Before Europeans settled on the East Coast, the Wabanaki tribes had open access to all of Maine’s natural resources, from eels to ash, and sweetgrass to salmon.
Currently jurisdictional battles over important natural resources still simmer, but the Wabanaki nation, and a handful of other federally recognized nations around the country, are working toward harvest rights in some of the nation’s most protected areas. A pilot project underway downeast could serve as a national model.
There are few places more challenging than a Maine marsh in the depths of July, which features humid, clinging air with the odor of rotten egg, plenty of places to disappear into the brackish muck and, of course, lots of mosquitos. But something very important has enticed generations of Wabanaki to places like this each summer.
“See this right here? This is solid, this is all sweetgrass right here. All of this…Behind you there’s another batch, but over there? See…that’s mixed in,” says Gal Frey.
Read and listen to this story at Maine Public.
Since people have lived in New Brunswick, there have been highways, though not all were created equal.
n 2015, the provincial government closed the neglected Jemseg Bridge, leaving a large section of the former Trans-Canada Highway still standing — abandoned and inaccessible. Part of a so-called “modern highway,” the route has decayed past the point of use just a few decades after it was built. But underneath it runs another highway, thousands of years old, and still in working condition.
The Jemseg River, along with hundreds of other rivers, creeks, and streams make up the highways used for centuries by First Nations communities for trade and travel using birch-bark canoes. Some of these routes are well-recognized today, their winding routes shared though the oral history of several First Nation communities. Others were thoroughly recorded by famed New Brunswick cartographer and historian William Francis Ganong.
Some are less known, and some may be lost to history, but researchers are working to map those possible routes using a combination of computer software and linguistics study.
Read the full story at CBC. ca.
Leah Hopkins and Elizabeth Perry
Saturday, March 3, 1 p.m., Great Falls Discovery Center
2 Ave. A, Turners Falls, MA
Join Leah Hopkins (Narragansett/Niantic) and Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) as they demonstrate and teach about the various traditional Native cooking methods of the Coastal Northeast. Leah and Elizabeth will share the recipes and cooking techniques of their families as well as the nutritional content of traditional foods. They will describe their cultural perspectives on these dishes and speak to the historical influence that Northeastern Native food has had on modern cuisine. This program will have a heavy focus on the tradition of maple sugaring as an important and much-celebrated gift of the early spring.
Leah explains, “We tend to have our own community celebrations and feasts on the full moons……..so March 3 would be the best date, as this is the day after our Maple Sugaring Moon celebrations, and Elizabeth and I do a lot of interesting programming with regards to maple sugaring…. and a cooking demonstration using maple as a staple ingredient.” This will be an indoor event with the cooking on a hotplate instead of an open fire. Due to liability issues, members of the public are not permitted to taste the food.
Leah Hopkins is known as a culture bearer, educator, traditional artist, and performer strongly rooted in her traditions passed down through her parents, grandparents and extended family, resulting in a strong passion for educating Native peoples and facilitating programs to increase cultural competency.
Elizabeth James-Perry is an enrolled member of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe on the island of Noepe (Martha’s Vineyard). Her fine art work focuses on Northeastern Woodlands Algonquian artistic expressions: Wampum carving, weaving, and natural dyeing. As a member of a Nation that has long lived on and harvested the sea, Elizabeth’s is a perspective that combines art and an appreciation for Native storytelling and traditional environmental knowledge in her ways of relating to coastal North Atlantic life.
This event is co-sponsored by the Nolumbeka Project, DCR, and Jaime and Senani Babson.
This weekend’s Longhouse Elders Gathering, also known as Midwinter Celebrations, brought Indigenous and non-Indigenous people together to learn about traditional Wabanaki culture.
The ceremony was held at St. Thomas University [Fredericton, New Brunswick] from Feb. 9 to 11.
Typically in Indigenous culture, the midwinter gathering lasts for a 10-day period and is an opportunity for elders to pass along traditional knowledge and cultural teachings to younger generations.
Miigam’agan, St. Thomas University’s elder in residence, said the ceremony is meant to be a time of reflection.
Read the full accounting by Sarah Petz at CBC News.
Contemporary Abenaki artists and tribal members talk about the meaning of garments, accessories, and regalia in their own lives and in the expression of community and tribal identity. Some of the topics will include: The Indian Arts and Crafts Law of 1990; art informed by tradition and what it means to be a Native American artist in the 21st century; honoring the past through art, and how artists walk the Red Road recognizing our ancestors. The panel will include [Elnu Abenaki] S8gm8 (Chief) Roger Longtoe Sheehan and Willow Greene, moderated by Vera Longtoe Sheehan.
This program was created by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association in partnership with Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Flynn Center for the Arts, supported in part by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council. Find out more about the event and panel at http://brookslibraryvt.org or (802) 254-5290.
Wednesday, November 8 at 7 PM – 9 PM
Brooks Memorial Library
224 Main St, Brattleboro, Vermont 02645
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.
Vandals are destroying ancient indigenous pictographs throughout Canada at an alarming rate and activists are trying to call attention to the desecration and its consequences.
As of late July vandals had defaced, and in some cases destroyed, indigenous pictographs in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia and Montreal in the last six years including some recent dramatic incidents.
“We are talking about indigenous heritage, oral traditions, cultural memory,” [Zawadzska] told CBC. “The sites are associated with sacred places, traditional territories, and traditional knowledge. They are living sites.”
Read the article in Indian Country Today.