On Wednesday, April 17, 2019, the Vermont House passed S.68 in concurrence with the Senate. Governor Phil Scott indicated in a press conference the next day (4/18) that he expects to add his signature and sign it into law shortly (at about 30:20 into the video). With much support and assistance from members of the community, this definitive step has been taken. Its significance is demonstrated by the continued opposition by some to the basic underlying premise: a celebration of the individual Christopher Columbus subverts the millions that were (and are) systematically subjugated following his lead. We know better, and to know and not do, is more than hypocritical, it is duplicitous.
Vermont State Rep. Brian Cina, a major legislative supporter and booster of this action, celebrates the passage of S.68 on April 17, 2019. (via Rep. Cina on Facebook)
S.68’s text can be read here.
The news story was picked up initially by the Vermont media at Burlington Free Press and VTDigger, and since then by others, including USA Today, WCAX, The Hill, and Fox News, among others.
In 2011 and 2012, the state of Vermont officially recognized four Abenaki tribes: Elnu, Nulhegan, Koasek and Missisquoi.
“History books, museums, and schools in New England often present Native culture as if the Abenaki disappeared in the 18th century,” says Vera Longtoe Sheehan, director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. “After we received Vermont state recognition the Abenaki people created the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association as a forum to showcase our artists and our vibrant culture. Now we are trying to bridge the gap between the Native and Non-Native communities through the “Wearing Our Heritage” project. Our goals are to reclaim our place in New England history, to make connections between our shared past and the present, and for our art to be accepted on the same terms as art from other cultures of the world.”
Although there is little mention of the Abenaki in 19th century history books, Abenaki people continued to live in their homelands, and maintain strong oral histories and traditions from earlier times. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Abenaki people undertook a systematic cultural revitalization that involves a return to traditional lifeways and skills. Ironically, for many years they were not recognized by federal or state government because they had never entered into a treaty that surrendered their territory to the United States.
Read this comprehensive article by Vera Longtoe Sheehan and Eloise Beil, for the Burlington Free Press.
Join the Abenaki community on June 23 and June 24 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum near Vergennes for a weekend of family fun and cultural sharing that is deeply rooted in local Native American heritage.
Organized by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association with members of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation, Missisquoi Abenaki Tribe and guest artists, the event is designed to give visitors an Indigenous perspective on life in the Champlain Valley both past and present.
Activities will include drumming, storytelling, craft and cooking demonstrations, an Arts Marketplace, and presentations by guest artists including Black Hawk Singers Drum Group, and Jesse Bruchac telling stories in Abenaki and English, accompanied by flute and drum.
See the full story in the Burlington Free Press.
Warren Zevon’s ex-wife began selling the late rocker’s copious book collection on eBay last year to raise money for a planned community center in her hometown of West Barnet. Crystal Zevon hoped to bring in $1,000 a month to pay for upkeep on the site she dubbed Brookview.
She raised that, and then some. “I don’t have an exact number, but I believe we’ve raised about $13,000. Probably a bit more,” Crystal Zevon wrote late last month in an email to the Burlington Free Press.
Brookview, according to Zevon, is transitioning to an Abenaki cultural center. “The spiritual leader of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation and his wife are now living in the house,” wrote Zevon, who has long been involved in Native American issues. “Aside from paying the monthly expenses, the money raised is being used to make workshop space handicapped accessible for cultural classes and workshops, meetings, ceremonies related to the preservation of the Abenaki culture.”
Community events are also welcome at the space, according to Zevon, but Abenaki events will take priority. “Lots of hopes and plans afoot,” she wrote.
See the article by Brent Hallenbeck in the Burlington Free Press.
A new exhibit at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery highlights the wearable art of the Abenaki population in and around Vermont.
“Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage” opened Saturday with a discussion by co-curators Vera Longtoe Sheehan of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Eloise Beil of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. The exhibit will be on display through June 17.
Read the full article in the Burlington Free Press.
VPR also picked up the story of the exhibit. See their coverage here.
Chief Lawrence “Moose” Lampman hopes to do what other chiefs before him, including his father, failed to do. He wants to obtain federal recognition for the Missisquoi band of Abenaki Indians, his tribe of over 2,200 individuals. The political fight will be expensive and arduous, but he is prepared to maneuver legislative red tape despite an ongoing battle with lung cancer.
Lampman, 63, sat in his office in the tribal council building on Grand Avenue in early August. To his right hung a weathered photo of his great-grandmother, an Abenaki like him. “I want to see federal recognition, and I want to see this building bustling with people and life,” Lampman said. That day, it was just him and his sister in their respective offices. The large main space inside the front door, decorated with artifacts and an Abenaki flag, was empty.
Read the full story in the Burlington Free Press.
Abenaki tribes in Vermont have been hard at work promoting education and trying to improve public perception of American Indians. Roger Longtoe, Chief of the Elnu Abenaki tribe, said he has seen positive change over the past few years since state recognition occurred. “It’s happening little by little, but I’m seeing more people being aware of us,” said Longtoe, whose tribe is based in the southern Vermont town of Jamaica.
Full story in the Burlington Free Press.