Members of the Abenaki nation will bring people into the history and culture of local indigenous groups on Saturday, July 21, at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center. This “day of history,” from noon to 3 p.m., is the second in the Northfield Historical Commission’s series on “bringing to light the native history of our area” that encompasses a period of at least 12,000 years, Commissioner Lisa McLoughlin said.
Roger Longtoe, Chief of the Elnu band of the Abenaki nation, will talk about local history from the 17th century up to modern times, using period-authentic “things that we would have had in the 17th century,” like muskets, spears and bows and arrows, he said. Longtoe specializes in what he calls “living archaeology” of the 17th and 18th centuries, using materials and traditional stories to help people understand the way Abenaki peoples lived when they occupied vast regions in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and eastern New York.
But, “a lot of people have questions about modern history, too,” he said. Now, the Abenaki nation has about 15,000 members and is mostly based in Vermont, with reservations in Quebec. The Elnu band has about 60 members and is based in southern Vermont, making it the southernmost group of the larger nation.
Rich Holschuh, representative of the Elnu band, will lead a walk through Northfield Mountain’s trails where he will try to communicate the traditional understanding of the environment.
“I want to talk about the very real hands-on things in front of us, and then I want to talk about the relationship of the people to this place,” Holschuh said. “All of the various aspects out there in the natural world are considered to be a part of you, literally a relation to you. So you’re going to interact with them as equals. It’s not simply a harvesting or a taking, but there’s also a giving, a reciprocity. It’s a two-way relationship. “Some of these things would be very practical,” like identifications of plants, Holschuh said, “but you’re also perhaps going to learn a lesson from the plant about how it is, why it’s growing there, how it’s growing there.”
Singer-songwriter and guitarist Bryan Blanchette will play traditional and new songs in both Abenaki and English.
Also, an update on a National Park Service-funded study of King Philip’s War will be discussed by David Brule, president of the Nolumbeka Project. The Nolumbeka Project advocates for a more thorough understanding of indigenous history up to and including the colonial era. The study, now in its third phase of funding, is focusing on the Battle Turners Falls.
The Historical Society of Cheshire County will offer the first lecture of its 2018 Wyman Tavern Lecture Series Tuesday, July 24, at 7 p.m.
Lynn Keating Murphy, Abenaki Indian, master educator, and descendant of the Sadoques of Keene, will discuss the history of her family in the Connecticut River Valley and Quebec and their basket-making traditions. The history of the Sadoques family intersects with this area, and provides insights into the complex story of the Abenaki people in the region. The talk will be held at the historical society’s headquarters, 246 Main St. in Keene, and admission is free.
The theme of this year’s Wyman Tavern Lecture Series is “Indigenous people, history and culture into the 21st century.” The Wyman Tavern Lecture Series will continue Aug. 29 when Keith and Kathy Stavely do a book signing for their early American cooking book — “United Tastes: The Making of the First American Cookbook” — and Linda Stavely prepares samples of early American recipes including a Native-American-inspired dish.
On Oct. 7, The Colonial Theatre will host a showing of “A Good Day to Die” — a 2010 documentary that chronicles the American Indian Movement that fought for the civil rights of American Indians.
The series concludes Nov. 3 with a “Basket Day” at the historical society. Members of the public are invited to bring their baskets, and basket experts will be available at the full-day event to identify and record the age, origin, physical characteristics, and known history of each basket. Basket Day will end with a talk by basket expert Lynn Clark on the history of Native American baskets in the Monadnock Region and New Hampshire, and by Lynn Murphy on her family’s Abenaki Indian basket history.
More information: visit hsccnh.org or call 352-1895.