Presenting Abenaki Culture in the Classroom Workshop

vermont abenaki artists association cultural education

Members of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association serve as faculty for this one-day professional development seminar at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM), designed to provide teachers and homeschool educators with new resources and techniques to help elementary students learn about the Abenaki tribe. This program is supported by a grant from the Vermont Humanities Council.

Abenaki culture and history that spans 11,000 years in the Champlain Valley will be introduced by culture bearers with a deep understanding of how this vibrant regional culture continues into the 21st century. Some of the topics include: history and stereotypes; new resources being developed for use in classrooms; age-appropriate activities; and learning how you can better support Abenaki and other Native students while presenting American history. The program includes a gallery talk and tour of the traveling exhibition Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage that explores Abenaki identity and continuity through the lens of the clothing we make and wear to express our identity.

When: Wednesday, August 2, 2017 from 9:30 am – 4 pm
Where: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Rd., Vergennes, VT
Cost: $15 registration fee includes lunch and program materials.

Instructors:

Melody Walker Brook is an Adjunct Professor at Champlain College and has taught The Abenakis and Their Neighbors and Abenaki Spirituality at Johnson State College. She serves on the Vermont Commission of Native American Affairs and is a traditional beadworker and finger weaver.

Liz Charlebois, Abenaki culture bearer, is a powwow dancer, traditional bead worker, ash basket maker, and bitten birch bark artist. She cultivates a traditional garden and has organized a seed bank of heirloom seeds grown by the Indigenous people of the Northeast. Liz has served on the New Hampshire Commission of Native American Affairs and as Education Specialist at the Mt. Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner, NH.

Lina Longtoe is certified Project WILD instructor for the Growing Up WILD, Aquatic WILD and Project WILD K – 12 programs, which are sponsored by the EPA, US Fish and Wildlife, and the National Wildlife Federation. Her area of study is environmental science with a concentration in sustainability. She is Tribal Documentarian for the Elnu Abenaki Tribe and maintains a YouTube channel to help preserve Abenaki culture.

Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association, has a background in Museum Studies and Native American Studies. She has been designing and implementing educational programs with museums, schools and historic sites for over twenty-five years. Her art is focused on traditional clothing and twined woven plant fiber bags.

For more information, please contact:
Vera Longtoe Sheehan, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association vera.sheehan@abenakiart.org

Annual Abenaki Heritage Weekend at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

Next weekend, June 24 &25, 2017, at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes, Vermont. This is a wonderful, friendly, and positive gathering. A schedule of the planned activities is below:

abenaki heritage weekend schedule

Art Review of Aln8bak: Wearing Our Heritage, at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery

vera longtoe sheehan twined textiles

In May 2012, then Vermont governor Peter Shumlin signed into law the state recognition of four of Vermont’s Abenaki tribes: the Elnu, Nulhegan, Koasek and Missisquoi. The victory had more than symbolic significance: Formal recognition meant that many of Vermont’s contemporary indigenous artists could begin legally to label their work as “American Indian.” According to Elnu Abenaki member Vera Longtoe Sheehan, access to this designation has opened many new doors — including, at least indirectly, doors to galleries.

Such fraught politics of visibility and authenticity are very much at the heart of “Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage,” now on view at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery in Burlington. The show offers a chronological survey of Abenaki fashion and adornment, from the pre-Champlain era to the present day, accompanied by both modern and historical photographs.

There’s a twist, though: Almost all of the objects on view are contemporary, regardless of the era they were created to represent. While reproductions are often considered to be lesser facsimiles, in this case, the absence of “traditional” artifacts speaks to the 20-plus artists’ ongoing commitment to making their history and heritage come alive.

Read the full article by Rachel Elizabeth Jones in Seven Days.

Aln8bak: Wearing Our Heritage, at the Flynn Center

alnobak wearing our heritage flynn

A new exhibit at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery highlights the wearable art of the Abenaki population in and around Vermont.

“Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage” opened Saturday with a discussion by co-curators Vera Longtoe Sheehan of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Eloise Beil of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. The exhibit will be on display through June 17.

Read the full article in the Burlington Free Press.

VPR also picked up the story of the exhibit. See their coverage here.

abenaki-heritage-examples

Decolonizing Native American Art: The Indigenous Resistance

vera longtoe sheehan decolonizing native american art

On Friday, Feb. 24, the Indigenous Peoples Alliance, founded by senior Lina Longtoe, hosted Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Vera Longtoe-Sheehan to talk to the community about the Decolonization of Native American Art.

Longtoe-Sheehan presented students with some of the experiences and realities she and so many other Native American artists have endured, including the issue of making and selling authentic Native American art.

Due in large part to the Indian Arts and Craft Act of 1990, indigenous communities like the Abenaki tribe, to which both Longtoe and Longtoe-Sheehan belong, couldn’t legally sell their art as authentic Native American works for decades.
From the separation of families by arbitrary lines to a state-wide eugenics program, this was just one in a long succession of abuses the two later explained. Through it all, the Abenaki people kept their pride. “We never surrendered, we never gave up, we did, however, have to hide in plain sight,” Sheehan-Longtoe said.

Read the full story by Angelique Herring in The Current Online, the official student newspaper at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL. Photo above by Angelique Herring also.