The Abenaki Arts & Education Center is excited to announce the Water is Life Abenaki Teach-In on March 25, in Vergennes, VT.
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.
Speaker Series Shares Indigenous and Scientific Views of American Abenaki Heritage, March 7 & 22
In 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. All programs in the Two-Eyed Seeing Speaker Series are presented on Zoom, thanks to support from . . . Click here to read more
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
Publication from thethe 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.
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
Back to THE HISTORIC INDIGENOUS ARTS OF VERMONT and NEW HAMPSHIRE
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
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.
All programs in the Two-Eyed Seeing Speaker Series are presented on Zoom, thanks to support from the Vermont Humanities and Vermont Arts Council.
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: 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
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
Most recently, Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki Tribe) curated the exhibit Nebizun: Water is Life, which is touring New England 2022-2024.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Enrolled Citizen of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation
Lisa Ainsworth Plourde brings a career of 28 years of teaching visual arts with a BA in art education along with her passion for knowledge of the people of N’dakinna. Of Abenaki heritage, she has acquired knowledge through research and interaction with Abenaki elders; a lifelong journey.
Lisa is ardent about bringing to life the traditions and art of the Abenaki people, past and present, and in doing so also bringing a better understanding of this proud and very much alive culture. Lisa’s fine art practice includes graphite, ink and conte crayon drawing and acrylic and watercolor painting.
Her journey of discovery has brought to her a practice of many different traditional art forms, as in native culture, items for everyday living are functional as well as beautiful. Hide and fur, birch bark, feathers, shells, quills, and beads create objects that bring a connection to the environment as well as create a sense of peace. In her teaching of children, Lisa has been successful with replacing traditional materials with ones that are inexpensive and readily found while exhibiting examples of her own made with traditional materials. During this creative process Lisa speaks to all aspects of life, survival, kinship, respect, and a love of all things, while working to dispel the ravages of colonization and stereotype.
I grew up in southern NH and discovered art at an early age, always knowing that I wanted to be an educator. I was employed by the Goffstown School district for 28 years. During that time, I raised two daughters and took in commissioned artwork in various mediums. Upon early retirement, I moved back to my family’s ancestral homeland of the Northeast Kingdom on Maidstone Lake, in the heart of N’dakinna. Here I have been able to focus on my connection to the land and Alnobak. Exhibits may be in my future; but, currently I feel that educating and showing the children of Vermont about the Abenaki and our art is my contribution.
The Historic Indigenous Arts of Vermont and New Hampshire
By Frederick M. Wiseman Ph.D.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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).
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)
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)
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)
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?
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
Join 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,
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
A note to our visitors