With the Barre Heritage Festival around the corner, it’s a good time to look back and celebrate Barre’s history. For many people, that means looking back over 200 years to when the town was officially founded. How about looking back over 10,000 years?
The people native to the area, the Abenaki, are a community that has lived in the central Vermont area ever since their ancestors first migrated here several thousands of years ago.
Thirty people, give or take, are “American Indian and Alaska Native alone” in Barre (City and Town) taken together according to the Vermont Census. More Abenaki people might identify as being of “two or more races,” and they aren’t included in that number.
Read the full article by Will Kyle in the Montpelier Bridge.
Though the seventh day of the Connecticut River Conservancy’s From Source to Sea journey didn’t go quite as planned, no one seemed to mind. A presentation was meant to be on the water, but organizers say the new boat was not certified by the Coast Guard in time for the event. So instead, the group held the presentation at the Northfield Mountain Recreation Center’s picnic area on the shore of the Connecticut River.
Roger Longtoe, Rich Holschuh and David Brule all spoke during the one and a half hour event on Sunday afternoon. Longtoe and Holschuh are from the Elnu Abenaki tribe out of Vermont, and Brule is the president of the local Nolumbeka project, a non-tribal Native American organization that promotes education on Native issues.
All three men discussed how their tribes and organizations intersect with the river. Longtoe discussed its previous use as a “grocery store” where local tribes were able to get fish, as well as the areas along the river that were used as camps and meeting places between local tribes. “It’s a place where you gather, come and eat, and they’ve been doing this for a very long time,” he said.
Holschuh talked about the Abenaki language and how it relates to the indigenous culture around the area. Brule discussed more recent events and history around the river.
Andrew Fisk, executive director of the Conservancy, said incorporating Native American viewpoints into the ongoing work on the river has been helpful. He said the Conservancy’s main job is to listen and understand other points of view. “This has been incredibly informative for us, to listen and hear about how they see the river,” he said.
Fisk said the goal is to continue to celebrate the river and tackle the challenges surrounding it, especially related to the dams along the river and ensuring there is a smaller ecological footprint left behind.
The From Source to Sea journey began on July 16 and ends on July 30. It started at the mouth of the river, Fourth Connecticut Lake and will end at the Long Island Sound.
The Abenaki are here. They exist. And yet, they still live in a reality where not everyone is aware of that. But that is changing, slowly, but it is changing, said Joe Graveline, a member of the Northfield Historical Commission.
“They are having a renaissance, a rebirth in understanding their heritage,” he said. “They are finding their voice.”
A better understanding not only of the history of the Abenaki people but their place in the here and now — is just one of the many reasons why living history events like the one the Northfield Historical Commission is sponsoring this weekend are so important, Graveline said.
Read the full article in the Brattleboro Reformer. Two previous posts on Sokoki Sojourn reference Greenfield Recorder articles about the same event (here and here). Unfortunately, this well-written article ran a week too late. The Northfield event had already been held the previous weekend, on June 11, 2017.
Also, one correction, with respect to the quote “Among the Abenaki people, who made their homes in the Connecticut River Valley of what is now New Hampshire, Vermont and Massachusetts, were the Sokoki and a smaller, related band called the Squakheags — both members of the larger Abenaki nation.” These are, in fact, the same people. A simple linguistic comparison between Squakheag and Sokwakik (Sokoki, in today’s usage) makes that clear. More on that soon…
Residents of Northfield and the surrounding area spent Sunday afternoon at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center, learning more about pre-colonial and Native American traditions and customs from the Connecticut River Valley.
Those who attended the afternoon encampment listened to songs and stories while browsing crafts. It was an interactive event where Elnu Abenaki tribal leaders presented to the group, told stories, and answered questions about pre-colonial times in the Pioneer Valley. The event was hosted by the Northfield Historical Commission.
Elnu Abenaki Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan and Bryan Blanchette both presented during the event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and about 50 [ed. note: closer to 100] people attended on Sunday.
Read the full article by Miranda Davis in the Greenfield Recorder.
Residents will get a taste of local Native American history Sunday, as members of the Abenaki tribe recreate the mid-17th century lives of their ancestors as part of Northfield’s Day of History. The Day of History, organized almost every year by the Northfield Historical Commission, serves to raise awareness of the commission while teaching residents about the town’s history, according to Historical Commission Chairwoman Carol Lebo.
In recent years, the commission has offered a home and garden tour, an exploration of 19th-century evangelist Dwight L. Moody’s birthplace and a history-oriented walk down Highland Avenue. But Lebo said the commission wanted to try something new this year. “Up until recently, the Historical Commission has been mostly interested in colonial history,” she said. “More recently we’ve become more interested in pre-colonial history and in archaeology … We decided this year that we’d sort of go back to earlier history.”
Through connections to different bands of the Abenaki tribe, the commission was able to arrange for members of the Elnu band to offer a re-enactment Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside of the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center.
Read the full article by Shelby Ashline in the Greenfield Recorder.
Sunday, April 30, 2017: From 4 to 6 PM, as part of the Pinnacle Association’s Annual Meeting, there will be a Feature Program entitled “We Are Still Here – Abenaki Culture and Contemporary Issues.” Speakers are Rich Holschuh and Roger Longtoe Sheehan. Holschuh, who serves on the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs and traces his heritage to the Mi’kmaq/Penobscot – fellow Nations with the Abenaki, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy in the Wabanaki Confederacy – will discuss the Abenaki Heritage in Vermont, the indigenous people’s relation to the land, their interactions with the European settlers, and their efforts to reclaim their culture. Roger Longtoe Sheehan – Abenaki artist, native musician, educator, and Chief of the El-Nu Abenaki Tribe – is a talented, self-taught artist who is a well-known creator of soapstone pipes and Native arts and tools. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and talents at Abenaki Living History events.
The meeting and program will take place upstairs at Main Street Arts, 35 Main Street in Saxtons River. Members and the public are encouraged to attend to learn about Vermont’s Native Americans and about plans the Pinnacle Association has for the coming year, WHPA elections, and its Volunteer of the Year Award. Refreshments will be served, and maps will be on display before the meeting and program. Of special interest will be a map of the Pinnacle Association’s ridgeline properties that will include the new 50-acre Radford land gift. A new trail planned for that section will enhance WHPA’s 25-mile trail system whose main section runs from Putney Mountain to Grafton.
For further information, contact Rick Cowan or email@example.com.
See the full web announcement here.
See a related announcement article in the Commons here.
As part of this year’s Brattleboro Winter Carnival celebration, the newly-minted non-profit Retreat Farm‘s Open Barn schedule includes two sessions with Abenaki storytellers. Stop in to join Willow Greene on Friday and Roger Longtoe Sheehan on Saturday for the winter tradition of storytelling, along with other opportunities hosted by the Farm.
Friday, February 24
Noon – 4:00
Open Barn Preview
Bonfire (with food!*)
Children’s activities & animals
2:00 Abenaki storyteller Willow Greene
Saturday, February 25
Noon – 4:00
Open Barn Preview
Bonfire (with food!*)
Children’s activities & familiar animals
2:00 Abenaki storyteller Roger Longtoe Sheehan, Chief of the ELNU Abenaki tribe