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Woodland Clothing-Lake Champlain Celebration

00:00 / 05:07

VERMONT INDIGENOUS CELEBRATIONJuly 9-12, 2009Burlington, Vermont

Photos copyrighted to Morningstar Studio.

Fred Wiseman (one of the driving forces behind the Lake Champlain Celebration, welcomes the public and gives historical background.

Abenaki children explored the hands-on exhibits at the ECHO Museum right along with the general public.

While some Abenaki were in a village outside, others were inside giving demonstrations, talks, and working with youngsters in "make and take" projects.

This demonstration of finger weaving not only went on all day, but this dedicated Abenaki lady also worked hard on Elder Burton DeCarr's sash for opening day.

The ECHO Museum had many Abenaki Artifacts including this old fishing weir.

  Rose (left) was busy all day, everyday with curious people young and old. Melody Walker (right) was busy explaining Abenaki lifeways.   

 Children and adults alike (left) , spent a great deal of time looking at and learning about tools and utensils used by the Abenaki. Right, moccasins dry on a lean to.

Baskets like those made of ash for the tourists and farmer's wives sits next to a shield representative of those used at the Champlain encounter.

Abenaki bows lean against the frame work of a lean to ready to grab with the quiver filled with arrows and gourd canteens of water for a warriors' march.

Some of the beautiful crafts made by some of the village interpreters.

A birch basket with etched designs is on permanent display at the ECHO museum.

A truly primitive birch basket.

One of many beautiful banners created for the events at the museum.

   An ancient pot (left) sits near a more modern one showing the beautiful designs of the period. On the right is the means by which corn was ground into a flower consistency. Woodland People did not make bread, but added the substance to thicken soups and stews.

Visitors from the Mohawk nation across the Lake also contributed to talks and dance demonstrations.

Author and wampum artist , Darren Bonaparte, of the Mohawk Nation was on hand to interpret the designs.

Of course, Champlain (Jesse Wiseman) and his beautiful wife (age 14), were part of the ceremonies.

Campers everywhere could take a lesson in simple camping from lean tos such as these.

Chief Roger Longtoe of the Elnu Band, provided people with history and stories.

Two Abenaki warriors wearing the red ocher which made us known to others as "red paint people."

 It took many Abenaki citizens and artisans to fill the village which was almost constantly filled with curious visitors.


Unfortunately, I was unable to take pictures of everyone who participated so I wish to apologize if someone is not in these photos. Fred Wiseman organized the fashion show and lent many of his own regalia and artifacts to the models for the occasion.

As with all Abenaki ceremonies, the wampum bearers (Mylea, left and Sarah, right) entered first and then flanked the MC (Don Stevens) as he described each model's garb.

Pre-contact whaler is ready to hunt.

 Early dress (left)(Melody Walker) consisted of simple hides without much embellishment . Once cloth became available, leggings such as these were added for warmth and protection. The vessel she carries is one similar to those made before contact. On the right ( Bonita)is a slightly later two piece outfit with a halter top adorned with clam shells and small bits of copper. As she walks, the shells make a gentle sound meant to catch the attention of young men who might be possible husband candidates. 

This young warrior's outfit is pre-contact. Fully leather it is decorated with familiar designs added with natural dyes. Notice the long bow and fine arrows for hunting. (Dylan)

After contact, cloth (left)Tazney) became the material of choice. Now designs were added with applique and beads, but some items handed down from family members were still worn with honor. The basket is one similar to those made to sell. Right is a ceremonial regalia for the sun and corn. It is made from corn leaves and has corn cobs on the belts. Wherever there were corn fields, there were also sun flowers. Not only did they provide protein from the dried seeds, they were revered for their reverence to the sun. They are they only known plant which faces the sun and follows it across the sky as day progresses.

 Even though cloth ( left)(Erica) was a favored material for clothing as colonization progressed, the Native People continued to use old designs as part of their ornamentation. The basket she carries is similar to the ones made by Indian women and sold to non-Natives for as little as one dollar each. They are now a valued collectible. On the right (Mitchal) is an example of how the traditions were continued in dress but substituting cloth for what use to be leather. The shirt, leggings and "possibles bag" all became cloth, but continued to look like those made in leather. The biggest change was the introduction of trade silver items. Whether decorative, tools or weapons, metal became a popular trade item between the French and Indians.                             

As more and more Abenaki fell under the influence of the church, clothing became less and less revealing for both men and women. Some believe that the hoods worn at this time in history, were part of the nuns' influence upon our women. They also taught our young women the art of tatted lace making. (Katie).

For those still fighting in the French and Indian wars, (left)(Josh) military jackets, muskets and other items taken from fallen soldiers became prized possessions. Worn with woven sashes and leather leggings it shows that there was a "cross-over" period for the men as well as the women. (Right)(Takara) Women and men alike tried to assimilate into the new society by dressing and acting as much like their counterparts as possible in order to escape the prejudice of the period.                                    

One of the last attempts to keep Abenaki men (left)(Connor) in traditional clothing is this cloth and glass bead warrior's outfit. As the smaller beads became

less available, larger beads were used for such adornment. Today, our young people (right)(Lauren) dress in bright colors to dance the circle.

Nulhegan Chief, Don Stevens steps out as a 2009 Abenaki professional. He is dressed in tuxedo, and spats, carries his computer case and proudly wears his Abenaki beaded banner. While the Abenaki are still here, we are no longer the "savages" who still lurk in the imaginations of Vermont citizens. Many have higher college degrees, own business and are CEOs of companys.


People patiently posed for photo after the fashion show.

This couple reflects the dignity of our People.

Some of the beautiful quill work on display by Abenaki craftsmen.

Citizens of the Elnu Band drum for a dance demonstration.

 Both Josh (left) and Takara (right) are award winning dancers who demonstrated the beauty of our Woodland dances. They spoke with the audience and demonstrated several different types of dancing. 

The ECHO museum had many artifacts and reproductions on display throughout the museum. Here one can see the splitter and ash strips to create the basket on display.

ECHO employees also taught the public how to created Native crafts. Here is a demonstration on making chording.   

                Abenaki Elder, Burton DeCarr , was on hand throughout the day offering opening and closing prayers.


At least three generations of a Mohawk family visited , demanding a tariff of Fred Wiseman for our being there. He was promptly told that they were on OUR side of the Lake and they were in our territory now. Peace was made and the dancing began amidst good natured laughing.

                     Other members of the Mohawk family shared in the dancing which included the public.

The event was AWESOME. If you weren't there, you missed a great event!

Photos copyrighted to Morningstar Studio.

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