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

Melody Mackin

Enrolled Citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe

Juried Artist since 2013
Image of Melody Walker with hand drum.
Melody Walker

Melody Mackin is an educator, mom, and artist.  She works at the Atowi Project. She received her master’s degree in History from the University of Vermont in May 2011. Melody has taught at several institutions an adjunct professor, such as Northern Virginia Community College and taught the History of Western Civilization and US History.

Prior to this, she was an adjunct professor at Champlain College through the EHS Division. Before that, she was an adjunct professor at Johnson State College where she taught “Native American Worldview and Spirituality,” “Native American History and Culture,” and “Abenakis and Their Neighbors.” She gives lectures on a variety of topics, including Abenaki history, women’s issues, and Abenaki political history.

She has done ground breaking research on Abenaki Spirituality and is heavily involved in the Abenaki cultural revitalization movement.  She works with museums and lectures in both the K-12 and collegiate level classroom on topics relating to the Eastern Woodlands and indigenous history.

Melody is a traditional finger weaver, photographer, ribbon work, beadworker, and interprets wampum belts.

Artist Statement

I am an Abenaki historian and I am in love with stories. The finished pieces that I create whether it is a beaded bag or a breechclout with ribbon are created with spirit. They tell my story but they also tell the story of my people. In each stitch I think about the hands that have come before me using the same techniques with the same type of materials. Most importantly, I think of the hands that will create the same artifacts in the future and honor the culture that lights the path through time that we all walk. I spend a lot of time teaching Abenaki history and culture but the artifacts that I shape are the physical manifestations of what being Abenaki means to me. They represent pride, generational love, talent, resiliency, and ultimately they tell a story of survival.

Contact Info

Email: [email protected]

Image of finger woven sash by Melody Mackin.
Finger woven sash
Image of breechcloths by Melody Mackin.
Image of beaded bag by Melody Makin
Beaded bag with spider & web
Image of beaded bag by Melody Makin.
Beaded bag on wool
Image of beaded bag by Melody Makin.
Beaded flower on wool bag trimmed with ribbon

Weaving a thread through the 7 generations, Melody Walker, TEDx Stowe
Melody Walker gives an incredibly powerful and touching insight into rebirth of the Abenaki Elnu tribe. Finding pride in each other and hope for the future, Melody weaves a beautiful talk about finding one’s place in creation and community. 



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


  • Native History Month Program Coordinator, Champlain College, November 2016. Lectured in Native American Leadership and completed Cultural Awareness Training for Diversity Programmers
  • Affirming Traditions Conference Coordinator, Mt. Norris Boy Scout Reservation, October 22, 2016
  • Camel’s Hump Middle School Lecture/Workshop, Lake Carmi: Abenakis Throughout History and storytelling/drumming workshop over the campfire on September 24, 2016
  • Mount Norris Boy Scout Frontier’s Camp: Full days of arts and crafts workshops for a week long camp June-July 2016
  • Abenaki Heritage Weekend Lecture, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum: “Bringing History to Life” on June 27, 2015
  • Chittenden County School System: Personhood Lecture for educators and parents on June 24, 2015
  • Mount Norris Boy Scout Winter Camp: Full day of drumming workshops on March 7, 2015 for students traveling from all over New England
  • Encounter – Vermont Indigenous Culture for the Classroom: Full day lecture on November 9, 2014 for teachers from a variety of schools held at Endeavour School
  • Abenaki Heritage Weekend Presentation: “Haven Project: Seeds of Renewal,” June 28-29, 2014
  • Abenaki Spirituality: Class lecture at Middlebury College on January 21, 2014National Native Seeds School,MA: “Seeds of Renewal,” January 2014
  • Nancy Millette Doucet Memorial Lecture Series Presentations: Various full day lectures twice a semester regarding cultural revitalization topics, 2012-2014
  • Lead Like a Beaver Speaker Series Presentation: “A Shifting of the Glass: Indigenous Perspectives on Leadership,” December 2013
  • Echo Center Harvest Fest: “The House That Raven Built Storytime with Melody Brook” & “Fingerweaving with Melody Brook,” November 29, 2013
  • Champlain College Native American Heritage Month Presentation: “Native American Identity,” November 2013
  • UVM Native American Heritage Month Presentations: “Walking in Two Worlds” and “Rethinking Thanksgiving,” November 2013
  • UVM Continuing Education Diversity Series Presentation: “Identity in the Workplace Through an Abenaki Lens,” May 2013
  • UVM Abenaki Heritage Week Presentation: “Against the Darkness: Indigenous Identity Through the Ages,” April 2012
  • Lake Champlain Basin Program Love the Lake Series: “Abenaki Heritage Center – Haven Project,” February 2012
  • VASS Conference Making Sense of the World: “Haven Project: A Virtual Museum,” December 2011
  • Echo Center Indigenous Summit, Co-Coordinator, November 2011
  • Old Stone House Museum Time Traveler’s/Children’s Camp: “Abenaki History & Culture,” Summer 2009 & 2010
  • Lyndon State College My Story Matters Conference: “Walking in Two Worlds: The Wabanaki Experience,” Keynote speaker, April 2009
  • St. Michael’s College VT Quadricentennial Indigenous Conference, Co-Coordinator, May 2009

Film & Radio

  • Miricle, Irene, “Changeling, AKA Dawnland.” Miricle Girl Productions. 2009. DVD
  • Reger, Deborah. Moccasin Tracks . Recorded February 15, 2013. WGDR 91.1 FM . Web
  • Timrick, Ted. “Before The Lake Was Champlain.” Hidden Landscapes. 2009. DVD
  • Wiseman, Frederick M. Ph D. “1609: The Other Side of History.” 2009. DVD
  • Wertlieb,Mitch. “Interview: El-Nu citizen Melody Walker ” Recorded March 27,2009,  Vermont Public Radio
  • “Vermont Indigenous Celebration: Abenaki Singers – Interview with Abenakis Walker & Melody Brook – Abenaki Dancers, Takara Matthews & Josh Hunt.”  Recorded July, 11, 2009. Channel 17. Web


  • Cum Laude Honors (undergraduate)
  • ALANA Leadership Award (undergraduate)
  • 2009 Ally of the Year Award from the UVM Greek Community.


  • Atowi Project
  • Vermont Abenaki Artists Association
  • Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, Vice Chair  (2010-2012 and 2016-2017)
  • Native American Quadricentennial Advisory Committee (2008-2009)
  • WAOLOWZI Minority Health and Wellness Program (2006-2009)
  • Vermont Women’s History Project Steering Committee (2005-2007)
  • Voices Against Violence (2005)

Linda Longtoe Sheehan

Enrolled Citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe

Juried Artist since 2013
Image of Linda Longtoe Sheehan.
Linda Longtoe Sheehan

Linda Longtoe Sheehan’s specialty is wampum. She is known affectionately as “Wampum Woman.”  She started making wampum belts over thirty years ago and passed her knowledge onto countless young people.

Linda  makes wampum belts and jewelry from glass beads, mother of pearl and quahog.  Her beadmaking starts with a quahog shell. She cuts it to size and shapes it.  Then she weaves her wampum belts using braintanned leather.

Linda learned brain tanning from Mark Humpel, who hosts an annual braintanning weekend. Unfortunately, due to a disability she can no longer make braintan leather herself so she is passing this tradition on to students. In the winter months, Linda teaches them how to scrape the deer hides; soak them in the braintan solution; stretch and dry the hides; and work them until they are soft. Then she cuts it into long strips. Each hide takes about 50 hours.

She has done demonstrations at museums and historic sites throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States.  Her work was even requested by the Presidents protocol office.

Artist Statement

I have been designing and making wampum belts, wrist bands, necklaces, bracelets and earrings for over 30 years;. I work with real Quahog, glass and mother of pearl wampum beads.   My work has been on display at the Institute for American Indian studies and at Johnson Hall  (historic site).

During the winter months,  I also make my own brain tan leather which I use for to weave my belts.  

Although I specialize in wampum,  I also do Traditional finger weaving, eastern center seam moccasins, Quillwork and I twine.


Address: RR 30 Box 261

Email:  [email protected]

Website: Back To The Moose Robe


Image of wampum bracelet made by Linda Longtoe Sheehan.
Wampum bracelet
Image of eagle wampum belt.
Eagle Wampum Belt

Exhibits  (select list)

2009 to present 

Contact of Cultures, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes,  VT


Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage (traveling exhibit). Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.


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


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


  • Featured Artist, Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, CT
  • Demonstrator. Ft. at # 4, Charleston, NH

Presentations & Demos (select list)


  • Demonstrator. Ft. at # 4, Charleston, NH
  • Annual Native American Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes,VT
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT


  • Annual Native American Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
  • Demonstrator. Ft. at # 4, Charleston, NH
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT


  • Annual Native American 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
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT
  • Demonstrator.  Native American Month Presenter. University of Vermont, Burlington, VT


  • Annual Native American Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT


  • Vermont Indigenous Celebration.    ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center/Leahy          Center for Lake Champlain, Burlington, VT
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT


  • Annual Native American Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT


  • Annual Native American Weekend, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Vergennes, VT
  • Abenaki Encampment, “Jamaica Old Home Days,” Salmon Hole, Jamaica, VT

Film & Radio

  • Reger, Deborah. Moccasin Tracks . Recorded . WGDR 91.1 FM
  • Schulmeisters, Lina L. “Artisan Spotlight: Linda Longtoe.” Askawobi Productions, 2012


Woodland Confederacy

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association


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