Wabanaki Basketmakers: Harvesting Sweetgrass Can Be Sustainable

wabanaki maine sweetgrass

Before Europeans settled on the East Coast, the Wabanaki tribes had open access to all of Maine’s natural resources, from eels to ash, and sweetgrass to salmon.

Currently jurisdictional battles over important natural resources still simmer, but the Wabanaki nation, and a handful of other federally recognized nations around the country, are working toward harvest rights in some of the nation’s most protected areas. A pilot project underway downeast could serve as a national model.

There are few places more challenging than a Maine marsh in the depths of July, which features humid, clinging air with the odor of rotten egg, plenty of places to disappear into the brackish muck and, of course, lots of mosquitos. But something very important has enticed generations of Wabanaki to places like this each summer.

“See this right here? This is solid, this is all sweetgrass right here. All of this…Behind you there’s another batch, but over there? See…that’s mixed in,” says Gal Frey.

Read and listen to this story at Maine Public.

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Early Abenaki Life Through the Artwork of Bea Nelson

bea nelson abenaki sugarmaking

We have so much talent here in the Northeast Kingdom. The March issue of Vermont’s Northland Journal will feature the sketches of early Abenaki life by Bea Nelson of Derby. Her work and knowledge are simply amazing. It only seems fitting that her work appears in the March issue – our sugaring edition. History indicates it was the Abenaki and other Native groups who taught the first European settlers about the wonders of the sugarmaking. These are some of Bea’s artworks.

See the full notice at the Northland Journal blog.

WPTZ’s Tom Messner with Chief Don Stevens and Professor Fred Wiseman

Four separate video segments:

  • Meteorologist Tom Messner of Burlington, Vermont’s WPTZ – NBC Channel 5 talks with Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe about indigenous persistence, traditional crops and wisdom, and educational outreach. Link here.
  • In the second segment, he speaks further with Professor Fred Wiseman, featuring artful interpretations of those themes by elementary students. Link here.
  • In the third segment, Tom continues to talk with Fed Wiseman about the Seeds of Renewal Project and the return of Abenaki heritage crops and techniques. Link here.
  • And in the fourth piece, members of the Nulhegan Abenaki drum group demonstrates their traditional singing and drumming. Link here.
  • Filmed November 15, 2016 at the Harvest Celebration with the Seeds of Renewal Project at the ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain in Burlington.

Link to the Facebook event page.

Indigenous Wabanaki Harvest School To Be Held

abenaki agriculture

Short notice, but the Montpelier Bridge has listed notice (article here) of an all-day presentation about Wabanaki agriculture, with a special focus on celebrating a Native harvest feast. Hosted by The Center for Integrative Herbalism, it will be held tomorrow, November 7, 2015, beginning at 9 am. This builds on Dr. Fred Wiseman’s ongoing work with the Seeds of Renewal Project, researching and restoring the history and culture of Wabanaki food production, cycles, and ceremony.