In 2011 and 2012, the state of Vermont officially recognized four Abenaki tribes: Elnu, Nulhegan, Koasek and Missisquoi.
“History books, museums, and schools in New England often present Native culture as if the Abenaki disappeared in the 18th century,” says Vera Longtoe Sheehan, director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. “After we received Vermont state recognition the Abenaki people created the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association as a forum to showcase our artists and our vibrant culture. Now we are trying to bridge the gap between the Native and Non-Native communities through the “Wearing Our Heritage” project. Our goals are to reclaim our place in New England history, to make connections between our shared past and the present, and for our art to be accepted on the same terms as art from other cultures of the world.”
Although there is little mention of the Abenaki in 19th century history books, Abenaki people continued to live in their homelands, and maintain strong oral histories and traditions from earlier times. In the latter half of the twentieth century, Abenaki people undertook a systematic cultural revitalization that involves a return to traditional lifeways and skills. Ironically, for many years they were not recognized by federal or state government because they had never entered into a treaty that surrendered their territory to the United States.
Read this comprehensive article by Vera Longtoe Sheehan and Eloise Beil, for the Burlington Free Press.
Hugh Akagi thought about the future of the Wabanaki Confederacy while the partial eclipse was happening Monday afternoon.
The chief of the Passamaquoddy people in Canada had travelled from his home in St. Andrews, N.B. to Kejimkujik National Park near Maitland Bridge, N.S., to take part in the Wabanaki Confederacy’s four-day annual summer gathering.
Akagi and 40 other Indigenous people gathered at the national park Monday afternoon to take part in a traditional ceremony to light the sacred fire to start the confederacy’s event. They all watched as several people spent nearly an hour trying to light the fire with a single flint during the partial eclipse.
“I’m thinking the fire needs to come to life, the confederacy needs to come back to life,” Akagi explained following the ceremony.
“The confederacy has gone through some pretty dark years, pretty rough times as every individual tribe, every Native person has,” he said.
“How do we rekindle that fire, how to bring it to life? How do we bring back the songs?” he asked.
Read the full story from kukukwes.com.
Elnu Tribe of Abenaki has confirmed its support for the Mi’maki community at Sipekne’katik on the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, as they stand in solidarity against the Alton Gas salt cavern storage project. A letter has been sent to the Grandmothers expressing unity and understanding, and upholding the shared responsibilities of the Wabanakiak in their homelands, N’dakinna.
See this post for more background.
Whether it’s by canoe, on foot or in his pickup truck, Butch Phillips always returns to The Pines park each year for a special remembrance. Phillips, 76, is a member of the Penobscot Nation whose ancestors were killed in an Aug. 22, 1724 massacre near the confluence of the Sandy and Kennebec rivers when British soldiers attacked an Abenaki Indian village in a fight to take over the land.
The surviving Abenaki fled, many of them going to live with the Penobscot or the Odanak Indians, and today that is how some of their descendants choose to return to the area where they were killed. For about the last 20 years, members of the Wabanaki Confederacy, an alliance of five Native American nations including the Abenaki and the Penobscot, have returned to the site at The Pines to honor and remember their ancestors.
Story at the Portland Press Herald.
If nothing else, Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko wants people who visit the Abbe Museum to leave with one piece of knowledge firmly planted forever in their brain: Native people still live in Maine.
“It’s amazing how many of our visitors don’t realize that,” the museum director said. “They’re always surprised.”
Read about how the Abbe Museum is telling its story in a new way. (via Portland Press-Herald)
Full story at the Mount Desert Islander…
The Abbe Museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to telling the story of the Wabanaki. Over 10,000 Native people currently live in Maine, and most are Wabanaki, a confederacy of nations that today consists of the four federally recognized tribes in Maine: Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, Micmac and Maliseet. In addition, the Wabanaki includes several bands of the Abenaki tribe, located primarily in New Hampshire, Vermont and Quebec.
“With a mission to inspire new learning about the Wabanaki Nations with every visit, the Museum is trying to do more than just be a cultural and historical institution, which prompted a new vision: The Abbe Museum will reflect and realize the values of decolonization in all of its practices, working with the Wabanaki Nations to share their stories, history, and culture with a broader audience.”
High school students from Skowhegan, Upper Kennebec Valley and Carrabec high schools got to ‘know’ their Indian neighbors this past Thursday (Nov. 12, 2015). John Bear Mitchell, a member of the Penobscot tribe and associate director of the Wabanaki Center at the University of Maine, used storytelling and humor Thursday to teach high school students about his people and their culture, history and identity in the modern world.
Read the article at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel.
For the record, this historic event was held a month and a half ago at the Shelburne Museum. This is the Burlington Free Press’s coverage.
“We’re not extinct. We’re not dead,” [Chief Don] Stevens said. “Abenaki people have always been here, they continue to always be here, and we are very involved with the fabric of Vermont and also the outside of the world.”
Leading off this morning, the Abenaki bands of Vermont are hosting a gathering of the Wabanaki Confederacy, in this state for the first time in 200 years. Vermont Public Radio’s Vermont Edition talks with Chief Don Stevens of the Nulhegan Band of Coosuk-Abenaki and Professor Fred Wiseman about this momentous and forward-looking event. The Conference will be held at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont beginning today, August 19, 2015 through Saturday August 22, 2015; the public is invited to join the celebration all day on Saturday. A Facebook Event page can be found here.