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In the 1980s, after centuries of silence about indigenous communities in Vermont, archaeologists began to publish information on the extensive Vermont archaeological record, and ethnohistorians began publishing the vast amount of primary documentary information languishing in archives in the United States, Canada and Europe. Much of the research produced a chronicle of conflict and diplomacy prior to 1790, rather than the understanding of the culture itself. About the same time, Native communities in Northern Vermont began reasserting their Indigenous identity. From 1972 to 2009 an Abenaki renaissance began that asserted there was much of value in Indigenous Vermont, and the long process for state recognition began, including the gathering of oral history and other forms of ethnohistoric and ethnographic information previously ignored. This process proved that there is an unbroken Indigenous presence in Vermont and ended with Vermont State Recognition of four Vermont Indigenous Bands (Elnu, Koasek, Missisquoi and Nulhegan) in 2011/2012. At the same time, the process uncovered a mass of revolutionary new Vermont data, focused on the history and culture, during the 180-year gap since statehood. As a result, the Haven Project, a multimedia database, including documents, imagery, video and audio, was created to archive, organize, analyze, and interpret this new information for the indigenous community. Recently, Haven has decided to partner with selected museums and educational institutions in Vermont and New Hampshire to make this information available to educators and other interpreters of the Indigenous experience.
This three credit graduate level course is based upon the Haven database and associated materials such as publications, posters and video, designed to acquaint Vermont K-12 Teachers, museum professionals and even Health/ Human Services specialists with the revolutionary new information concerning Vermont's Indigenous People. These data were revealed by research for the 2009 Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration, and the 2010-2012 Vermont State Recognition and supersede old Indigenous stereotypes such as "Post-1790 Empty Vermont," or Hiding in Plain Sight," that have heretofore forced interpreters of the Native Vermont experience to look to Maine or Canada for "real" Abenaki culture. We will briefly focus on the Contact Period, 1550-1650 as baseline, and then delve into the Late Historical Period, 1790-1970 which is the Foundation of Haven. The data for the intervening, so-called "Colonial" period is little changed from the work of pioneering researchers such as Colin Calloway, but will be examined as it relates to the new data. Lecture, discussion and reading topics include Indigenous political, cultural and economic geography, ecology, socio-political structure, technology and world view. Haven does not focus on the traditional history of armed conflict and "great men." As detailed below in the topical listing, the first part of the course will examine the Early Contact Period, the necessary "baseline" for understanding the unique cultural, ecological and spiritual characteristics that either have persisted until today, or form the basis of an ongoing cultural renaissance. In this section of the course we will rely on primary and secondary source materials specific to the far northeast Wabanaki people (the Abenakis and their cultural siblings) that formed the basis of the cultural reconstructions for the Vermont Lake Champlain Quadricentennial.. The main portion of the course content will focus on the Vermont Abenaki experience during the 1790-1970 period when academia had "written off" the Abenakis, finding little or nothing of importance or value in the 19th and 20th century indigenous record. We will provide readings, demonstrations and discuss in detail the new findings regarding agriculture, plant use, hunting and fishing, social organization and land tenure, material culture and arts, performance and spirituality. In this we endeavor, we have heretofore unpublished oral history, amazing new artifacts and imagery, as well as new written documents to rely on. The last part of the course will examine the 1970-today Abenaki Renaissance; how it evolved, why it is controversial, and its future political and cultural prospects. We will have a field trip to Missisquoi, to see its historical sites and what is "going on" there and meet with tribal leaders to get their sense of where the community is going.
Over the last 25 years, I have perfected a system by which students are offered an opportunity to give back to the local and regional Indigenous communities that have shared this heretofore internal information. Students are in need of this information and the associated resources, and the originating communities are in need of support in their ongoing political, cultural and spiritual revitalization. It is important in traditional societies to keep a balance with both sides offering something to each other. In this case information and resources will be exchanged. Often without sufficient resources to make regalia, dance accessories, musical instruments and other necessary components for cultural revitalization, community organizations and leaders have relied on my