Documentary Examines Forced Separation of Native American Families

anna townsend testimony residential school

The film’s storyline is fragmentary, its focal point like a crack in a wall.

A young girl, chin tipped up to the microphone, fingers toying with a bead necklace, attempts to tell a room full of congressmen about the abuse her brother endured, but she chokes on an enormous sob and can’t go on. In a black-and-white photo of American Indian children at a boarding school, identical in their close-cropped and bobbed haircuts and plain clothing, the number of children grows larger and larger as the camera zooms out, and then, a moment later, the image becomes just one of many pinpoints on a map of the United States. A woman tells of having her mouth washed out with soap for speaking Penobscot and abruptly stops. The screen goes black.

Throughout the new documentary Dawnland, screening Oct. 19 in Dartmouth College’s Loew Auditorium, a sense of incompleteness, of halted revelations and impenetrable grief, pervades. As it explores a dark and largely overlooked aspect of American life, the film opens just a tiny fissure, grants only the smallest suggestion of healing.

It is, nevertheless, a start.

Read the full article by Sarah Earle in the Valley News.

Advertisements

‘One by One, I Kept Meeting People’: Hartford, VT Celebrates Indigenous Culture

The town held its eighth-annual Abenaki and Indigenous Peoples Honoring Day on Saturday at Lyman Point Park, where an Abenaki canoeing village stood into the 18th century.

The day began early for Nate Pero. By the announced 11 a.m. start time, he had already grilled and cut 16 pounds of bison and moved on to cooking dozens of ears of corn. In years past, Pero got his meat from Vermont game wardens, sometimes coming away with a moose or bear that had been killed by a car or put down. “They haven’t given us any turkey yet,” he said. “I’d cook turkey.”

Pero is chief of the Koasek, an Abenaki band of some 300 members, most of whom live in Windsor and Orange Counties.

Read the full article by Gabe Brizon-Trezise in the Valley News.

Mascoma Bank to Drop Native American Logo

Mascoma-Bank-mural

Centuries after he is believed to have lived and more than 50 years after he was adopted as the symbol of Mascoma Bank, Chief Mascommah will disappear from the Upper Valley. The Lebanon mutual bank will no longer use as its logo an image that depicts the chief of the Squakheag Native American tribe spearfishing from a canoe.

The change accompanies an across-the-board program to update Mascoma Bank’s marketing materials that will encompass a newly designed abstract logo and color scheme. The aim is to position the bank as a certified “B Corporation” emphasizing Mascoma’s social responsibility and commitment to the community.

A silhouette of Chief Mascommah, whose Squakheag tribe was part of the Abenaki nation, has been Mascoma Bank’s logo since the 1960s.

Read the full article by John Lippman in the VTDigger, picked up from the Valley News.

More from Mascoma Bank on their name origins here.

Note: I would take a good deal of this background with a grain of salt.

Hartford Historical Society to Honor Abenaki Tribe

historic french depiction abenaki couple

After a year’s hiatus, Abenaki and Indigenous Peoples Day is returning to White River Junction. The celebration, hosted by the Hartford Historical Society, aims to honor Vermont’s earliest known residents who lived in the area well before Vermont, or the United States for that matter, was ever thought of. It will take place on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Lyman Point Park in White River Junction. Admission is free.

Among the attendees will be Jeanne Brink, whom Martha Knapp, director of the Hartford Historical Society Museum, described as “a respected elder,” of the Abenaki tribe. Brink also teaches the Abenaki language. “The language is really getting big now that the Abenaki are starting to come out and get recognized,” Knapp said. Brink also teaches basket-making, and three of her students, Emily, Megan and Valerie Boles, will be there with her to demonstrate their skills.

Read the full story by Liz Sauchelli in the Valley News.

Hanover Protesters Gather in Solidarity Against Dakota Access Pipeline

donna-moody-hanover-protest-nodapl

Polimana Joshevama, 19, was one of about 75 people standing in the light rain on the Dartmouth Green, listening to songs and speeches about the ongoing battle between the Standing Rock Sioux and the company building the $3.8 billion Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota. The event, as well as a smaller action taken outside Bank of America on Hanover’s Main Street earlier in the day, were part of a nationwide “show of solidarity” with Sioux protesters, and also provided an opportunity for left-leaning activists to talk about how Donald Trump’s presidency might affect their future political actions.

Hartford resident Donna Moody, a tribal elder in the Abenaki Nation and Director of the Winter Center for Indigenous Traditions, was one of a handful of speakers. “The very real risk of increased environmental degradation now exists when faced with a president elect and majority political party that deny the existence of global warming, that deny the existence of dangers of fracking, drilling and pipeline leaks,” she told the crowd. “That risk becomes more of a reality when those who make public policy support and invest in pursuing the mining, selling and transportation of fossil fuels.”

Read the full story in the Valley News. Photo by Valley News.