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Teaching the Abenaki Way (Working Title)
Course Syllabus
The Champagne Bark House, Barton, VT. ca. 1950
Course Abstract
This course, a cooperative venture between the Haven Project, an Indigenous VT organization, and the University of Vermont, is designed for professionals who are charged with interpreting the Vermont Indigenous Experience to the public. This audience includes K-12 and Higher Education teachers, museum curators and interpreters, government officials interested in understanding the ethnic diversity of the state, and health care providers interested in cultural competency. This "emerging science" course details the revolutionary corpus of information that has been uncovered by the 2009 VT Lake Champlain Quadricentennial and the 2011-2012 Vermont State Recognition Process, through lecture/discussion, readings, demonstrations, videos, and field experiences. In addition to content, the course demonstrates through service learning that a philosophy of reciprocity between Euro-and Native America is possible through the development of individual projects, materials and experiences that will be provided to the state's four recognized bands at the conclusion of the course.
Three Graduate-level Credits EDCI 200 Instructor: Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph.D.
Director, Haven Project and Abenaki Tribal Museum Tribal Councilor, Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi
Location, Meeting dates and times: TBA:
 - 2 -
Course Description:
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.
Brief description
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.
Service Learning
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
 - 3 - students to provide these and other materials and services. For example, the Passamaquoddy (a tribe in Maine) chiefs' headdresses, wampum belts and sashes of office were made in Vermont by my students in the 1990's. And so, students projects include service-learning opportunities, ranging from "mini-internships, to constructing replica materials (experimental ethnography) to film, to doing primary research on topics needed by the communities.
The overall goal of the "Teaching the Abenaki Way" course is simple-- to introduce professional interpreters to the breadth and depth of the culture system and material/social/spiritual content of the VT Indigenous experience revealed since 2009. This goal will be attained through various concrete learning outcomes as listed below. The most important learning outcome is an understanding and analysis of the wealth of new interpretation regarding the VT Abenaki experience that has arisen since 2009, and sufficient knowledge of the breadth of source material in Haven so as to be able to access it for use in the future. Students will be able to discuss and analyze the various historical periods covered in the course, and across the curriculum from political structure to spirituality and worldview. Students will learn skill applicable to navigating the Haven database and configure it to their own needs. Lastly, through their projects, students will give back to the subjects of their interest.
General Course Information
Course Policies/Expectations:
This is an intensive, eleven day experience with a follow up day for project presentations/discussion, and so a day's absence will be the equivalent of missing more than a week's work in a semester course and is unacceptable, with some exceptions (see "Grading," below). In addition, this graduate level course is dense with heretofore unpublished data applicable to understanding the Vermont Indigenous experience. Therefore, each student must have read and understood the required readings before the topic is discussed, and there will be time for question/answer and discussion made available during the day. The instructor believes that free and open academic discussion at the graduate level cannot be infringed by any preconditions or expectations. Therefore, expectation of in-class contribution is confined to the final presentations. We will not have any exams, because we assume that graduate students will do everything possible to keep up with the reading assignments. Each student will prepare a Daily Journal that commences upon beginning the readings and will complete on the day the course projects are turned in. It will encompass a log of hours spent on various readings/projects etc, scholarly musings regarding the readings, the lectures, presentations and the videos, including but not limited to an evaluation of each one's contribution to the course and the student's desired outcomes of the course. This detailed information will be used to refine the course for future offerings. Secondly, students will prepare an application of the course content to their profession (e.g. lesson plan, exhibit concept, etc.) that can be made available to other professionals as well as the Indigenous communities dealt with by the course. Lastly, in the spirit of Haven's Philosophy, each student will prepare a final project (or projects) that will be of service to the ongoing Abenaki revitalization, and do a final presentation on that project. These products have been requested by the four VT Indigenous Bands, or other Native organizations or organizations serving a Native mission. All students are required to be familiar with and adhere to the
―Academic Honesty Policy Procedures‖ delineated in the following website.
 Accommodations will be provided to eligible students with disabilities. Please obtain an accommodation letter from the ACCESS office and see one of the instructors early in the course to discuss what accommodations will be necessary. If you are unfamiliar with ACCESS, visit their website at http://www.uvm.edu/access to learn more about the services they provide. ACESS: A-170 Living Learning Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. PH: 802-656-7753, TTY: call 711 (relay), Fax: 802-656-0739, Email: access@uvm.edu, Instant Messenger: UVMaccess. General office hours: 8:30am
 4:30pm Monday through Friday. Call to make an appointment.

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