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Abenaki Heritage Weekend

June 28-29, 2014

This special weekend, hosted by Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and presented in partnership with the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, gives visitors an Abenaki perspective on life in the Champlain Valley. Members of the Elnu and Missisquoi Abenaki tribes, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk and Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation, and the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association work with Museum staff to plan and present the event, with the advice and support of the Commission.

The Native people at this event are experts in the living indigenous arts and traditions which they come together to share with one another and with visitors. They have inherited, researched, reconstructed, or apprenticed to learn the techniques with which they create outstanding beadwork, quillwork, basketry, pottery, woodworking and other items for personal use or for sale. Tribal members will also share songs, drumming, dancing, games, food preparation, and other life skills. Abenaki scholars Fred Wiseman and Melody Brook will present wampum readings, and an illustrated program “Seeds of Renewal,” describing the search for and preservation of heirloom plants and associated ceremonies and traditions.

Abenaki Heritage Weekend also includes opportunities to share cultural heritage through illustrated talks and Round Table discussions on topics such as efforts to preserve Abenaki as a living language, and the cultivation, use and exchange of heirloom plants. “I have been amazed by the richness and depth of the cultural and historical information brought out by the Vermont Indigenous bands during their research for Vermont State Recognition,” says Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D., Director of the Wobanakik Heritage Center in Swanton. “This is a new stage with great potential in Vermont culture and history – for Native people to work on their own history and culture and then present the results.”

This year, work by members of Vermont Abenaki Artists Association will be featured in LCMM’s permanent exhibit on the region’s Native peoples, Contact of Cultures.   Inaugurated in 2009 to reflect the maritime skills and traditions of the region’s Native people since the 1609 expedition of Samuel de Champlain, the exhibit has been augmented each year by Abenaki artists and historians working with LCMM staff. Lake Champlain’s first navigators are represented by a full sized bark canoe constructed by Abenaki artist Aaron York in 2007. Abenaki historian Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D. contributed miniature birch bark canoes, an array of canoe paddles, and some of the tools his family used to make them. El-nu Abenaki Chief Roger Longtoe created replicas of fishing lures, hooks, sinkers, and Vera Longtoe used the ancient twining technique preserved by her family to produce a traditional fish net and carrying bag. In 2011 and 2012, Abenaki videographer Lina Longtoe provided documentaries of artists at work, singing, and Abenaki Tribal Recognition events.  

Participation included with daily Museum admission or annual museum membership.

Special Related Programs:

Seeds of Renewal: Presentation on Wednesday June 18, 2014, 6:30-8:30pm

Paddle to Prehistory: Workshop on June 29, 2014


Abenaki Heritage Weekend 2014 Participating Artists

Displays and demonstrations in the Boat Shed and Pine Grove:
Shirly Hook – rawhide rattles
Jeanne Kent – gourd art
Jesse Larocque – ash baskets
Jessee Lawyer – stone carving, miniature coiled horsehair baskets
Linda Longtoe Sheehan – wampum jewelry
Vera Longtoe Sheehan – twining
Jim Taylor – shell wampum
Bernie Mortz – drum making, snow snakes, dance sticks, friendship bows, war clubs
Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Display Table
Haven Project Display Table, Melody Brook
White Pine Association Display Table

Performing Artists and Presenters in the Pine Grove, Boat Shed, Central Green
Circle of Courage Dancers, Brenda Gagne, Missisquoi
Chunky Game Demonstration
Firepit Cooking Demonstration, Doug Bent, Shirly Hook
Roger Longtoe Sheehan – talks, history & culture, singing, storytelling 
Nulhegan Drum
Don Stevens – drumming, storytelling, dance leader
Voices of the Koasek, Women’s Singing Group
Fred Wiseman and Melody Brook: Wampum Readings
Fred Wiseman and Melody Brook: The Haven Project

Melody Brook – Conversations on Spirituality
Artists’ Development Sessions – speak to Arts organization representatives about presenting your art: portfolio review, artists’ statements, researching opportunities, use of social media, etc.