Eva McKend of Burlington’s WCAX Channel 3 News spoke with Vermont State Archaeologist Jess Robinson about the significance of petroglyph sites in Vermont, and specifically the fledgling effort to conserve those at Wantestegok – the West River in Brattleboro. Click on the first link for the video interview.
A group has hopes of purchasing land near petroglyphs under the Connecticut River (correction: Wantastekw/West River) with the goal of preventing future development on land it sees as culturally meaningful.
“This is all part of the Abenaki people trying to re-establish themselves… to raise awareness and reinforce the idea that these are not relics of the past,” said Rich Holschuh, a member of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs from Brattleboro.
“These are significant to people who are still here… people who still observe their significance and incorporate that into their lives because they are the descendants of these people.”
Abenaki people and other members of the public hope to preserve the land, keeping it open for hiking and other recreational activities. The project is also about protecting the Hogle Wildlife Sanctuary.
Another very happy day. Vermont Public Radio southern Vermont bureau reporter Howard Weiss-Tismann announced the news in a story filed last night, shortly after interviewing Elnu Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan and myself in Wantastegok/Brattleboro. Photo by Weiss-Tismann. More to follow…
I visited a reception for indigenous artist Alyssa Hinton (Tuscarora-Osage) yesterday, at the C X Silver Gallery in West Brattleboro, VT. We had a cheerful conversation about her artistic journey of discovery, first through intuition and then traditional knowledge – her focus being on her southeastern roots, but finding commonality with other native, earth-based cultures. One thing was clear through our exchange: the truth that traditional understandings are not destroyed, missing, or lost. All of this knowledge, these relationships, “ways of seeing,” are still here and still accessible to those who seek them. A Chadwick Allen quote from the exhibit program (using indigenous earthworks as its particular reference point) makes the point well:
“…like other Indigenous writing systems, they assert, earthworks and their encoded knowledge have been ‘asleep’ rather than ‘dead.’ Dormant but alive, they have waited to be awakened by descendants of their makers finally free to re-approach and even to remake them, finally freed of the psychological fetters of an internalized colonialism that has undervalued Indigenous technologies and ways of knowing. Earthworks have been waiting, they assert, for old scripts to be reactivated, for new scripts to be written and performed. A time of waiting appears near an end, near the beginning of a new cycle. That time of new beginning is now.” Chadwick Allen, University of Washington
The significance of this reality here in N’dakinna becomes more clear, and more affirming, each day.
The [Brattleboro] Selectboard unanimously voted to approve a resolution proclaiming the second Monday in October of each year be named “Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”
During Representative Town Meeting in March, the body unanimously voted to recommend the Selectboard approve the proclamation.
At the April 18 regular Selectboard meeting, Board Chair Kate O’Connor read the document — written by Town Attorney Bob Fisher with edits by Rich Holschuh — into the record.
In addition to setting the date of the day, the proclamation says the Selectboard “heeds said advice and desires to recognize the Indigenous People of Wantastegok in Sokwakik — the immediate area now known as Brattleboro, Vermont — dwelling here prior to and during the colonization begun by Christopher Columbus in the Western Hemisphere[.]”
RESOLUTION FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ DAY
WHEREAS, at the Town of Brattleboro 2017 Annual Representative Town Meeting, the Town unanimously approved a petitioned article to advise the Selectboard to proclaim the second Monday in October as Indigenous Peoples’ Day instead of Columbus Day; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Brattleboro Selectboard heeds said advice and desires to recognize the Indigenous People of Wantastegok in Sokwakik – the immediate area now known as Brattleboro, Vermont – dwelling here prior to and during the colonization begun by Christopher Columbus in the Western Hemisphere; and
WHEREAS, there is ample local evidence, including petroglyphs at the West River, demonstrating this area has been inhabited for millennia, long before Europeans began to settle along the Connecticut River and its tributaries, notably at Fort Dummer in Brattleboro in 1724; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Brattleboro recognizes that this area comprises in part the homelands of Indigenous Peoples including the Abenaki, their allies, and ancestors; and
WHEREAS, Indigenous Peoples’ Day will provide an opportunity for our community to recognize and celebrate the Indigenous Peoples of our region, in concert with similar celebrations elsewhere; and
WHEREAS, the Town of Brattleboro encourages schools, other educational institutions, businesses, and other institutions to recognize and celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day,
NOW, THEREFORE, the Brattleboro Selectboard hereby resolves and proclaims that the second Monday in October of each year shall be Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Town of Brattleboro.
Dated this 18th day of April, 2017.
Kate O’Connor, Chair
Brandie Starr, Vice-Chair
Tim Wessel, Clerk
Link to pdf: BrattleboroIndigenousPeoplesDayResolutionFinalText