Abenaki heritage event this weekend
FERRISBURGH — Join the Abenaki community on June 23 and 24 at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for a weekend of family fun and cultural sharing that is deeply rooted in local Native American heritage.
Organized by the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association with members of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk, Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation, Missisquoi Abenaki Tribe and guest artists, the event is designed to give visitors an Indigenous perspective on life in the Champlain Valley both past and present.
Activities include drumming, storytelling, craft and cooking demonstrations, an Arts Marketplace, and presentations by guest artists including Black Hawk Singers Drum Group, and Jesse Bruchac telling stories in Abenaki and English, accompanied by flute and drum.
On Saturday, Abenaki scholar Frederick M. Wiseman introduces his new book “Seven Sisters: Wabanaki Seeds and Food Systems” at an afternoon book signing. On Sunday, Wiseman discusses new directions in the consideration of Indigenous art by collectors, investors, museums and galleries, in “Who Owns the Past?”
The event opens with an Abenaki Greeting Song each day. Enjoy traditional storytelling by Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan and music from the Nulhegan Abenaki Drum Group or join in a Round Dance. Activities for the kids are offered all weekend: making a bracelet of glass wampum beads, identifying animal tracks, and fire making with flint and steel. Sign up for a special workshop on making a gourd rattle (register as you arrive, first-come, first-served).
Don’t miss the storytelling and book signing with Brian Chevenert, author of “Azban’s Great Journey,” and “Abenaki Animals,” co-authored with Francine Poitras Jones.
The Native Arts Marketplace provides opportunities to browse for traditional and contemporary artwork, jewelry, and regalia and meet some of the artists featured in the special exhibition “Contact & Continuity.” The exhibition features garments and regalia by contemporary Abenaki artists together with cherished photographs of earlier times. A gallery talk with the curators and artists will provide insights into how Native identity finds expression in different ways with each generation.
Chief Shirly Hook and Doug Bent of the Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation will be doing a fire pit cooking demonstration. They will begin digging the fire pit on Friday and the turkey and beans will be cooking all day on Saturday. Chief Hook, an avid gardener who prepares foods that she grows herself, will have a display table with photos and seeds from the tribal garden. Her young gardening apprentices will be selling some of the plants that they have grown under her guidance. Proceeds of the sales will benefit Koasek youth group and children’s activities at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend.
Throughout the weekend, take the opportunity to talk with the Native Interpreters about the history and culture of the Champlain Valley’s first navigators. Then walk over to the Native American Arts Marketplace and watch demonstrations of traditional Abenaki art forms such as quillwork, wampum, twined bags and ash basketry.
On-site lunch will be available from noon-2 p.m.; beverages, ice cream and snacks are available all day at the Museum Store; or bring a picnic for your family and spread a blanket on the green where you can watch and listen.
The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is located at 4472 Basin Harbor Road, (adjacent to historic Basin Harbor Club) in Ferrisburgh. Admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for youth 6-17, and free for children five and under. Active service members and their families are free, Veterans $7.
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