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Snow Snake 2011… An Abenaki Gathering

February 20, 2011

by Luke Willard

Snow Snake 2011 Nulhegan Koasek Elnu Abenaki Gathering

Snowsnake 2011

After driving around Fairlee for an hour trying to find our destination, my family and I arrived (late) at the home of Nathan Pero, who hosted the annual Snow Snake gathering.  This gathering of Abenakis native to the Connecticut River Valley, from the northernmost Nulhegan Tribe to the southernmost Elnu Tribe and graciously hosted by Koasek members, was a fairly typical Abenaki gathering.  We’re used to food, music, stories, jokes, discussion, more music, more food, and a fire… and yesterday’s Snow Snake gathering wasn’t far off at all.

For those of you who don’t know what Snow Snake is… it’s a game.  Basically, you throw a stick down a track of snow.  You can look it up online if you want more details.

Gatherings are important to Abenaki people.  Regardless of the event that brings us together, it is the “together” that matters.  The food, the music, the stories are all crucial to the survival of our culture.  These gatherings, whether it be a Tribal Council Gathering, a Harvest Social Gathering, the evening gathering at powwow time, a Snow Snake Gathering, etc… in my lifetime, they haven’t changed much.  They’ve only grown, and that’s good.  It means we’re holding on.  It means we’re slowly gaining ground.  It means that, against all odds, whether it be societal oppression, state and federal beat-downs, economic hardship, etc… we’re refusing to take the easy road of retreating into the shadows.

State Recognition has been the hot topic since 2005.  In 2011, we will see that recognition come to fruition OR we will see the State of Vermont publicly admit that it is happy being the whitest state in the union and wants to keep it that way.  One of those two things WILL happen… I’m sure of that.  Another thing I’m sure of is this – with or without recognition, Abenaki people in Vermont (and New Hampshire) will still be here; will still be practicing our culture; will still be gaining ground; will still be singing; will still be practicing and relearning our customs and language long after our oppressors of today are but dust and ashes in the wind.

P.S.  Next year, I will try to keep the snake on the track.

One Comment leave one →
  1. February 21, 2011 8:01 AM

    We left Quebec around midnight, Friday night, to hit a big snow storm in Vermont; no view, trees on the road, cross winds, etc.

    We finally arrived safe, in Montpelier, at 3 o’clock in the morning.

    We found our hosts’ house around 1 pm, on Saturday, and met with a very special group of people.

    I was surprised that many of them were speaking French. My mother was born in Waterville, Maine, and then moved to Canada, with my grandmother.

    We left around 4pm, after marvellous moments and sharing with our new friends, at Pero’s home.

    Thank you to all of you!

    You are unique people…

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