What does it mean to be an Abenaki person in the modern world? What does it mean to be an Indigenous artist? Native identity finds expression in different ways with each generation. Join Guest Curator Vera Longtoe Sheehan and MKIM curator Nancy Jo Chabot and as we explore the inspiration for Alnobak: Wearing Our Heritage and how this traveling exhibit has emerged from a decade-long collaboration between Lake Champlain Maritime Museum and Vermont’s Abenaki artists, community members and tribal leaders.
Wearing Our Heritage brings before audiences in New England a group of objects and images that document the way in which garments and accessories that reflect Abenaki heritage have been and still are made and used to express Native identity. These objects are made and worn for self-affirmation, to affirm connections with family, clan, band and tribe, and to express identity within the geographical locale co-occupied with mainstream culture. We hope that this exhibition will encourage public engagement and understanding of some of the issues associated with Native identity and recognition, and evolving creative expression by members of a traditional culture.
“Identity is a negotiation between what others expect of you and what you expect of yourself,” says Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D., Abenaki scholar and activist, who has spent several decades gathering, interpreting, and reconstructing artwork, artifacts, images and traditions of the Abenaki throughout the Northeast.
This special traveling exhibition developed through a partnership of the Vermont Abenaki Arts Association and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum will be displayed in the contemporary art gallery from September through November.
Vera Longtoe Sheehan is an Abenaki teaching artist, activist and Director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association. She offers educational programs on Native American culture, traditions and crafts, which are appropriate for audiences of all ages. She has been doing lectures and demonstrations at tribal events, schools, museums and historic sites for almost twenty years. She is a citizen of the Elnu Abenaki Tribe and member of the Woodland Confederacy, a living history organization.