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Abenaki to present their history at Maritime Museum

FERRISBURGH — What does it mean to be Indian in Vermont? What does it mean to be an indigenous artist? On June 25 and 26 members of Vermont’s Abenaki community gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Ferrisburgh to present their own history and heritage directly to the public.
Abenaki Heritage Weekend is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. A highlight of the event is the Native Arts Marketplace of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA), where visitors can talk to artists, watch craft demonstrations, and purchase outstanding beadwork, quillwork, jewelry, basketry, woodworking and other items.
“Indigenous artists no longer need to choose between traditional and contemporary art forms,” says Vera Longtoe Sheehan, of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, and founder of the VAAA. “Many of us practice both, and our contemporary art is informed by tradition.”
Throughout the weekend there will be songs and drumming, storytelling, cooking demonstrations, kids’ activities, and demonstrations by Abenaki artists and artisans. Drumming, dancing and singing will be led by the Nulhegan Drum. Members of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe will present storytelling, food preparation, crafts and other lifeways at an encampment in the Pine Grove. A garden of heirloom plants, including corn, squash, beans and pumpkins, planted this spring on the museum grounds, is the result of a multi-year quest by Dr. Frederick M. Wiseman to discover sources for ancient local crops and bring the precious seeds to renewed harvests.
“Always in Fashion,” an illustrated program about clothing and accessories worn by the original people of Northern New England and neighboring areas of Canada, will showcase images and original garments and accessories gathered by Wiseman for the Wobanakik Heritage Center collection. Outfits designed and created in recent years for ceremonial use and field testing will also be presented in slides, music and video.
Visitors are encouraged to participate. They may be invited to join a drumming circle, or join in a song, try their hand at stringing wampum or creating a design, or working to create designs in clay.
LCMM is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., a family-friendly 4-acre lakeside campus with daily hands-on opportunities. Lake Adventure Camps for ages 7-16 are offered June 20 through mid-August. Upcoming events include the Big ShaBang July 3, Rowing and Racing Weekend July 9-10, and Rabble in Arms Aug. 6-7.
Find out more at lcmm.org, on Facebook, and on the museum’s blog, blog.lcmm.org.

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