Tag Archives: Abenaki

Champlain Maritime Museum Native American Encampment


By on

0 Comments

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will be hosting a Native American Encampment Weekend this weekend, June 25 & 26, that is expected to give visitors a Native American perspective on life – past, present, and future – in the Champlain Valley and across Vermont.

Members of the Elnu and Missisquoi Abenaki tribes, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk and Koasek Traditional Band of the Koas Abenaki Nation will gather will gather at Lake Champlain Maritime Museum for the annual celebration of the region’s Native American Heritage. Continue reading

VT: Native American Panel To Hold Meetings


By on

1 Comment

The group that will establish a process for state recognition of Native American tribes in Vermont is holding a series of public forums around the state.

The Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs will hold the first meeting at the Goodrich Memorial Library on Main Street in Newport on Tuesday, November 16 according to Giovanna Peebles, State Historic Preservation Officer and director of the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation. Continue reading

Native Encampment at Champlain Maritime Museum


By on

0 Comments

There will be a Native American Encampment event on Saturday and Sunday, June 19-20, 2010, 10am-5pm daily at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Rd, Vergennes, VT.

Dressed in clothing of earlier times, members of El-nu and Missisquoi Abenaki portray their ancestors and share traditional life skills, tools, clothing, personal adornments, and weapons used by Native Americans in the Champlain Valley through the centuries. Event includes traditional songs, cooking and camp skills, wampum readings, Native American weapons and armor, film showings and much more. Participating craftspeople combine archaeological evidence with personal expression to create beautiful and utilitarian objects. Continue reading

Prominent Abenaki Opposes VT Tribe Recognitions


By on

5 Comments

Denise Watso, a descendant of the legendary Abenaki Chief Louis Watso who lived in Lake George Village for a time and figures prominently in Native American life there in the 19th century, has come out in opposition to Vermont state recognition several Abenaki bands and tribes. In March a recognition bill [pdf] made it out of the Vermont Senate’s Committee on Economic Development, Housing and General Affairs. Continue reading

Candidate Forum For Historic Abenaki Election


By on

0 Comments

Denise Watso, a descendant of the legendary Abenaki Chief Louis Watso who lived in Lake George Village for a time and figures prominently in Native American life there in the 19th century, sent the following press release about an upcoming candidate forum in Albany tomorrow, October 24th.

This is a significant event in the history of the Abenaki Nation. It was only within this decade that the substantial membership of the Odanak Abenaki First Nation living in the Albany metro area have been able to vote for their chief and council members. This is the first election in which off-reserve Abenaki are able to run for office as well as vote.

Here is the press release:

The Capitol District will host one of three forums for Abenaki voters to hear directly from candidates for Chief and Council of the Odanak Abenaki First Nation. The forum will be held from 12-4 PM, Saturday, October 24 at the German-American Club, 32 Cherry Street, Albany, NY 12205. This is an exciting time in the history of the Abenaki people – all Abenaki enrolled at Odanak are invited and encouraged to attend with their families.

Two additional forums will be held during the election season at Sudbury, Ontario, and on-reserve at Odanak. Elections will be held Saturday, November 28, 2009, although voters may also cast their ballots by mail.

The Abenaki are the aboriginal people associated with homelands in much of northern New England and adjacent parts of New York, Massachusetts and Quebec, as well as with the Odanak (Saint Francis) and Wôlinak (Becancour) reserves in central Quebec (and historically with the Penobscot Nation in Maine, too). Abenaki derives from Wabanaki (“people from where the sun rises,” “people of the east,” or “people of the dawn”), and this latter term is often used in a general sense to refer collectively to the Mi’kmaq, Malecite, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Abenaki peoples.

While many Abenaki have been thought of as “Saint Francis Indians,” living at Odanak, in truth many Abenaki families have maintained part-time or full-time residence within their homelands south of the border continuously since the American Revolution. In fact, the first election held by the Odanak First Nation under the Indian Act, the legislation regulating aboriginal affairs in Canada, occurred January 18, 1876, after many Abenaki (and their Indian Agent) complained that the three chiefs serving the community at the time – Louis Watso, Solomon Benedict and Jean Hannis – were away from the reserve so often that two additional chiefs were required to ensure adequate representation. (The aged chief Louis Watso was actually living at Lake George, where a good deal of his family resided.) Samuel Watso and Lazare Wawanolett were chosen from a field of six candidates, and elections for office have been held at regular intervals ever since.

Abenaki history on the upper Hudson dates to at least the late 17th century when many ancestors of the modern Abenaki people lived at Schaghticoke, near the mouth of the Hoosic River. Continuing Abenaki presence in New York State is attested to by such notable 19th century Adirondack Abenaki as Sabael Benedict, Mitchell Sabattis, and the late 19th/early 20th century Indian Encampments at Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Lake Luzerne were primarily occupied by Abenaki. Despite a lack of recognition by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, these Abenaki families have persisted within and beyond their homelands: today, the Albany metro region is a major Abenaki population center. Other significant concentrations of Abenaki people are located in Waterbury, CT; Newport, VT; and Sudbury, Ontario.

This will be the second time that a formal forum for candidates for Chief and Council has been held in Albany. Approximately 60 people attended a similar event two years ago, and an even higher turn-out is expected this weekend. Off-reserve Abenaki were not allowed to vote in Odanak’s election until after the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Corbiere ruling struck down the voter residency requirement of Canada’s Indian Act.

The importance of the off-reserve vote has been increasing with each passing election. This election, however, may bring about even greater change as it will be the first time since the Indian Act was enacted that off-reserve Abenaki will be eligible to accept a nomination for office (per the 2007 Federal Court of Appeals’ Esquega decision). The potential impact of this development places an even greater spotlight on the role of off-reserve voters in the civic affairs of the Abenaki Nation.

It is also a point of pride for many Abenaki who think of both Odanak and the Albany area as home. Susan Marshall, a lifelong resident of Albany and Rensselaer, is looking forward to attending the candidate’s forum and voting for her first time. “I just wish my mom (Mary Jane Nagazoa) was here to see this, knowing how proud she would be.”

History and Culture: Background For Abenaki Day


By on

1 Comment

As part of the lead-up to Abenaki Day at the Adirondack Museum, Christopher Roy (a cultural anthropologist engaged in research related to historically known Abenaki people) penned a few short articles with Abenaki family historian David Benedict may be if interest to New York History readers.

Roy is a 1995 graduate of the University of Vermont. He is completing a PhD program in the Department of Anthropology at Princeton University. Of particular interest to his research are the histories of residence off reserve, questions of law and belonging, as well as the work of family historians in understanding Abenaki pasts, presents, and futures.

The first one, focusing on Dan Emmett and a canoe he built which is in the collections of the museum, has been posted by the Adirondack Museum http://www.adkmuseum.org/about_us/adirondack_journal/?id=156. Another of these short articles was published in the News Enterprise of North Creek [link]. This one focused on John Mitchell, an Abenaki man who lived most of his life at Indian Lake.

The Adirondack Museum has posted a few of them on their Adirondack Journal:

Mitchell Sabattis, Abenaki Farmer, 1855

Maude (Benedict) Nagazoa, Proud Adirondack Abenaki

On Monday, July 20, 2009 Roy will discuss aspects of his research in a program entitled “Searching for Sabattis, and Other Tales of Adirondack Abenaki Adventure ” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York. Part of the museum’s popular Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members.

Photo: Mitchell Sabattis (1823 – 1906). Collection of the Adirondack Museum.

Abenaki Day at The Adirondack Museum


By on

1 Comment

Abenaki is a generic term for the Native American Indian peoples of northern New England, southeastern Canada, and the Maritimes. Members of the Abenaki Watso family will share the traditions, culture, and heritage of their ancestors at an upcoming event at the Adirondack Museum this Saturday, July 11, 2009. These Native Peoples are also known as Wabanaki (Eastern Abenaki – Maine and the Canadian Maritimes) or Wôbanakiak (Western Abenaki – New Hampshire, Vermont, and southeastern Canada). In the Native language Wôbanakiak translates roughly to mean “People of the Dawn.”

A majority of the Watso family who will demonstrate or present at the Adirondack Museum are from the Odanak reserve in the province of Quebec. The Abenaki Nation at Odanak, historically called the St. Francis, is now called the Odanak Band by the Canadian government.

“Abenaki Day” will feature demonstrations of traditional skills from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The demonstrations will include: sweet grass and black ash basket making by Barbara Ann Watso; bead work with Priscilla Watso; pounded black ash splint making with John Watso and Martin Gill; and traditional wood carving by Denise Watso.

Rejean Obomsawin will share traditional Abenaki legends that have been passed down by the elders at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Rejean is a singer, drummer, and guide at the Musee des Abenaki at Odanak.

Jacques T. Watso will offer traditional Abenaki singing and drumming at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Cultural anthropologist Christopher Roy will present a program entitled “Abenaki History in the Adirondacks and in the Adirondack Museum” at 12:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Drawing on the museum’s Abenaki collections, Roy will share the findings of his research on the history and contemporary lives of Abenaki people in the Adirondacks and throughout the Northeast.

Christopher Roy is completing a PhD program at Princeton. Of particular interest to his research are the histories of residence off-reserve, questions of law and belonging, as well as the work of family historians in understanding Abenaki pasts, presents, and futures.

The Watso family has strong ties to the Adirondack region. Their ancestors include Sabael Benedict and his son Elijah, Abenaki men familiar to early settlers and explorers of the region, and Louis Watso an Abenaki man well known in the southern Adirondacks in the latter half of the 19th century.

Descendants Sabael Benedict and Louis Watso lived throughout the region, some as full-time residents and others moving back and forth between villages like Lake George and Saratoga Springs and Odanak, an Abenaki village on the lower St. Francis River in Quebec.

This branch of the Watso family also descends from John and Mary Ann Tahamont, basket makers who spent many summers at Saranac Lake around the turn of the last century.

Photo: Chief Richard O’Bomsawin and Councillor Jacques Watso