Bridging Perspectives – Current Speaker Series

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

Vermont Department of Health logo.

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.

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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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.

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.

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.



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.

About the Storytelling Project

Image of rectangular shaped poster for the Storytelling project that says "Share Your Story!"

The Abenaki Storytelling Project is a community-based art project that supports Native American strength and resiliency. Over the past several years, the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association has sponsored several exhibits to promote the constantly evolving story of the lives of the Abenaki in N’Dakinna (our homeland). We utilize Native American arts and storytelling to uplift regional Abenaki voices and perspectives in museum exhibitions, programs, and cultural heritage events. When people see themselves reflected in exhibitions, artwork, and programs it is good for the health and wellness of their community by giving them a voice, which helps them know that their history, culture, and memories are important; they are not alone, especially during a time such as the recent pandemic.

The focus of this year’s Storytelling Project is exploring how COVID-19 has affected the Abenaki community. Utilizing arts and storytelling, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) will measure insights on COVID-19, vaccine-related perceptions, disparities, and access among the Native American population in Vermont and throughout N’Dakinna. These insights will be shared with the community of origin and the public through an online digital exhibition and a traveling exhibition in 2023-2024.

General Eligibility Requirements

Participants must be:

  • Over the age of 18
  • Have an email address
  • Be reachable by phone
  • Be Abenaki, Native American, or Native American descent
  • Other restrictions may apply.

Ways to Participate

  • Memory Booth events (15 minutes) 
  • Focus Groups (60 minutes ) 
  • Individual storytelling session (60-90 minutes) – 
  • Group of friends and/or storytelling session (60-90 minutes)  

Contact

For more information or to see if you qualify to be included, email [email protected] and type Storytelling Project in the subject line.

Check back for project updates!

Image of Call to Artists button with link to more information.
Image of Storytelling Blog button and link to Storytelling Blog page.
Image of news room button with link to news room page.
Click here to visit our News Room.
Image of memory booth logo and link to Memory Booth Events page..

Sponsored by the Vermont Department of Health

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 – 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 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.

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

 

The 2024 Abenaki Heritage Weekend

Join Vermont’s Native American community for Abenaki Heritage Weekend and Arts Marketplace on June 29-30 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum to explore Abenaki perspectives on life in the Champlain Valley. Activities include storytelling, craft demonstrations, drumming, singing, and more. Bring a picnic basket for your lunch. Presented by Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, this event brings together citizens of the Elnu, Nulhegan, Koasek, and Missisquoi Abenaki Tribes.

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.

Be sure to visit our newest exhibit, Deep Roots, Strong Branches, which will focus of Abenaki foodways, food security, and gardening throughout the centuries.


When: June 29 – 30, 2024

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

Cost: FREE

Directions: Click here for Google Map

About the 2024 Abenaki Heritage Weekend:

On June 29 – 30, 2024, citizens of the New England Abenaki community will gather 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 will be activities of interest to everyone. The public is advised to bring a picnic lunch and enjoy singing and drumming by the Nulhegan Drum. Children and adults alike will enjoy storytelling by Abenaki author and historian Joseph Bruchac.


Following are the artists who will be giving presentations, demonstrating their crafts, and vending in the Arts Marketplace as well as the programs that have been confirmed. The list will continue to be updated.

We have an exciting schedule this year!

……and there’s more to come! Check back often for updates to this list.

The “White & Indian” Babies of Franklin County

Join Prof. Frederick Wiseman as he discusses the early 20th century evidence for a significant Indigenous presence in the birth and other official records of Northwestern Vermont. Combining ethnohistorical research with genealogical standards of proof, Wiseman explores the bicultural social and cultural milieu that permitted state officials to judiciously pen an Indigenous Identity on various official Vermont documents. This new body of documentary evidence leads to a reconsideration of Northwestern Vermont social history and ethnicity just over a century ago.

Assigning racial birthright in Vermont 1900 - 1925

Always Coming Home (Book Reading and Signing)

Join us for the story of the first in the series of four graphic novels designed for understanding and healing ethnic American Abenaki intergenerational trauma. Always Coming Home is a short story set in an old farmhouse nestled in the Vermont Uplands of the third quarter of the 19th century, and establishes a therapeutic baseline of comforting family, traditional technology, subsistence, and ceremony. The multi-generational family works, learns, gossips, eats, hunts, ice-fishes and dances together in ways that are only now being fully understood in light of the results of new cultural, technological, spiritual and environmental discoveries about the 19th century Vermont Abenaki experience. There will be a book reading as well. A limited number of hot-off-the-press copies of Always coming Home will be available for signing in the Pavilion throughout the day.

Who are the American Abenakis of Vermont? Heritage through place, voice, and craft.

Who are the American Abenakis of Vermont? Heritage through Place, Voice, and Craft

Join Prof. Frederick Wiseman as he summarizes a neglected body of knowledge regarding written, genealogical, graphic, oral-historical, horticultural and material culture of the Vermont American Abenaki community. Using PowerPoint slides and demonstration, Wiseman discusses the highpoints of his decades of work on the three pillars of American Abenaki ethnic legitimacy: 1.) genealogy (also addressed in detail on Saturday), 2.) cultural continuity (a continuous historic presence in the region) and 3.) cultural competence (deep knowledge of local ancestral tradition). Some of this information is introduced in print in his two new books, Always Coming Home and American Abenaki Beadwork, as well as several new YouTube videos online.


Image of the book Dawn Land by Joseph Brucha on dried grass background.

Remembering The Dawn Land with author Joseph Bruchac (Book Reading and Signing)

The area we now refer to as Western New England has been the homeland of Native people for at least 10,000 years. Blending oral traditions, natural history, archaeology, cultural survival, indigenous language, and the living land itself, the author takes us back to that ancient time. The program will include discussion of the novel, its main characters, and the telling of some stand alone stories from the book.

American Abenaki Beadwork (Book Reading and Signing)

Join Prof. Wiseman at his table in the Pavilion as he introduces his new book, the first of a series of peer-reviewed publications detailing the unique arts of the American Abenaki Community. The book presents an entirely unstudied tradition of important and beautiful regional northeastern art, beginning around 1800 and persisting until modern times. Copies will be available for purchase.


The Abenaki Toddler’s Play Group

The children will lead a few drum songs accompanied by an elder. We will host a few storytelling sessions throughout the day. Free Indigenous-themed books will be provided at no cost to children that visit. HEART bags available by request. Contact [email protected] for more information.



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]


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 (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

Calling All Abenakis

Support local indigenous research and ways of knowing; participate if you’re eligible or share to spread the word. I’m looking to reach all Abenakis across N’dakinna. The survey is available at www.tinyurl.com/AbenakiFood

This is open to *all* Abenakis, regardless of:
– tribal affiliation
– which country you live in
– whether you or your tribe are currently recognize
d or have Indian status

 

Seven Sisters: Ancient Seeds and Food Systems of the Wabanaki People

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 23, 2018

Earth Haven Learning Centre is proud to announce the publication of the Seven Sisters: Ancient Seeds and Food Systems of the Wabanaki People and the Chesapeake Bay Region, written by Dr. Frederick M. Wiseman.

This book tells the story of a remarkable seed chase that is
combined with the reclamation of lost heritage of the Wabanaki people, their history and culture, and the rediscovery of their ancient agricultural technologies. Also highlighted are ancient seeds from the Chesapeake Bay region.

This 7

November is Native American Heritage Month

Did you know it’s Native American Heritage Month? The Vermont Abenaki Artists Association has partnered with several institutions to host events all over Vermont.

Hood - Lori Lambert

November 4 & 5, 10 AM to 4:00 PM – Native Heritage Weekend –  Fort at Number 4, Charleston, NH. For more information visit http://www.fortat4.org/index.html

November 7, Wearing Our History: Abenaki Artists Panel Discussion

Gov. Scott To Proclaim Oct. 9 As Indigenous Peoples’ Day This Year

by Howard Weiss-Tisman,  September 2, 2017

Gov. Phil Scott says that he will proclaim Oct. 9, 2017 as Indigenous People’s Day in Vermont. This is the same date on which the federal holiday Columbus Day falls this year.

indigenous-vpr-weiss-tisman-20170903
Rich Holschuh, left, of Brattleboro and Roger Longtoe Sheehan, who is the Chief of the Elnu Tribe of the Abenaki, hold Governor Phil Scott’s proclamation naming October 9 Indigenous Peoples’ Day in Vermont.

 

According to his proclamation, Scott says the state will recognize the contributions of Vermont’s first residents.

 

“I’m pleased to recognize the historic and cultural significance of the Indigenous Peoples here in Vermont, with an understanding our state was founded and built upon the lands they first inhabited,” Scott wrote in a prepared statement obtained on Friday. “With this proclamation, we, as a state, aim to acknowledge and celebrate indigenous heritage.”

Gov. Peter Shumlin issued a similar proclamation in 2016 after Brattleboro resident Rich Holschuh suggested the idea. Holschuh, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, says he reached out to Scott’s office earlier this year to extend the proclamation.

It would take legislative action to formally rename Columbus Day in the state. However at the local level, the Brattleboro select board already passed a resolution this year after town meeting voters passed a nonbinding resolution supporting the recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in lieu of Columbus Day.

Read the full article on VPR

Champlain College Student Develops App for Abenaki Artists

Dustin - Low res

Burlington, VT., August 30, 2017 – The Google Play store has released a new Android app called Vermont Abenaki Artists Association which was designed by Dustin Lapierre, a senior at Champlain College.

It all began two months ago when Lapierre

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

Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom

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Members of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association serve as faculty for this one-day professional development seminar at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM), designed to provide teachers and homeschool educators with new resources and techniques to help elementary students learn about the Abenaki tribe. This program is supported by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council.

Abenaki culture and history that spans 11,000 years in the Champlain Valley will be introduced by culture bearers with deep understanding of how this vibrant regional culture continues into the 21st century. Some of the topics include: history and stereotypes; new resources being developed for use in classrooms; age-appropriate activities; and learning how you can better support Abenaki and other Native students while presenting American history. The program includes a gallery talk and tour of the traveling exhibition Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage that explores Abenaki identity and continuity through the lens of the clothing we make and wear to express our identity.

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

Instructors:

Melody Walker Brook is an Adjunct Professor at Champlain College and has taught The Abenakis and Their Neighbors and Abenaki Spirituality at Johnson State College. She serves on the Vermont Commission of Native American Affairs and is a traditional beadworker and finger weaver.

Liz Charlebois, Abenaki culture bearer, is a powwow dancer, traditional bead worker, ash basket maker, and bitten birch bark artist. She cultivates a traditional garden and has organized a seed bank of heirloom seeds grown by the Indigenous people of the Northeast. Liz has served on the New Hampshire Commission of Native American Affairs and as Education Specialist at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, NH.

Lina Longtoe is certified Project WILD instructor for the Growing Up WILD, Aquatic WILD and Project WILD K – 12 programs, which are sponsored by the EPA, US Fish and Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation. Her area of study is environmental science with a concentration in sustainability. She is Tribal Documentarian for the Elnu Abenaki Tribe and maintains a YouTube channel to help preserve Abenaki culture.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, has a background in Museum Studies and Native American Studies. She has been designing and implementing educational programs with museums, schools and historic sites for over twenty-five years. Her art is focused on traditional clothing and twined woven plant fiber bags.

For more information, please contact:

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association [email protected]

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

Hello world!

Kwai Nedoba (Hello friend)!

Welcome to our Blog where we will be discussing Native American culture and art in our area. We hope you will enjoy learning more about us.

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