitational Group Art Exhibit. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
  • All My Relations: Faces and Effigies from the Native World – Invitational Group Art Exhibit. Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, Warner, NH.

2015

Parley and Protocol: Abenaki Diplomacy Past and Present. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Vergennes, VT.

2016

Parley and Protocol: Abenaki Diplomacy Past and Present. Fort Necessity National Battlefield, Farmington, PA.


Publications 

1987  

  • Mapping antiques.  Maine Antique Digest, Waldoboro ME. Feb. 14-15C.
  • Folk art and antiques: a different view.  Maine Antique Digest, Waldoboro, ME
  • The case of the peripatetic candleholder.  Maine Antique Digest, Waldoboro, ME July 34-35 B.

1990   Some Queen Anne furniture of the Federal Period.  Maine Antique Digest, Waldoboro ME

Jan.1991  

  • “The Colchester Jar” pp. 98-99; “Quillwork trinket box; thimble cover, notions basket and pincushion”; “Beaded reticule” pp. 178-183; “Rectangular bark container”, pp. 204-205; and “Tipi and canoe”, pp. 216-217.  In Graff, N.P.
  •  Celebrating Vermont: Myths and Realities.University Press of New England.Hanover
  • American Indian Art and Native Americans. Maine Antique Digest, Waldoboro, ME

1994  

  • Bapwoganal Alnobaiwi: The Games of Wôbanakik  Cedarwood Press.  Underhill, VT.  3 figures. 10 pp.
  • Ngwegigaden, an Abenaki year.(11″ X 17″ Three-color poster and accompanying handbook). Cedarwood Press.  Underhill, VT
  • Wôbanakik(11″ X 17″ Three-color poster map and accompanying handbook) Cedarwood Press.  Underhill, VT
  • We were always here. (9″ X 17″ Two-color poster and accompanying handbook) Cedarwood Press.  Underhill, VT 

1995   

  • The Gift of the Forest. Ethan Allen Homestead Abenaki Handbook Series # 1. Lane Press.  Burlington, VT. 10 figures. 12pp.
  • Wôbanakik, the Ancient Land of the Dawn. (18″ X 24″ Four-color map and accompanying handbook)  Cartography by Kevin Ruelle.  Horseman Press.  Burlington, VT  
  •  Wild Plant Foods of the Abenaki.  Ethan Allen Homestead Abenaki Handbook  Series # 2. Lane Press. Burlington, VT. 12 pp.
  •  Abenaki Clothing  Ethan Allen Homestead Abenaki Handbook Series  # 3. Lane Press.  Burlington, VT. 7 figures. 12pp.
  • An Annotated bibliography and resources list for Abenaki studies.  Cedarwood Press. Underhill, VT.  22 pp.
  •   “New Abenaki Booklets available.”  in The Oracle.  Summer, 1995.  Ethan Allen Homestead.            Burlington VT.  p. 3.
  • “A view from within”  Vermont Humanities.  Winter 1994-95.  Vt. Council on the Humanities, Hyde Park, VT. p. 6.

1996     History in beads.  Historic Roots. Pp. 25-30  Montpelier, VT.

1997     

  • Linda Pearo, Frederick Wiseman, Madeline Young and Jeff Benay.   New Dawn: The Western Abenaki, a Curricular Framework for the Middle Level. Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union Title IX Indian Education Program, 14 First St. Swanton, VT 05488

1997      Wobobial. (18X26 pictorial poster and accompanying handbook)  Abenaki Tribal Museum.      Lane Press, Burlington

2000     The Abenaki and the Winooski.  In  L. Krawitt.  The Mills at Winooski Falls. Onion  River Press.              Pp. 7-10 Winooski

2001     The Voice of the Dawn University Press of New England.  Hanover, NH.

2003    

  • “Abenaki”, “Abenaki Heritage Days” p. 31; “Mahicans” pp. 194-195;
  • “Missisquoi Village” p. 207; 
  • “Winoskik” 327  in  Duffy, J, S. hand and R. Orth.  Vermont Encyclopedia  University Press of New England, Hanover
  •  “Truthless”.  Seven Days, Sept. 10-17, 2003. p. 4A
2005   
  • The Wabanaki World Vol. I : Decolonizing a taken prehistory of the Far Northeast   University Press of New England
  • Blom, Deborah, James Petersen and —–  “Repatriation and Monument Road:            
  • Abenaki and archaeologists efforts to find a solution.”  In Jordan Kerber.  Cross Cultural              Collaboration. University of Nebraska Press

2008    

  • “Changeling” Video, Miraclegirl Productions.  1522 Harvard Street Apartment 5, Santa Monica, CA (Producer)
  • “Calumet to crisis and back.” (Video) Franklin Northwest Supervisory Union Office of Indian Education (Producer/Director/Filmographer)

2009     

  • At Lake Between.  Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Basin Harbor, VT, Champlain Tech Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Basin Harbor, VT
  • “1609: The other side of history. Wôbanakik Heritage Center, Swanton, VT  (Producer/Director)

2009     “1609: Quadricentennial Curriculum”  Lake Champlain Maritime Museum lcmm.org/navigating

2010     

  • Baseline 1609.  Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Basin Harbor, VT
  • “Before the Lake Was Champlain” Hidden Landscapes Productions  1 Hewins  Farm Rd.,              Wellesley, MA  (Co-Producer)
  • “The New Antiquarians” Hidden Landscapes Productions  1 Hewins Farm Rd., Wellesley, MA 02481 (Co-Producer) 

2011   

  • ____ and Melody Walker. The Abenakis and their Neighbors: Teachers and Interpreters resources. Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs. Montpelier, VT.

2012   

  •  Reclaiming Western Wabanaki Ceremony: A Handbook for Cultural Revitalization.  Wôbanakik Heritage Center, Swanton, VT  Indigenous Vermont  Series 2012:8. 313pp.2013
  • Theo Panadis sings Wabanaki songs. Wôbanakik Heritage Center, Swanton, VT Indigenous Vermont Series 2013:4. CD
  •  Wabanaki Confederacy political and ceremonial songs. Wôbanakik Heritage Center, Swanton, VT  Indigenous Vermont Series 2013:5.
  •  Wabanaki Songs: Fun, Dance and Ceremony. Wôbanakik Heritage Center, Swanton, VT  Indigenous Vermont Series 2013:6
  • Lets Learn Abenaki Songs I. Wôbanakik Heritage Center, Swanton, VT Indigenous Vermont Series 2013:8.n.d.        P
  • Proposed K-12 Curriculum on Indigenous Vermont Studies Manuscript housed in the Wôbanakik Heritage Center archives

Awards:

1998        Highest ceremonial honors, Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi

2001        Great Peace of Montreal Honor Ceremony and Honor Inscription Museé de Montreal, Montreal, QC

2002        Keynote Speaker, Native American Studies in New England, University of  New Hampshire

2005        Wampum Carrier, Seven Fires Alliance, Akwesasne Reserve, NY

2007        Keynote address.  Vermont Alliance for Social Studies, Burlington, VT December, 7, 2007

2009        “Governor’s Award”  Vermont Lake Champlain International Ceremony  July 11, 2009

2010       

  • Appreciation Ceremony. Missisquoi Abenaki Swanton, VT
  • Silver Astrolabe Award Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Commission

2011       Appreciation Ceremony. Missisquoi Abenaki Swanton, VT.

2012      

  • Elnu Tribe Honor Ceremony Recipient of Gratitude. Basin Harbor, VT
  • Nulhegan Band Honor Ceremony. Basin Harbor VT

Affiliations

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association

Don Stevens

Enrolled Citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation

Juried Artist since 2013
Image of Chief Don Stevens in regalia.

Chief Don Stevens is an award-winning leader, businessman, writer, and lecturer. He has been featured in magazines, books, TV shows, and documentaries. He was appointed to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs by Governor Douglas in 2006 for two terms, where he served as Chair and led the fight to obtain legal recognition for the Abenaki People in Vermont. Chief Stevens was able to acquire tribal land for the Nulhegan Tribe which had been absent for over 200 years. A gifted storyteller, he speaks about issues of Native American Sovereignty, Racial Disparity, and Abenaki Identity.

He was appointed by the Attorney General to the “Racial Disparities in the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Systems Advisory Panel” and serves on the Lake Champlain Sea Grant Advisory Panel and Vermont State Police Fairness and Diversity Advisory Panel.

Contact

Address: 156 Bacon Drive

Shelburne VT  04582

Email: [email protected]

Image of breast plate made by Chief Don Stevens.
Breast Plate
Image of Raccoon Bag made by Chief Don Stevens.
Raccoon Bag

Exhibits

2017 – 2018

Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage. Traveling Exhibit. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

2014     

Traditional Sources, Contemporary Visions – Invitational Group Art Exhibit. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT

Events and Performances

2013 – 2018    

Native American Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT

Shelburne Museum, Shelburne, VT

Nulheganaki, Island Pond, VT

2012     

Native American Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT

Nulheganaki, Island Pond, VT

2011    

Native American Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT

Speaking To The Ancestors Abenaki Gathering.  ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT

2010     

Native American Heritage Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT

Winter Celebration. ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT

2009    

Vermont Indigenous Celebration.  ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT

Affiliations

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association

Diane Stevens

Enrolled Citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation

Juried Artist
Image of Diane Stevens

My Love for nature photography was a natural progression of my love for travel.  A friend of mine joined the Peace Corps and encouraged me to join her for a two-week adventure in Namibia and Zambia, Africa.  Thus began an incredible photographic journey.  Vermont’s abundant wild life and beauty have enable me to hone my craft. 

Hiking and back water kayaking have led to incredible, yet at times challenging, photographic opportunities. Continued travels in New England, Florida, and Peru have expanded my appreciation of all nature has to offer. I recently won best in color at the Seaba Artists Exhibit.


Contact

Email: [email protected]

Store: Diane Stevens Photography

Image of Camels Hump.
Camel’s Hump
Peruvian love birds in vibrant colors by Diane Stevens.
Love Birds in Peru
Monkey staring at the camera - taken by Diane Stevens.
Peruvian Monkey

Exhibits

2016 to present

Indefinite Exhibit at Trinity Church in Shelburne, Vermont 

2017

Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage. Traveling Exhibit. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

2016

Solo photography show at Charlotte Senior Center . Charlotte, VT.

SEABA (Arts Alive) photography exhibit at One Main Street, Burlington, Vt

Documentary

2015

Photos utilized in Wabanaki Confederacy Documentary

Awards

 2017

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Best in Color for Nature’s Pallet. Annual Open Photography Exhibit . Arts Alive.

Elnu Abenaki Singers

All are Enrolled Citizens of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe

Elnu Abenaki Singers

Elnu Abenaki Singers

For more over two decades, the Elnu Abenaki Singers have performed across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions. They are invited to sing at events, museums, school, and historic sites They echo the voices of their ancestors, who have lived in N’dakinna (the land) for thousands of years.

The public has come to know the Elnu Singers through their repertoire of Wabanaki songs and chants; their signature Eastern style hand drums and rattles. With each new song comes an explanation of what it means and any historic information with may be related.

The Elnu Singers are of mixed ages. The group includes men, women, and children.  They can perform in either modern or traditional clothing from any era from the early 17th century to contemporary.

Image of the Elnu Abenaki Singers performing.
Elnu Abenaki Singers Performing

Contact Info

Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan

Email: [email protected] 

Click here to listen to the Elnu Abenaki Singers


Filmed in night vision at the Jamaica State Park archeological dig. The El-Nu Abenaki Tribe Singers led the public through a night of traditional story-telling and songs. Featured here is one of those songs and the protocol that surrounds it.

For more information on the El-Nu Abenaki Tribe please visit:
http://elnuabenakitribe.org/


Film by Lina Longtoe. Featured in the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s exhibit, “Contact of Cultures, 1609.” 

Blog

Newspaper with News headline

Stop Hate Toward Abenaki. Mountain Times. May 3, 2023

Dear Editor Race-based attacks and harmful stereotypes are putting Vermont’s Abenaki communities in jeopardy and it needs to stop. This ...
Newspaper with Press Release as header.

Governor Recognized Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week. Saint Alban’s Messenger. May 4, 2023

SWANTON — For the fifth consecutive year, Gov. Phil Scott has recognized May 1-7 as Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week ...
Newspaper with Press Release as header.

First Week in May being designated Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week. NBC Channel 5

First week in May designated Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week "We owe the Abenaki people of Vermont and indigenous tribes ...
Newspaper with Press Release as header.

Vermont Delegation Statement Commemorating Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week. Bernie Sanders/Vermont.gov. April 28, 2023

“It is with great honor and respect that we come together to celebrate Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week, the centuries-old ...
Newspaper with News headline

Vermont delegation statement commemorating Abenaki Recognition and Heritage Week. Vermont Biz. April 28, 2023

Vermont Business Magazine Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), Senator Peter Welch (D-Vermont), and Representative Becca Balint (D-Vermont) today issued the following ...
Vermont Native Communities Support the Vatican’s Repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery”

Vermont Native Communities Support the Vatican’s Repudiation of the “Doctrine of Discovery”

Long-awaited opportunity to move forward after 500+ years of cultural annihilation Vermont Business Magazine On March 30, 2023, a joint ...
Bookmark for Water is Life Teach-in.

Water is Life Teach In

The Abenaki Arts & Education Center is excited to announce the Water is Life Abenaki Teach-In on March 25, in ...
Two-eyed Seeing Speaker Series poster with information about the presentations.

Vermont Biz News Release

Speaker Series Shares Indigenous and Scientific Views of American Abenaki Heritage, March 7 & 22 In March, Vermont Abenaki Artists ...
Screenshot of WCAX3 Speaker Series YouTube video.

WCAX CBS 3 News

Speaker series shares views of American Abenaki heritage BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Local Abenaki artists are encouraging people to open ...

Decolonizing the History that is Taught in Schools Across the Abenaki Homeland

An open book.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Elnu Abenaki Tribe, Director, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, and Abenaki Arts & Education Center.

Originaly published by Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum on Jan 23, 2020. View original here.

If your not familiar with the term decolonization you probably recognize the Latin prefix de- meaning to reverse and the word colonization which refers to the process by which the colonial settlers move into and took control of Indigenous lands. Colonization is the brutal process by which one group of people overpowers another group of people, takes control of all of the resources and it generally causes irreparable loss and harm to the original inhabitants. The new government forces new laws and customs upon the group that is being dominated. In theory decolonization would return society in the Americas to its original state before colonization but that process would be nearly impossible and far too complicated because we cannot undo what has been done but we can help mitigate the damages that have been done to the Abenaki communities of the region. For me this work is about reclamation, truth, and education so this article will focus on my work developing decolonized educational resources for schools.

I began developing and presenting Native American programs in classrooms over twenty years ago because I knew there was a gap in what and how our children were being taught about American history and the Native American people of our region. The problem of Abenaki erasure in school curriculum is multi-dimensional. Over the years, there have been very few changes in how Native American culture is taught. Many of us grew up learning the same incorrect history as our children will and that same history is passed from one generation to another. We also rely upon history books that are out-dated and incomplete because they written from a single perspective so long ago . 

Adding to the dilemma is many of us grew up learning many stereotypes and myths about Native American people.

Therefore, with some exceptions, children are still taught that the original Native American inhabitants of N

Abenaki Fulbright Scholar Returns to Homeland for Dissertation Research

Newspaper with News headline
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Inline imageJoin us in congratulating Vermont Abenaki Artists Association educator and artist, Lina Longtoe Schulmeisters on the successful completion of her J. William Fulbright grant! Last year, Lina was selected to join the 2018-2019 US-UK Fulbright Commission Postgraduate Cohort and used the grant to fund her studies at the University of Reading where she is currently an MSc Environment and Development candidate. Lina notes that her academic interests and goals exist,

VAAA Report to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs 1-7-2019

Kwai (hello/greetings) everyone,

As we have just retired 2018 and look forward to 2019, I would like to let you know what a successful year 2018 was. VAAA partnered with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Flynn Performing Arts Center, and local libraries to present many programs.

School children from throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, and Connecticut went to see our traveling exhibit Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage and they used the curriculum materials that we developed in their classrooms. Additionally, we had 28 teachers attend our second annual professional development seminar Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom.

Education is a crucial part of VAAA

Welcome!

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) is a Native American arts organization that serves the public by connecting them to Abenaki educators, artists from the visual and performing arts as well as literary genres.

MISSION STATEMENT: Our 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.

We do this by presenting public programs, cultural events, and museum exhibitions that educate the public in understanding Abenaki art and culture.

Connect with us to stay up-to-date and be part of a dialogue that embraces the past, present, and future of Abenaki art.

By giving to Vermont Abenaki Artists Association you support people of all ages learning about Abenaki culture and art through our . . .

VAAA brochure.

Click on the brochure image to download a printable copy.

THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS, SUPPORTERS, & PARTNERS

Vermont Department of Health logo.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Vermont Folklife logo.
Vermont Arts Council logo.
Vermont Humanities logo.
New England Foundation for the Arts logo
Abenaki Arts and Education Association logo with dark blue background and a white design with double curves and florets and words that say Sharing Abenaki Educational Resources with Classrooms Across N'dakinna.

Abenaki clothing wears a rich history

By Melanie Plenda, Union Leader, September 22. 2017 5:47PM

Vera_ Tolba Jacket_lowres
Vera Longtoe Sheehan, co-curator of the exhibit Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage, with her painted tolba (turtle) jacket. (Courtesy of Diane Stevens Photography)

WARNER – Next time you see a person wearing a denim jacket or beaded earrings or bracelet, you might do well to take a closer look.

“This is sort of everyday wear that Native people would wear now, and it includes some kinds of things that non-Native people would wear too, but there’s just something about it that shows their native identity,” said Nancy Jo Chabot, curator of the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner.

The new exhibit at the museum, “Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage”, documents the way in which garments and accessories that reflect Abenaki heritage have been – and still are – made and used to express Native identity, according to museum officials.

“You start to see that in little elements in modern clothing,” she said of the portion of the exhibit depicting the current era, “things that wouldn’t look out of place for any modern person walking down the road, but for a Native person have these very distinctively heavy Northeast design elements.

“That’s a crucial, important part of anything we do here at the museum: (showing) that Abenaki people are here, are living, and creating wonderful things. And this exhibit in particular is to show that the Abenaki people that were here, where we are on this land right now, are still here.”

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, an Abenaki teaching artist, activist and director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, curated the exhibit with Eloise Beil of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. This exhibit was unique, Sheehan said, in that it is the first traveling exhibit about Abenaki culture co-curated by an Abenaki person and that has been accepted in mainstream galleries such as the Amy Tarrant Gallery at the Flynn Performing Arts Center in Burlington, Vt., in addition to museums.

Among other things, the exhibit aims to answer the questions of what it means to be an Abenaki person in the modern world. The exhibit, which is composed of artifact clothing as well as clothing representative of an early time made by contemporary local artists,is the product of a decade-long collaboration among Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Vermont’s Abenaki artists, community members and tribal leaders.

Like all native tribes, Chabot said, the challenges of understanding their tradition and culture and then making that work in the modern world are huge.

“For Abenaki in particular,” she said, “because there was a time in the early part of the 20th century that being identified as Abenaki Indian was dangerous. Speaking your language was dangerous. So families made conscientious efforts to hide that identity.”

A 17th-century style buckskin dress by Melody Walker Brook, part of the new exhibit of Abenaki clothing traditions at the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum. (Courtesy of Diane Stevens Photography)

What she’s talking about is the time period from 1931 to 1963, when the Abenaki among others were targets of a government-sanctioned sterilization program in New Hampshire and Vermont. Some Abenaki fled. The ones that stayed, hid in plain sight, requiringd them to abandon openly practicing traditions that could identify them as Abenaki. To this day, many tribal elders refuse to admit publically they are Abenaki. As a result, some people believe the Abenaki no longer exist and it is one of the reason the Abenaki – while recognized in Maine and Vermont – are not recognized federally or in New Hampshire. According to government documents the Abenaki can’t prove they’ve consistently existed as a tribe.

“Now we’re in a generation, two generations after that,” Chabot said. “And a lot of people know they have an Indian heritage that are from New Hampshire and Vermont and are in that very challenging place where they want to learn more and are starting to understand some things that their parents or grandparents would do that they wouldn’t have explained years ago.

“So people go about that in many different ways. This is sort of reclaiming their culture. This particular exhibit does that through clothing. . Finding ways to find those cultural threads is very important.”

“In addition to relaying the message that we are still here, the exhibit should show people that we know our history and still practice our culture,” said Longtoe Sheeham. “However, artists don’t need to choose between being a traditional or contemporary artist. Many of us practice both. For instance, I made the Tolba (turtle) Jean Jacket that was designed with traditional designs but I also made the twined woven dress that connects my family tradition to thousands of years of our history.”
– – – – –
The Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum, Education and Cultural Center, 18 Highlawn Road, is open daily May 1 – Oct. 31, Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday noon – 5 p.m. In November, the museum is open on weekends from noon to 5 p.m.

The exhibit will be on view in Warner until Oct. 29 and then it will be moving to The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Conn.

For more information, visit the museum’s Facebook page, visit www.indianmuseum.org, call 456-2600 or [email protected].

Read the full story on the Union Leader website

Sessions for Teacher Training

Presenting Abenaki History in the Classroom Promo

When: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 from 9:30am-4pm

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

Cost: $15 registration fee includes lunch and program materials.

Register: Eventbrite

Session Descriptions

Walk Through Western Abenaki History with 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 with Roger 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 Foodways with Liz Charlebois

Liz

A note to our visitors

This website has updated its privacy policy in compliance with changes to European Union data protection law, for all members globally. We’ve also updated our Privacy Policy to give you more information about your rights and responsibilities with respect to your privacy and personal information. Please read this to review the updates about which cookies we use and what information we collect on our site. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our updated privacy policy.