FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For information contact: Francine Poitras Jones
Abenaki Heritage Weekend June 18-19, 2022 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Are you looking for a special experience to start the summer? On June 18th and 19th, citizens of the New England Abenaki community will gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to celebrate their history and heritage and they are inviting you and your family to join them!
This free event will be open from 11am to 4 pm both Saturday and Sunday. One of the highlights is the Native Arts Marketplace of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, where visitors can talk to artists, watch craft demonstrations, and purchase outstanding beadwork, paintings, jewelry, wampum, woodwork, leatherwork, drums, feather boxes, and other items.
This page includes our current permanent and traveling museum exhibits.
June 17th to October 15 – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, VT.
October 21 to January 6 – Mad River Valley Arts, Waitsfield, VT.
Beyond the Curve: the Abenaki COVID Experience
In March 2020, the world stood still as businesses and schools around the world closed in response to the global pandemic. Broadcast media, health and government officials repeated
the daily mantra “Flatten the Curve.” Resources became scarce, exposing health disparities and access issues that Native American families face across North America. Here in N’Dakinna (our homeland) Abenaki families turned to traditional medicines and other cultural practices for comfort and survival, connecting with nature and small family groups.
Throughout the dark times that followed, Abenaki and other Native American artists, musicians, and community members expressed the impact of the pandemic on ourselves and our community through storytelling, visual arts, and writing. Our stories of personal experience and perceptions about the disparities, access issues, and historical traumas that contribute to vaccine hesitation are also stories of recovery, survival, and resilience.
The stories and artwork in this exhibit were gathered by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association through the Abenaki Storytelling Project to create an auto-history of the Native American community in Vermont and the surrounding environs.
Many of the storytellers, artists, and community members who contributed to this body of work found that sharing helped them process their grief. This exhibition goes beyond differences to speak of experiences that are universal.
Together, we move Beyond the Curve.
Waolôwzi (be very well)
Special Thanks To Our Sponsors
Nebizun: Water is Life (2022-2024)
Nebizun (alternately spelled Nebizon) is the Abenaki word for medicine and the root word Nebi is the Abenaki word for water. The rivers and tributaries of N’Dakinna (our homeland) were our highways for traveling and the water itself is important to the species of fish and other wildlife that is necessary to our way of life. As stewards of the environment Native American people know the importance of having clean water. The Abenaki people know and understand the importance of water in everyday activities related to foodways and healing powers of water. Nebizun: Water is Life draws its inspiration from Native American Grandmothers who have been doing water walks to pray for the water, and the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act. Curated by Vera Longtoe Sheehan.
Featured Artists: Charlie Adams (Elnu), Vicki Blanchard (Nulhegan), Joe Bruchac (Nulhegan), Bill Gould (Nulhegan), Francine Poitras Jones (Nulhegan), Jeanne Morningstar Kent (Nulhegan), Melody Walker Makin (Elnu), Lucy Cannon Neel (Nulhegan), Hawk Schulmeisters (Elnu), Breanna Sheehan (Elnu), Linda Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu), Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu), Vera Longtoe Sheehan (Elnu), JES (Elnu), Chief April St Francis Rushlow (Missisquoi), Dorothy Tondreau (Elnu), Amy Hook-Therrien (Koasek), and Aaron York (Missisquoi).
Special thanks to Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D. for the usage of his family’s fishing equipment.
Thank you to our partners and supporters!
North East Woodland Fiber Art (2014 to present)
Discover hidden secrets of New England Native people as you explore traditional fiber arts that were once used to create their cloths and containers. Learn how one family in the Northeast has continued this tradition unbroken for generations. Explore plant materials that were and are still used to create soft twine woven bags, baskets and containers. Guest curated by Vera Longtoe Sheehan.
Featured artists: Jessee Lawyer, Julia Marden, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, and Lina Longtoe.
On View at Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum. Warner, NH.
For more information Contact: Vera Longtoe Sheehan, [email protected]
Image Courtesy of Diane Stevens Photography.
July 26, 2019
April 19 th, 2018, 7:00 pm – Wearing Our Heritage – Contemporary Abenaki artists and tribal members talk about the meaning of garments, accessories and regalia in their own lives and in the expression of community and tribal identity. This program was created by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in partnership with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Flynn Center for the Arts, supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. Charlotte Library, Shelburne, VT. Admission is free.
May 7, 2018 – Abenaki Woman
By Melanie Plenda, Union Leader, September 22. 2017 5:47PM
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.”
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.”
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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.
Read the full story on the Union Leader website
CONTEMPORARY ABENAKI ARTISTS share their artwork and family photographs in the special exhibit