The Light Behind Our Eyes: Abenaki Perspectives on Personhood

light behind our eyes melody walker brook abenaki personhood poster

Melody Walker Brook is an educator, activist and artist, currently an adjunct professor at Champlain College. She was previously an adjunct professor at Johnson State College where she taught “Native American Worldview and Spirituality”; “Native American History and Culture”; and “Abenakis and Their Neighbors”.  She gives lectures on a variety of topics, including Abenaki history, women’s issues, and Abenaki political history. She has done ground breaking research on Abenaki Spirituality and is heavily involved in the Abenaki cultural revitalization movement.  She works with museums, lectures in both the K-12 and collegiate level classroom on topics relating to the Eastern Woodlands and indigenous history.

Come early to get one more chance to win one of the beautiful raffle items donated by the wonderful Pocumtuck Homelands Festival vendors last August. Doors open at 12:30 p.m.

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Still Here After 12,000 Years: Honoring the Sites and Cultures of Indigenous New England

Peabody Museum canoe modelsPatricia Harris and David Lyon in the Boston Globe, November 3, 2017

In November, most of us turn our thoughts to big turkey dinners and first-wave English settlers in long stockings and buckle hats. Conventional Thanksgiving lore does give props to Massasoit and Plymouth-area Wampanoag for bringing most of the food to dinner. But the Pilgrims are only one part of the story. The Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth Plantation depicts Native life vividly, but here are a half dozen museums that focus exclusively on the indigenous side of New England’s heritage. By the way, they are all closed on Thanksgiving, and some will soon close for the winter.

Abbe Museum, Bar Harbor, ME

In May 2016, the Abbe Museum unveiled “People of the First Light.” The new core exhibit takes its name from the term that many indigenous people of the Northeast — including the five nations of the Wabanaki Confederacy — use to describe themselves. They are the people of the sunrise, and the exhibit likewise marks a new day for the Abbe. Originally a small museum in Acadia National Park, the Abbe opened in 1928 to interpret Native artifacts found around Frenchman Bay. The modern downtown facility now tells a more comprehensive story of 12,000 years of indigenous culture in the Wabanaki homeland, and it does so from a Native perspective.

Tribal historians, artists, and educators advised in exhibit development. Gina Brooks, a Maliseet artist from New Brunswick, created dramatic illustrations of legends and tales from the oral tradition that inform many exhibits. The Abbe’s science and ethnography remain as rigorous as ever, but learning about the continuity of indigenous culture in the voices of the people themselves brings an immediacy to the experience. 26 Mt. Desert St., Bar Harbor, Maine. 207-288-3519, abbemuseum.org. Open through April Thurs.-Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., closed January. Free until Dec. 22. Otherwise, adults $8, seniors $7, ages 11-17 $4, ages 10 and under free.

Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum, Warner, NH

Founded by Charles and Nancy Thompson, the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum represents a singular vision of a master collector. Inspired by a school visit from Pequot sachem Silverstar when he was in the second grade, “Bud” Thompson amassed a major collection of artifacts and artwork representing tribes across North America. The museum sits in the homeland of the Abenaki (one of the five peoples of the Wabanaki Confederacy) and about a quarter of the collection represents peoples of the Northeast. Many works chronicle the growth of basketry and beadwork as Native economic mainstays in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The contemporary art gallery features two exhibits each year guest-curated by members of the Native community. 18 Highlawn Road, Warner, N.H. 603-456-2600, indianmuseum.org. Open through Nov. Sat.-Sun. noon-5 p.m. Adults $9, seniors and students $8, ages 6-12 $7, family $26.

Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Museum, Mashpee, MA

Created in 1970, more than three centuries after the establishment of Mashpee as a “praying village,” this compact museum and cultural center occupies a circa-1793 half-Cape home in the historic heart of the Mashpee Wampanoag homeland. (Eighty-five percent of tribal members live within 20 miles.) It sits next to the historic Herring Run, where some Wampanoag still harvest fish in the early spring.

This year the museum has seen a swell of visitors eager to learn more about the Wampanoag. One of the first things they learn is that Wampanoag culture finds many opportunities for thanksgiving throughout the year. The museum focuses principally on the post-1620 era, and on the contributions and achievements of Wampanoag people. A small but fascinating exhibit on Native American whaling is up this fall, but may be coming down next year. Although the museum closes for the winter on Dec. 1, off-season visitors can see a traditional round, bark-covered Wampanoag house on the grounds. 414 Main St., Mashpee. 508-477-9339, MashpeeWampanoagTribe-nsn.gov/museum. Open through Nov. Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Adults $5, ages 6-18 $2, seniors and educators $4, family $10.

Tomaquag Museum, Exeter, RI

You’ll meet a lot of indigenous people in the exhibits at this museum in the heart of Narragansett country. One display features two-time Boston Marathon winner Ellison “Tarzan” Brown. Another sketches the achievements of tribal historian Mary Glasko. Known as Princess Red Wing, she served as a delegate to the United Nations and co-founded the museum in 1958. The last living Narragansett sub-chief, 96-year-old Kenneth “Strong Horse” Smith, donated his turkey feather headdress and other ceremonial clothing for another exhibit. Connections span the generations. A beautiful circa-1850 Narragansett bark canoe hanging from the rafters comes from the family of executive director Lorén Spears.

Continuity is omnipresent. Next to historic Narragansett baskets with now-faded stamped vegetable dye designs is a case showing how a contemporary basketmaker constructs a traditional basket. Everything in the museum seems to have a story, often including the name of the person who made it, wore it, used it, or passed it down. Each quarter, the museum showcases a different contemporary Native artist, many of whom sell their work in the museum’s gift shop. 390 Summit Road, Exeter, R.I. 401-491-9063, tomaquagmuseum.org. Open all year Wed. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sat 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Adults $6, seniors and students $5, children $3.

Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center, Mashantucket, CT

Filling an airy modern building in the woods near Foxwoods Casino, this museum pulls out all the stops to relate the history and flesh out the cultural nuances of what it means to be Pequot. An archaeological dig on the Mashantucket reservation places the earliest settlement as 9,500 years ago, just as the glaciers receded. But the exhibits quickly move on to more recent eras.

When European colonists arrived, the Pequot were a prosperous nation that held sway over large parts of what is now Connecticut. Moving exhibits detail their near-extinction in the 17th century and their dwindling numbers and influence thereafter. This institution shines at teasing out the palpable resilience of people who clung to their identity through all forms of adversity. The exhibits are so thorough and compelling that it is easy to spend half a day here — a small investment of time to become acquainted with a people. 110 Pequot Trail, Mashantucket, Conn. 800-411-9671, pequotmuseum.org. Open through Nov. Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults $20, seniors and college students $15, ages 6-17 $12.

Nearby, the Mohegan Tribe operates a small museum with a diverse collection of objects from many Northeastern, Plains, and Southwestern tribes. Call the Tantaquidgeon Indian Museum (1819 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville, Conn., 860-848-3985, mohegan.nsn.us) ahead as opening hours can vary.

Institute for American Indian Studies, Washington, CT

Located on a wooded 15-acre campus in the Litchfield Hills, this museum has carried out more than 500 archaeological excavations in Connecticut since it was founded in 1975. The outdoor replica of an Algonkian Village is an especially evocative large-scale display of woodland life in the period 350-1000 years ago. The museum also works with all five state-recognized tribes (the Mashantucket Pequot, the Eastern Pequot, the Mohegan, the Schaghticoke, and the Paugussett) for contemporary programs. 38 Curtis Road, Washington, Conn. 860-868-0518, iaismuseum.org. Open all year Weds.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m. Adults $10, seniors $8, ages 3-12 $6.

Town of Wendell, Tribes Join Forces to ID Ceremonial Sites

A group of collaborating Native American tribes has offered to work with Massachusetts towns to identify landscapes of ceremonial or religious significance to their heritage, and Wendell is taking them up on that.

The history of indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes and the importance of maintaining their integrity and tranquility was explained to the Selectboard by Doug Harris, deputy tribal historic preservation officer for the Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office in Charlestown, R.I.

Harris said these sites probably exist in every town in the state, and Wendell is no exception.

Read the full story by Dominic Poli in the Greenfield Recorder here.

Judy Dow on Eugenics at Holyoke College Oct. 30th

judy dow mount holyoke eugenics oct 30

On Monday, 10/30/2017, Judy Dow, Abenaki activist and educator, will be speaking at Mount Holyoke College on the topic of “Is our future really our history?  eugenics of the past and today.”  The talk is part of the Fall seminar series sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences.  pdf here JudyDowOct30MtHolyoke

Time: 4:30 p.m. (refreshments served at 4:15 p.m.)
Location: Cleveland Room L2, Mount Holyoke College
Open to the public!

STCC Diversity Series Keynote Speaker Adrienne Keene

adrienne keene

On behalf of the STCC Office of Multicultural Affairs, you are invited to our 2017-2018 Diversity Speaker & Performance Series featuring our keynote speaker for Native American Heritage Month, Dr. Adrienne Keene.

Dr. Keene will be joining us on November 2, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. in Scibelli Hall. This is a free event, open to ALL!
pdf of the poster for this event is here > Adrienne Keene Flyer 8-22-17 (1)

Annual Nipmuc Deer Island Memorial (Day of Remembrance)

Via Rick Pouliot at Gedakina:

She:kon/Greetings

We wanted to pass this information along for the 2017 Deer Island Memorial on behalf of the Natick Nipmuc Indian Council.  Folks interested in paddling and/or walking/running should contact Kristen Wyman: kmwyman09@gmail.com

We also wanted to mention that even if you can’t participant as a paddler, runner or walker – please come out and support this important event. In addition to a morning circle at Deer Island, there is an afternoon circle at the Falls in South Natick, followed by a community potluck social. If you can – we know that the paddlers also appreciate being welcomed after the 18 mile paddle; and runners/walkers appreciate the support as they run/walk into South Natick.

Hope to see you on the 7th.

Rick Pouliot  GEDAKINA

*****

Natick  Nipmuc  Indian  Council DEER  ISLAND  MEMORIAL  2017

SACRED  PADDLE  and  WALK Saturday,  October  7,  2017

All  are  invited  for  a  Day  of  Remembrance  in  honor  of  the  Native  peoples forcibly  removed  in October  1675  from  South Natick  and  the  other  “Praying  Towns”  by  the  Massachusetts  Bay Colony,  and  imprisoned  on  Deer  Island  in  Boston  Harbor during  the  resistance  known  as  King Phillip’s  War.  The  few  who  survived  returned  to  their  aboriginal  homelands to  rebuild their lives  and  tribal  nations.  We  remember  the  ancestors’  sacrifice  and  survival  through  ceremony on  Deer  Island,  a  Sacred Paddle  through  Boston  Harbor  up  the  Charles  River  and  a  walk  from Brighton  to  Natick.  The  day  ends  in  prayer  at  the  falls  in South  Natick  and  a  Potluck  Feast  and Social.

Schedule:
8:00  AM Paddlers  meet  at  Community  Rowing,  20  Nonantum  Road,  Brighton,  MA

8:30  AM Paddlers  are  shuttled  to  Deer  Island  for  9:00AM  arrival,  gear-up  &  safety instruction

9:00  AM Welcome  Circle/Discussion  (Spectators  Only)  at  Deer  Island,  190  Tafts  Avenue, Winthrop,  MA

9:30  AM Prayer  and  send-off .  Sacred  Paddle  departs  from  Deer  Island.  Sacred  walkers caravan  to  Brighton.

10:30  AM Walkers  depart  to  the  falls  in  South  Natick

1:30  PM Sacred  Paddle  arrives  at  Community  Rowing ,  20  Nonantum  Rd.  Brighton (Time  is  approximate)

3:00  PM Ceremony  at  the  falls  in  South  Natick ,  58  Eliot  St.,  Natick,  MA

4:00  PM Potluck  Feast  and  Social  at  St.  Paul’s  Episcopal  Church,  39  E  Central  St,  Natick, MA  01760

Special  thanks  to  Gedakina,  Nipmuk  Nashaounk,  and  all  our  volunteers. 

Deer Island Memorial Announcement 2017.docx (2)