Sipsis – pronounced seep-sees – #Abenaki for small bird
S8soseli – pronunced sohn-SOH-seh-lee #Abenaki for White Throated Sparrow
The pure, simple song of the white-throated sparrow reminds us of the conversations to be joined outside of our own minds. This was going to be a post observing #NationalBirdDay, then realized it was a rather ludicrous construct. So, I will let sparrow speak for himself.
In English, the song is often described as “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody” or, if you are a little further north, “Oh Sweet Canada, Canada, Canada.” I grew up having been taught and hearing the “Oh Sam Peabody” mnemonic. Many small birds are now known (in Western Abenaki) simply as “sipsis” (literally small bird), with no surviving differentiation between species. But a number of specific names have persisted into the present, mostly the more common and larger individuals such as crow, robin, blue jay, eagle, and turkey. I wondered if the #Abenaki had an onomatopoetic name for this little songster, a device often employed in the language, given that the song of the white throated sparrow is so memorable. To my joy, I was able to locate it! Father Rasles gives it as “sôhsohseli” – which I might rewrite as “s8soseli” pronounced sohn-SOH-seh-lee. It is a pretty good evocation of the song.
“The story is here, but it’s been hidden. The Abenaki people, who were written out of the story, are still here.” —VPR
At the Flynn for the first time, the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association shares a performance of both traditional and contemporary Abenaki music, storytelling, and drumming. Performers include Chief Don Stevens, Chief of the Nulhegan band of the Coosuk Abenaki, Nulhegan Abenaki Drum, who combine traditional Northeastern music with the sound of the big powwow drumming, and Bryan Blanchette, a Berklee alumnus who started singing at powwows over 20 years ago and who is currently writing and performing new Abenaki language songs.
Tomorrow, November 14th, from 7:30-10 pm, at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, 153 main St., Burlington, VT 05401.
Tickets went on sale to Flynn members on Tuesday, July 18 and to the general public on Wednesday, August 2. Flynn membership starts at $50 and is available at any time. To become a member visit http://www.flynncenter.org/support-us/membership.html.
Filmed in night vision at the Jamaica State Park archeological dig. The El-Nu Abenaki Tribe Singers led the public through a night of traditional story-telling and songs. Video by Lina Longtoe of Askaw8bi Productions.
The Abenaki Heritage Weekend gathering this weekend (June 24-25, 2017), at the lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, will open each day at 10:30 am with a traditional Greeting Song, such as this.
Members of the Nulhegan Abenaki brought traditional drumming and singing to North Country Union Junior High in Derby, VT on February 2, 2017, as part of the school’s Diversity Program. Photos by Melody Nunn via Facebook – wliwni!
Teprine Baldo has written a wonderful piece about Peg Fullerton and her work in her blog, Strawberry Moon:
“So today I want to highlight a special farmer, seed saver with Seeds of Renewal, Indigenous singer (Voices of the Koas) and so much more, Peggy Fullerton. Founder of the Sagakwa farm in Piedmont NH, Peggy is a member of the Traditional Abenaki Koasek band. I interviewed her to better understand her life as a farmer, her struggles, joys, triumphs and roots. Enjoy.”
The Abenaki women’s choir Voices of the Koas have been recognized in-depth by the Manchester (NH) Union Leader for their commitment to revitalizing the lyrical heritage of the Alnobak. They are based in the Upper (Connecticut River) Valley of Vermont and New Hampshire and are active in sharing their gift of song in the schools and communities of northern New England. They have just released a new CD, Lal8maw8gan, with 9 tracks sung by the group joined by a few of their students, a new generation carrying the culture forward. You may purchase a copy on their website!