Abenaki Heritage Weekend 2023

Abenaki Heritage Weekend poster

June 17-18 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

On June 17-18, 2023, citizens of the New England Abenaki community will gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to celebrate their history and heritage, and the public is invited! Organized by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, this free event is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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, and other items. 

“The variety and quality of the work created by our Abenaki artists is outstanding,” said Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Executive Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. “Some of our artists create traditional art and some create contemporary art, often inspired by tradition. If you are looking to purchase a special gift or something new for your collection, be sure to visit the Native Arts Marketplace.”

Throughout the weekend there will be activities of interest to everyone. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy singing and drumming by the Nulhegan Drum — you may even be invited to drum with them. Children and adults alike should not miss storytelling by Abenaki author and historian Joseph Bruchac, and songs for the little ones with Francine Poitras Jones. 

Artists in the Arts Marketplace include Michael Descoteaux demonstrating the making of hand drums; Elnu Abenaki Elder Jim Taylor making wampum beads from whelk and quahog shells; and Linda Longtoe Sheehan weaving wampum, an intricate process using the shell beads. On Saturday, meet basketmaker Kerry Wood. On Sunday, visit the “Make and Take” table, where children can make a gift to bring home for Father’s Day.

A new special exhibit, Beyond the Curve: The American Abenaki Covid Experience will open during Heritage Weekend in the Schoolhouse Gallery, and will be on view all season. Artwork and stories by 20 American Abenaki artists illustrate the impact of the pandemic in the Abenaki homeland and the resilience of Abenaki people during troubled times. Meet the curator, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, for a gallery talk. 

Thanks to Vermont Humanities, Vermont Arts Council, and Vermont Department of Health for their sponsorship of the event. For more information on Abenaki Heritage Weekend, visit: AbenakiArt.org/abenaki-heritage-weekend.

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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

The 2024 Abenaki Heritage Weekend

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the more than 700 visitors who graced us with their presence at the 2023 Abenaki Heritage Weekend. Your enthusiastic participation and unwavering support made this event truly remarkable. We are especially thankful for the presence of citizens from the four Vermont tribes and tribal citizens from Odanak, as your invaluable contributions enhanced the richness of our gathering. Your presence demonstrated the strength of unity and the power of shared heritage. Together, we celebrated the vibrant traditions and ancestral wisdom that continue to shape our communities.

We are so thankful for the ongoing support from our sponsors and partners Vermont Humanities, Vermont Arts Council, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, Abenaki Alliance, and the Abenaki Arts & Education Center.


When it was held: June 17-18, 2023

Where: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Rd, Vergennes, VT 05491

Cost: $0

Directions: Click here for Google Map

About the 2023 Abenaki Heritage Weekend:

On June 17-18, 2023, citizens of the New England Abenaki community gathered at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to celebrate their history and heritage, and the public was invited! Organized by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, this free event was open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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, and other items. 

“The variety and quality of the work created by our Abenaki artists is outstanding,” said Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Executive Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. “Some of our artists create traditional art and some create contemporary art, often inspired by tradition. If you are looking to purchase a special gift or something new for your collection, be sure to visit the Native Arts Marketplace.”

Throughout the weekend there were activities of interest to everyone. The public was advised to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy singing and drumming by the Nulhegan Drum. Children and adults alike enjoyed storytelling by Abenaki author and historian Joseph Bruchac, and songs for the little ones with Francine Poitras Jones. 

Artists in the Arts Marketplace included Michael Descoteaux demonstrating the making of hand drums; Elnu Abenaki Elder Jim Taylor making wampum beads from whelk and quahog shells; and Linda Longtoe Sheehan weaving wampum, an intricate process using the shell beads. On Saturday, the public met basketmaker Kerry Wood. On both Saturday and Sunday, children were invited to visit the “Make and Take” table, where children could make a gift to bring home for Father’s Day.

A new special exhibit, Beyond the Curve: The American Abenaki Covid Experience opened during Heritage Weekend in the Schoolhouse Gallery, and will be on view all season. Artwork and stories by 20 American Abenaki artists illustrate the impact of the pandemic in the Abenaki homeland and the resilience of Abenaki people during troubled times. Meet the curator, Vera Longtoe Sheehan, for a gallery talk. 

Thanks to Vermont Humanities, Vermont Arts Council, and Vermont Department of Health for their sponsorship of the event.


Link for Accessibility information: ? For access questions, contact Elisa [email protected] or (802) 265-0092

For other questions, you may also email Francine at [email protected]


Special Programs that took place at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend:

  • Storytelling by Joe Bruchac
  • Nulhegan Abenaki Drum group
  • Music and Storytelling by Francine Poitras Jones

Artists Featured in the Arts Marketplace


A woman hitting a hand drum with a wolf painted on it.
Paul Rene Tamburro in his workshop.
Three children making games.

#Abenaki #heritage #weekend #VAAA #AbenakiHeritageWeekend #heritageweekend #abenakiheritage

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association is supported by the New England Foundation for the Arts through the New England Arts Resilience Fund, part of the United States Regional Arts Resilience Fund, an initiative of the U.S. Regional Arts Organizations and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, with major funding from the federal CARES Act from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Kchi wliwni / Thank you to our 700+ supporters & visitors at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend 2023.

Kchi Wliwni (A Big Thank You) to our Sponsors

Abenaki Alliance logo with mountains, water, and sun.
Vermont Department of Health logo.
Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op logo.
Lake Champlain Maritime Museum
Vermont Humanities 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.

Vermont Arts Council logo.
Cabot logo.

PLEASE DONATE NOW TO HELP US KEEP THIS EVENT GOING FOR THE FUTURE

Photos From the 2017 Abenaki Heritage Weekend

Every year the Abenaki Heritage Weekend offers opportunities for in promtu activities for the public to interact with the Abenaki community. Lina Longtoe of Askawobi Production captured a couple of these encounters.

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Aaron Wood teaches two young people learn how to pound an ash log to produce ash splints for basket making.

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Everyone gathers for a Round Dance

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