Wabanaki Tribes Growing Heirloom Seeds for Heritage & Health

wabanaki ancestral squash

Maine’s Passamaquoddy people are once again growing and eating ancestral crops and saving the often rare seeds. These simple yet significant acts are tied to new research that sheds light on the sophisticated agriculture and accompanying plant-centric diet of the early Wabanaki people of northeastern North America, who lived and farmed in what we call Maine for 12,000 years before the European migration and colonization…

Planting these heirloom seeds is part of a wider effort by the Passamaquoddy to increase the amount of food produced on tribal land.  All the ancestral seeds have been linked to tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy, which includes the Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Maliseet, Micmac and Abenaki.

In 2014, Koasek Abenakis, the Seeds of Renewal Program and retired Johnson State College humanities professor Frederick M. Wiseman, who is Abenaki, gave these ancestral seeds to the Passamaquoddy tribe at Motahkokmikuk. The following spring, the seeds returned to Passamaquoddy soil and flourished.

Read the full article in the Press Herald here.

 

Red Paint, Red Ochre

iron seep 1 rt 30 brattleboro 2019

iron seep 2 rt 30 brattleboro 2019

iron seep 3 rt 30 brattleboro 2019

Iron-oxidizing bacteria feed on dissolved ferrous solutions in groundwater at the point where it emerges back into the atmosphere. There it may form deposits of ferrous oxide which can be collected and converted into yellow or red ochre pigments. This is also a historical source of what is known as bog iron.

These pigments are an important resource for many indigenous cultures, including the Wabanakiak. Ochre is a strong, persistent pigment that can last for thousands of years and has many practical and ceremonial uses. At times, the trickling iron-rich water will create intricate, organic cell-like patterns on rock or soil as the molecules aggregate. Sometimes it’s just a rainbow shimmer on the water surface.

Wabanaki Basketmakers: Harvesting Sweetgrass Can Be Sustainable

wabanaki maine sweetgrass

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.

Mapping the Wabanaki Canoe Routes of Yesteryear

wabanaki-mapping

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.

Maple Traditions in Northeastern Native Foods: at the Discovery Center

native maple squirrel tradition

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.

Traditional Elders’ Gathering Highlights Indigenous Culture

stthomas-nb-longhouse-elders-gathering

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.

Brooks Library (Wantastegok): Wearing Our History – Abenaki Artists Panel Discussion

Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Aln8bak Wearing Our Heritage

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