Next weekend, June 24 &25, 2017, at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont. This is a wonderful, friendly, and positive gathering. A schedule of the planned activities is below:
In May 2012, then Vermont governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the state recognition of four of Vermont’s Abenaki tribes: the Elnu, Nulhegan, Koasek and Missisquoi. The victory had more than symbolic significance: Formal recognition meant that many of Vermont’s contemporary indigenous artists could begin legally to label their work as “American Indian.” According to Elnu Abenaki member Vera Longtoe Sheehan, access to this designation has opened many new doors — including, at least indirectly, doors to galleries.
Such fraught politics of visibility and authenticity are very much at the heart of “Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage,” now on view at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery in Burlington. The show offers a chronological survey of Abenaki fashion and adornment, from the pre-Champlain era to the present day, accompanied by both modern and historical photographs.
There’s a twist, though: Almost all of the objects on view are contemporary, regardless of the era they were created to represent. While reproductions are often considered to be lesser facsimiles, in this case, the absence of “traditional” artifacts speaks to the 20-plus artists’ ongoing commitment to making their history and heritage come alive.
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.
VPR also picked up the story of the exhibit. See their coverage here.
The special exhibit “Wearing Our Heritage” offers rare opportunity to see clothing worn by Abenaki men and women of earlier generations. Abenaki scholar and activist Frederick M. Wiseman has gathered original garments and accessories to assemble representative outfits like those worn by Abenaki men and women before 1850 as well as outfits for a man and a woman during in the 1900s through 1920s. The exhibit also includes examples of accessories such as moccasin tops, collars, head bands, needle cases and pouches.
Photo credit: Donald Soctomah
Visit the Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge next weekend to join a presentation by Dr. Fred Wiseman examining 10,000 years of Wabanaki clothing and accessories, the first in the 2016 Abenaki Life Program Series.
When: January 29 2016, 6-8 pm
Where: Missisquoi Wildlife Refuge, 29 Tabor Road, Swanton VT 05488 Phone 802-868-4781
Last fall, Dr. Fred Wiseman of Swanton Vermont, as well as the Wapohnaki Museum Cultural Center and the Passamaquoddy Cultural Heritage Museum, co-produced an historic fashion show in Maine. It featured 24 of Dr. Wiseman’s original and re-created clothing outfits, based on over 25 years of study of historic and ancient Abenaki clothing, headgear, jewelry and fashion accessories. Anyone interested in learning about a little-known facet of Vermont’s fascinating fashion history will want to join Dr. Wiseman to hear how the event went — and most importantly, how the wearing of ancestral clothing affected the young Native people who wore the attire. This deeply moving cultural experience has much to teach indigenous people in Vermont about tribal revitalization, and points the way, perhaps, to new directions in Abenaki arts. Dr Wiseman will share a rich slide show of reconstructed and original prehistoric and historic clothing, including that of an Ice-Age mariner on the Champlain Sea, 1600’s warriors defending their homeland, and 1920’s basket sellers at Highgate Springs. In addition, he will share some rare examples of historic Abenaki, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy clothing that have survived until this day. Dr. Wiseman will also preview the “Alnobak” clothing exhibit that is planned to open in June at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes. Following the presentation there will be time for questions as well as time to view the original Abenaki clothing from Wiseman’s collection.