A positive piece on VPR yesterday, talking and walking with Tom Beck of Nulhegan Abenaki, getting to know #allourrelations. Audio from the podcast is included.
“To prevent their collective cultural knowledge about medicinal plants from disappearing, some Vermont tribal nations are sharing their expertise with those outside the native communities.
On a recent sunny morning, a small group of 10 or so people gathered in the parking lot at the entrance to Vermont state land for a educational plant walk through the forest.
Before making it out of the parking lot, Tom Beck, one of the instructors, pointed out the first medicinal plant to the group. “Right here, this is a piece of sweet grass, it’s actually pretty long, and it’s quite nice,” says Beck. He’s a spiritual leader of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, a state-recognized tribe in Vermont.
Beck has picked up a wide blade of green grass about two feet long, and he’s holding it delicately between his weathered fingers. “When you take this and you braid it together, it’s your mind, your body and your spirit working together,” says Beck. “It’s a self-diagnostic tool.”
Beck says the sweet grass braids are burned in a ceremony, and how evenly the three strands burn is an indicator of how your mind, body and spirit are working together. It can be a reminder to attend to that balance. “If it burns straight across, you know your mind, your body and your spirit is working together equally,” Beck says.
See the full article with Kathleen Masterson on VPR News here.
Mike Faher was interviewed by Jane Lindholm today, on Vermont Edition, discussing his ongoing coverage of the proposed VY sale under consideration by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC Docket No. 8880). Among other updates, they discussed the Elnu Abenaki testimony regarding their concerns at the site in the heart of Sokwakik and how that might be handled in the process.
Article and podcast here. Go to 18:40 in.
A podcast exploring the status of Abenaki Native Americans in Vermont and a video that uses Legos to explain the Iowa caucus, and breaking news coverage of the Northeast Kingdom EB-5 scandal have won Vermont Public Radio three national journalism awards for its work in 2016.
Best News Documentary: “What is the status of the Abenaki Native Americans in Vermont today?”
Each month, the podcast Brave Little State answers a question submitted by a listener and voted on by the community. The winning piece took on the question question: “What is the status of the Abenaki Native Americans in Vermont today?”.
Angela Evancie, the podcast’s host and creator, says the show’s people-powered model, which was pioneered by WBEZ’s Curious City, has opened up a radical new way of reporting.
“In the case of this story about Vermont’s Abenaki, a seemingly simple question prompted complicated conversations about how the native community sees — and doesn’t see — itself in contemporary Vermont,” Evancie said. “I was so grateful to the Abenaki leaders who opened up their homes and tribal headquarters to me, and trusted me to share a small part of their story.”
See the full report here.
A great piece on NPR yesterday (June 30, 2017) with a nearly hour-long audio track about early trail systems and their multi-levels of significance. Listen here.
“Long before our modern highways, there was an extensive network of Native American trails up and down the East Coast. This hour, we hear about efforts to map these old trails and find out how they’re helping archaeologists and others learn about the past.
We begin our conversation in former Cherokee country to find out why a North Carolina man and an archaeologist are mapping hundreds of miles of old Cherokee trails. Then we head back to Connecticut’s woods where many Native American tribes used trails to link villages — spurring on trade and facilitating war.”
One woman discovered the power of community radio in 2009, when the indigenous people of Vermont were still not recognized at a state level. Some tribes of the Abenaki nation, the people native to the region now known as Vermont, achieved state recognition as late as 2012, according to the state website.
Deb Reger, host of Moccasin Tracks on 90.1 WRUV, felt conversations about these people were held exclusively at state and professional levels. “As a non-native person, I felt like I needed to know the truth,” she said. “I wanted to hear the truth from the people themselves, not be told by privileged white people.”
Reger created Moccasin Tracks to voice the stories and perspectives of Native Americans.
Read the article by Maddy Pimental about Deb and the Show in UVM’s Vermont Cynic online paper.
For his exhibition, Tim Brookes carved phrases into indigenous wood using disappearing or endangered alphabets from across the globe. Pictured, in Abenaki, the phrase, ‘Language of the grandfathers who went before’ is carved into a plank of walnut. Photo from VPR.
Six years ago, writer and Champlain College professor Tim Brookes carved letters into wooden planks to give to family as holiday gifts. The presents were well received and Brookes enjoyed his new hobby. He added new and different alphabet letters and languages to his hand-carved signs. Then, by chance, Brookes learned just how many of the globe’s writing systems were disappearing and a project was born: The Endangered Alphabets Project.
Brookes talked with VPR about the Endangered Alphabets Project exhibition, up now at Champlain College through March 10. The thirteen carvings each bear the phrase, “Mother Tongue,” written in Abenaki, Balinese, Mandean, Inuktitut and several other cultures whose written word is disappearing.
Full article and podcast at VPR.
This is Part 2 of a two-part story, within the podcast series from Brattleboro Historical Society, produced by Joe Rivers and his BAMS history students. You can check out Part 1 here. It gives additional background to the subsuming of critical areas in Sokwakik, and particularly the flooding of the Retreat Meadows, by the completion of the Vernon, Vermont hydroelectric dam in 1909. Prior to this date, the now-flooded meadows – known as mskodak in Aln8baiwi – were prime farmland for the Sokwakiak who dwelt here, and subsequently the European settlers that arrived in the mid-1700’s. There are multiple newspaper reports of native burials being exhumed within this alluvial bowl, just west of the mouth of the Wantastekw (I will be documenting them here over time). Sokoki Abenaki heritage and interests were ignored and ravaged, a situation which remains ongoing and challenging.