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Preserving the Abenaki Language and Culture

01/30/08 12:30PM By Jane Lindholm
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Early to mid-20th century was not an easy time to be a Native American in Vermont, and many of the region's Abenaki downplayed their heritage to avoid discrimination. As a result, the Abenaki language fell out of use. In recent decades, Abenaki wishing to reclaim their heritage have had to go to Canada to re-learn the language at an Abenaki settlement there. Our guest, Abenaki basket maker Jeanne Brink of Barre, is among those who are trying to save the language from extinction. And we hear from Ellen Lutz, the editor of Cultural Survival Quarterly, about similar efforts by indigenous groups around the country.(Listen)

Also in the program, we look at a bill that would designate Abenaki-made crafts as officially Native American. Abenaki crafts-people and other proponents say a 2006 law that recognized Vermont's Abenaki fell short of federal requirements for marketing their art as Native American.(Listen)

And we listen to a song in the Abenaki language, recorded by Abenaki scholar Marge Bruchac.(Listen)


Photo: Abenaki basketmaker Jeanne Brink with some crafts made by her relatives.

Related Links

Cultural Survival Quarterly issue on language extinction Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs
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