Skip to content

Governor Shumlin signs proclamation: November 2011, Native American Heritage Month

November 1, 2011

“My thanks to Governor Shumlin for signing this proclamation on the 1st day of the month.  Let this signify the official “ribbon cutting” to a month of celebration and events that honor our history, culture, and contemporary way of life.  Although we should honor our culture and heritage every month, not just November, this serves as a time to teach, and to share, and to renew our commitment to our future and the generations ahead.  Congratulations to Native America!”
– Luke Willard, Chairman
Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs


Vermont Indian Commission Agenda and comments from Chairman, Luke Willard

October 14, 2011

VCNAA Agenda 10-18-2011

Comments from Luke Willard, Chairman of the Commission…

“At this month’s meeting at the National Life Building in Montpelier, we will be discussing and answering the question, ‘Is there any type of recognition for people who identify themselves as Abenaki but are not enrolled with a tribe because they choose not to?’  This question has come up twice during our visits to communities throughout the state.  I’m fairly certain that the law is clear on this matter but it deserves to be discussed publicly.

Last month, we agreed to create committees that will help us to expedite our work more efficiently.  We all have strengths and weaknesses.  This will allow each member to utilize their own strengths and experience.  I will be proposing that we create three committees… Social Services, Government Policy, and Cultural Resources.

The next item we will be discussing is the state’s process of notifying tribal governments when indigenous archeological sites are discovered.  Perhaps more specifically, we will identify the state’s current process and work with the Division for Historic Preservation to create a policy that is respectful to Vermont’s tribes.  I believe this topic has the potential to evolve into questions such as “Who owns history?… and why?”

Next up, we will continue our on-going discussion of American Indian Heritage Month and Abenaki Heritage Week.  November is only a couple weeks away.  We will certainly request that Governor Shumlin renew last year’s proclamation affirming November as Native American Heritage Month in Vermont.  Regarding Abenaki Heritage Week in May, Charlene has taken a lead in this and we are seeking input from those who were involved  in the planning of this statewide event years ago.

Lastly, we will discuss how the Commission can help promote existing language programs and how we can organize language programs that are more accessible to Vermont’s Abenaki communities and population centers.  Many want to learn the language but cannot afford to travel outside their own communities.

The meeting is open to the public of course.”

Nulhegan Abenaki Call for Tribal Forests to Conserve Wildlife Corridors

September 30, 2011

September 29, 2011

Sierra Club & Abenaki Forest Campaign Takes Center Stage at Vermont Climate Rally


Moving Planet Rally in Montpelier, VT

More than 1,500 Vermonters rallied in the state capital of Montpelier to demand action on climate change and support community forests, green (union) jobs, energy-efficient homes and buildings, renewable energy, local/healthy food, and green

“This was quite possibly the largest environmental demonstration in the history of the Green Mountain State,” said Sierra Club organizer David Vandeusen. The event, held in conjunction with the Moving Planet day of action, was organized by Vermont and co-sponsored by the Vermont Sierra Club. More than 2,000 Moving Planet rallies were held in more than 175 countries around the globe in support of a transition beyond fossil fuels.

Club leaders also gave the governor a list of recommended actions that would greatly increase the number of conservation-oriented community forests over the next decade and beyond. The ultimate goal of Our Forests Our Future, which now has the support of organized labor and tribal partners, is to establish wildlife migrationcorridors running the length and breadth of the state, from the New Hampshire to the New York border.


Zak and David with Senator Sanders

In addition to Governor Shumlin, speakers included Senator Sanders, above at right with Griefen and Ellenbogen, Mike Morelli of the Iron Workers Local 7 (in support of green jobs), and Luke Willard, below, former Chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe and now Vermont Commissioner of Native American Affairs.


Vermont Indian Affairs Commissioner & Nulhegan Abenaki, Luke Willard

Willard addressed the crowd on behalf of the Nulhegan Abenaki, the Vermont Sierra Club, and the Our Forests Our Future campaign—Vermont’s component of the Club’s broader Resilient Habitats campaign to protect the Adirondacks to Acadia ecoregion.

“Our Forests Our Future was not conceived in the policies and procedures of bureaucracy; it was not conceived in the halls of government; it was not conceived in the offices of the corporate lobby,” said Willard. “This vision was developed at community tables all over the state and customized by Vermonters who provide stewardship in these most crucial of regions.”

Rather than seeking to increase federal land acquisitions or asking the state to buy more land, Our Forests Our Future would establish a mosaic of town- and tribal-owned conservation forests in key wildlife corridors.

“Our locally-owned tribal and community forest model will benefit our communities socially, economically, and culturally,” Willard said, “providing firewood to those who need it most, sustainable logging revenue and jobs, cooperative maple sugaring, hunting, fishing, gathering, and green agriculture.”

Watch a video of Willard’s speech, click on the image below.

The Sierra Club’s Adirondacks to Acadia campaign seeks to link the forests of
Maine’s North Woods, New Hampshire’s White Mountains, Vermont’s Green Mountains,
and New York’s Adirondacks. Wildlife corridors in Vermont, comprised of local,
state, and national forest lands, would stretch from the northern Connecticut
River Valley to the Nulhegan Basin and from the northern Green Mountains to the
New York border.

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Waste found in Connecticut River

August 18, 2011
***This is an issue that Abenakis should be very concerned about.  The Kwinitekw (Connecticut River) has been and still is a very important resource and route of travel to our people.  Vermont Yankee is poisoning our homeland.  Expect tribal leaders and Vermont’s Indian Affairs Commission to join the fight in saying goodbye and good riddance to Vermont’s leaky nuke plant.  – Nulheganaki Editor

Tritium found in Connecticut River

Waste leaked from Vermont Yankee

August 18, 2011

Radioactive tritium that leaked from the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant into surrounding soil and groundwater has now reached the nearby Connecticut River, the Vermont Health Department said yesterday as it released new river water test results.

Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen issued a statement late in the day saying water samples from along the river’s shoreline near the nuclear plant on July 18 and 25 had tested positive for tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that has been linked to cancer when ingested in large amounts. He said two samples showed tritium at 534 and 611 picocuries per liter, just above the lower limit the can be detected by testing instruments.

The Environmental Protection Agency safety standard for tritium in drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

“We have been tracking the plume of tritium-contaminated groundwater as it moves slowly toward the river, and this new finding confirms that the tritium has traveled from the Yankee site to the Connecticut River,” Chen said.

Vermont Yankee spokesman Larry Smith issued a one-sentence statement saying, “Once we receive the report from the Department of Health, we’ll thoroughly review it, as well as our own data.”

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin has been calling for the installation of more wells to pull contaminated water from the ground on the Vermont Yankee site since Aug. 3, after it was announced that another radioactive substance, strontium-90, had been found in the edible portions of fish taken from the river.

Yesterday, Shumlin reiterated that call.

“I am very concerned about the latest findings from the Vermont Health Department,” the governor said in a statement. “Confirmation that tritium has reached the shoreline of the Connecticut River is further evidence of the immediate need for more extraction wells and increased monitoring of the situation.”

William Irwin, radiological health chief at the Health Department, said tritium reaching the water’s edge was consistent with previous findings at the site that had tracked contaminated groundwater at the site from near the plant, where it was first detected at high levels, east toward the river, a few hundred feet away.

Irwin said the detection may have been aided by the river’s relatively low summer flow, with less dilution making a detectible level of tritium more likely. But he also said the sampling site was at the center line of where the plume of contamination on the river’s bank was believed to meet the water’s edge.

“We thought if there was any place to detect it, this might be the place,” he said.

Vermont state Rep. David Deen, chairman of the House Fish, Wildlife and Water Resources Committee, who is also a river steward with the Connecticut River Watershed Council, said he was not surprised by the finding.

In February 2010, less than a month after it was first revealed that the substance had turned up in test wells on the reactor site in Vernon, then-Health Commissioner Wendy Davis said it was safe to assume tritium had reached the river. But she said it had been diluted quickly by the fast-moving stream and its presence could not be detected with test instruments.

Tritium has leaked from dozens of nuclear plants around the country, but it has been particularly problematic for Vermont Yankee as it seeks to renew its license.

Within days of announcing that tritium was leaking from Vermont Yankee in January 2010, plant officials acknowledged providing misleading testimony to lawmakers and state regulators – the latter under oath – by saying the plant did not have the type of underground piping that carried substances like tritium.

Nulheganaki 2011 Celebration! August 27-28

August 17, 2011

What:  Nulheganaki 2011 Celebration
When:  August 27-28, 2011
Where:  Whiting Lane, Brownington, VT 05860

Nulheganaki 2011 is just around the corner!  Redefining “powwow”, Nulheganaki 2011 builds upon the celebratory, teaching, sharing, and social aspects of the powwow while shedding the monetary and carnival aspects that have come to define today’s powwows.

Unlike typical powwows which depend upon site-see’ers, tourists, and cotton candy to “turn a profit”, you will find no typical “China made” powwow vendors at Nulheganaki 2011.  In fact, you will find no vendors at all… only Abenaki artisans and presenters.  The main focus of Nulheganaki 2011 is the celebration of Abenaki culture and the historic and contemporary value of the Wabanaki and Seven Nations alliances.


Nulhegan lead drummer, Luke Willard

It’s not a “powwow”… It’s a CELEBRATION!! ALL members, friends, and friends of friends… ALL of Native America who values the customs, traditions, and alliances of the Abenaki people are invited to come celebrate. Rather than a powwow focused on money and entertaining the “dominant culture”, from this day forward, we will CELEBRATE our culture and our sovereignty OUR WAY.

Nulhegan Basketmaker, Sherry Gould

ABENAKI ARTISANS and PRESENTERS are welcome and encouraged to present, teach, and market your talent. Presenting artisans will not be charged a fee. Please label your products appropriately… there will be checks.

DRUM GROUPS and DANCERS! Come light up our circle with your music and your moves.

CAMPERS! Bring your tent, RV, camper, dome or conical lodge. Bring the food necessities that you will require for the weekend. There will be no food vendors. No power or other utilities will be provided. Port-a-toilets will be onsite. Unless you bring the proverbial kitchen sink… EVERYONE CAMPS FOR FREE.  Donations are appreciated to maintain the event.  Private donations can also be made to AHA, Inc. to benefit the Seventh Harvest Abenaki Relief Project and mailed to AHA, Inc, 158 Whiting Lane, Brownington, VT 05860.  You can learn more about Seventh Harvest at

NO PETS unless leashed 24/7. NO EXCEPTIONS. Owners are responsible for cleanup.

Tribal security will be onsite.

Nulhegan Drum and Singers

Nulhegan Singers


Drumming from the Nulhegan Singers; Dancing; Various presentations on culture, craftsmanship, etc.

Nulhegan Chief Don Stevens

Nulhegan Chief, Don Stevens & his mother

Nulhegan Chief, Don Stevens, will present welcoming and honoring ceremonies, wampum history & craftsmanship, etc.

Nulheganaki 2011 Celebration Blog

Fred Wiseman

Professor Fred Wiseman will present Wampum readings and instruction; A history of Abenaki alliances; A discussion on State Recognition and what it means for you; And a teaching of the Sun & Moon Dance and Green Corn Dance.

Nulheganaki 2011 Celebration Blog

Elnu Chief, Roger Longtoe

Chief Roger Longtoe and other Elnu Abenakis will be here to exhibit and discuss living history and more.

Face painting for the kids and the big kids too.

Saturday Potluck Feast for campers and presenters. We eat well at Nulhegan. There will also be a potluck Sunday breakfast for campers and presenters.

This will be a relaxed weekend of celebration… the old way.

History frequently mentions “sightings” of Abenaki encampments at various sites within our territory. August 27th & 28th will be another… History will reflect that there was a large encampment of celebrating Abenakis three miles north of Willoughby Lake during the harvest season of 2011.

Campers – Don’t be afraid to bring your acoustic instruments (if you play) for some evening campfire music if the weather permits.

For more information, email or call (802) 754-2216.

DISCLAIMER: The Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe, AHA Inc, and property owners are not responsible in any way for any loss or injury to self or personal property/automobiles suffered by any guest, participant, or pet.

I-91 North… take Exit 26 (Orleans).  At the end of the exit ramp, take a left onto Route 58 East.  Go about 7 miles on 58 East.  It will take you through the Village of Orleans and out through Evansville.  When you come to the end, take left onto Route 5A North.  Go 3 miles and you’ll see us on the right (Whiting Lane).

*All images and blogger commentary owned exclusively by Luke Willard (c) 2011 

Nulhegan, Elnu, and Seven Nations

July 2, 2011

Nulhegan Chief, Don Stevens, and Elnu Chief, Roger Sheehan, and other Abenakis meet with the Council of the Seven Nations at Akwesasne, June 23rd, 2011.

Abenakis meet with Seven Nations Council


Native American Encampment THIS WEEKEND – Calling all Drummers/Singers

June 22, 2011

*The Nulhegan Drum will be at this event for the weekend.  All drummers, old and new, are encouraged to come and participate.  Several of us will be camping for the weekend.  Call Chief Don or Luke for details… or email

Native American Encampment

June 25-26, 2011

Native American EncampmentMembers 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. As in other years, tribal members dressed in garments like those worn by their ancestors over the centuries will demonstrate singing, drumming, basket making, quillwork and bead decoration, food preparation, and other life skills.

This year, there is something new to celebrate: official recognition by the State of Vermont was granted to the Elnu and Nulhegan on April 22, and other applications are pending. “A new dawn has risen,” said Nulhegan Chief Don Stevens. Video footage of the April 22 Recognition Day declaration and celebration will be screened during the LCMM event.

The Native people at the encampment are experts in living indigenous arts and traditions, which they expect to share, rather than sell. They have researched, reconstructed, or apprenticed to learn long-forgotten techniques and now are able to create outstanding beadwork, quillwork, basketry, pottery, woodworking and other items for personal use or commissioned pieces. Cherished family stories and photographs provide the basis for a presentation by Koasek Chief Nancy Millette Doucet, who has recreated the clothing worn by an ancestor in the nineteenth century.

The Koasek have also established a program to help preserve Abenaki as a living language. “I have been amazed by the richness and depth of the new cultural and historical information generated by the Vermont Indigenous bands in their research for applications for Vermont State Recognition,” says Frederick M. Wiseman, Ph. D., Director of the Wobanakik Heritage Center in Swanton. “This is a potential new stage in Vermont culture and history – for Native people to work on their own history and culture and then present the results.”

The weekend includes hands-on activities for children, a demonstration of the ancient art of twining textiles, wampum readings, singing, drumming, dancing, and documentary video about the region’s Native American heritage created by student Lina Longtoe.

%d bloggers like this: