When Deb Reger began her weekly radio show, “Moccasin Tracks,” on WRUV 90.1 FM last Tuesday at noon, she reminded her listeners where she was. “We recognize this area where we broadcast from as N’Dakinna, the ancestral homeland of the Abenaki nation,” she said from the radio station’s studio in the University of Vermont’s Davis Center in Burlington.
As the song “Grandmother” by Navajo artist Radmilla Cody played in the background, Reger told listeners that her guest for the week was Grandmother Nancy Andry, an elder who lives in Connecticut and is of Algonquin and Metis heritage. It took a couple of tries before Reger got through on the phone to her guest. So the seasoned radio host adjusted her playlist to include longer songs. She wasn’t too frazzled, though. “It happens,” she explained.
Reger started “Moccasin Tracks” in 2009 because she wanted to produce a show that featured the voices and music of native peoples. “You just didn’t hear [from them] that much,” Reger said.
Reger, who doesn’t claim any native ancestry, stresses she doesn’t seek to speak for the native peoples. Her goal is to let them represent themselves and tell their stories. “I hold this space, this broadcast time, for the people who are underserved,” the radio host said.
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.”
Sponsored by the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs:
The purpose of the Vermont Indigenous Youth Essay Contest is to promote a sense of pride and community among indigenous youth in the State of Vermont. The commission would like to foster positivity surrounding identity and how their unique perspective brings value to self and the communities they belong to.
Eligibility: The contest is for indigenous students in two categories: Grades 7 through 8 and 9 through 12 who are living in the State of Vermont. Students must identify as Native American or First Nations.
Rules: Please answer the essay question below in 1000 words or less. Submissions can be emailed to Jennifer.firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs, 1 National Life Drive, Davis Building 6th Floor, Montpelier, VT 05620-0501. The deadline for submission is May 15. Results will be announced at the Heritage Celebration at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum on June 24. The Moccasin Tracks Radio Program will be hosting participants from this contest for a radio program on May 18.
Question: How does your indigenous heritage inform the way that you walk through the world?
Prize: Students who receive recognition for their essays will receive an award from the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and all students will select from a list of experiences with an indigenous community member. Examples of an experience may be learning a particular craft, such as twining, beadwork, or finger weaving, or spending an afternoon with a chief or other leader in the community. Students can elect to participate in the Moccasin Tracks Radio Program as well.
Link to a pdf file of this announcement: Indigenous-Heritage-Essay-Contest
Chris Lenois of WKVT’s Green Mountain Mornings and Mike Faher of VTdigger.org and the Brattleboro Reformer discuss the granting of party status in VT PSB Docket 8880 to two Abenaki tribal groups, Elnu and Missisquoi. BCTV footage begins at 1:55.
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.