|Vermont Indigenous Celebration
|© 2009 Vermont Indigenous Celebration
By Fred M. Wiseman
1790 - “The seven domiciled villages of lower Canada represent the chiefs of the other
nations. The sault St. Louis (Kahnawake) is the general great fire of all of the savages;
after them the Abenakis, who between St Francois (Odanak) right down to the sea (The
Gulf of Maine) comprise 42 villages.” Jean Baptiste D’Estimauville Jan. 10, 1797 National
Archives of Canada RG 8, bob. C-2848, vol 250, pt i. Pp. 66-69 (Total manuscript)
1800 - Our brothers, a few days ago we came to see our father Mister Johnson, then he
made all of our hearths happy. He gave us a text… which states that the Iroquois
(Kahnawake Mohawks) and the Five Nations do not possess the lands south of Lake
Champlain, and that they belong to the Abenakis. National Archives of Canada RG 10 bob.
C-11471, vol. 99, p. 41090. They (the Abenakis) continued to occupy (Franklin Co. VT),
however, up to at least as late as 1800. Leslie Truax History of Franklin and Grand Isle
Counties L.C. Aldrich, ed. D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY 1891
1830 - A party of Indians, fifteen… have been encamped at Windsor… They are part of the
tribe of the Missisques, who live a wandering life on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain,
and are on a journey to Hanover, N. H. (They erected two wigwams and the leader’s name
was Say-so-saph Sa-ba-tese Al-anum) Green Mountain Democrat April 3, 1835 “..two
families of Indians from the banks of Lake Champlain have taken up residence in the city
(Philadelphia, PA), dwelling in two birch bark tents, they propose to carry on the basket-
making business.”. Hazard’s Register of Pennsylvania October 3, 1835 They (St. Francis
Indians) were in the habit of drifting back in bands of eight to ten families to favorite
camping grounds (in northwestern VT) up to as late as 1835 or 1840. Leslie Truax History
of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties L.C. Aldrich, ed. D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY 1891
1840 - Nails from the Bushy site, a Native American burial ground on Monument Road
Highgate, VT (human remains identified as native by Deborah Blom, UVM). There were at
least three types of nails remaining in the severely damaged coffins: a late 1700’s type
with a wrought head and a machine cut shaft, a later, early 19th century style that had a
single pass cut body and head, and a distinctive 1830’s + style that had a two pass cut by
the nail cutting machine. There were no wire nails of the late 19th century in evidence. The
presence of a multi decade native cemetery distinctly separated from the
contemporaneous burial ground in Swanton (on Church St., across from the Town Offices)
shows an organized use of a plot of land, thereby indicating a “larger than family”
corporate native existence. While Anglo families may have family plots, there is abundant
evidence that Eastern Native Americans buried their dead in communal plots. The fact that
nails date to different periods indicates a multi-decade communal memory of the
unmarked burial spaces.
1850 - “A deputation of the St. Francis Indians, at Montpelier, claiming compensation for all
that territory in Vermont west of Otter Creek, and between Lake Champlain and where the
waters begin to flow into the Connecticut…” The Caledonian. Nov. 26, 1853
1860 - Oct. 1863 GEORGE BURK, CHARLES PARTLOW, JASON VOSBURG, ALBERT
OLENA, Four Indians Alburgh, VT; Land and Miscellaneous Records. Book 16, pp. 593-
1880 - “Of the origins of this Burial ground… the St. Francis (Abenaki) Indians…knew
nothing… as I was… told by one of the few surviving members of the tribe.” Abbe
Hemmingway, Vermont Historical Gazetteer. 1883. Vol. IV: 945
1900 - Original Document Chief of the Wabanacus, Highgate VT. Real Photo Postcard.
Purchased on the Internet from a California collector. The inscription was scratched into
the negative with a stylus before printing the postcard, so it cannot be a later addition.
Original inscription Monument Road Monument: Mission to the St. Francis Indian—this is
the important document that makes the point that Vermont Abenakis were called “St.
Francis.” Needed to cast doubt on the Odanak hypothesis
1910 - Alice Roy, Barre, VT, interview where she tells of her father visiting the Indians in
northern Vermont, with descriptions of clothing and housing.
1910 - Original inscription Watch, engraved, 1918, with fancy beaded watch-fob.
Purchased from a New Jersey estate sale. Was supposed to be from Chester A. Arthur’s
family this cannot be confirmed, even though there is Stevens ancestral connection in
Arthur’s mothers’ genealogy.
1930 - Alice Roy and Prof. James Petersen share personal and family stories of Vermont’
s Gypsies in the 1930’s. Mrs. Roy indicated that the Franco-Vermont community knew that
the Gypsies were Indians, and Petersen’s Addison County family heirloom basket is
distinctively Abenaki in style. Collectively, this is archival testimony of the existence of an
existing Abenaki migratory community persisting into the 1930’s.
1940 - Fish spear, Wabanaki style, given to Frederick Kermit Wiseman by Ed Hakey. Was
Hakey’s spear when he was young and “used through the Second World War.”
1950 - Original Object with oral history Canoe cup, Edward Hakey, made for Fred M.
Wiseman in 1959. This was made by Ed Hakey who told me that it would “turn into a loon”
when turned upside down. Penobscot canoe cups are well-known and very valuable
ethnic identifiers; only known 20th century VT Abenaki example. Original Object with Oral
History Bark canoe and card. This canoe and its 1970’s era photocopy/information card
are collectively the only known example of a Vermont bark canoe made in the distinctive
Abenaki design more well known from Odanak. However, the Paquettes are a Highgate,
VT family. The only known mid 20th century bark-work “tourist item” made by VT Abenakis.
1960 - Original Object with Oral History Cradleboard. Stylistically dated to the 1950’s and
1960’s by nylon ribbon detail. This object was traded to me by Ben Gravel, in the mid 1960’
s and used by his sister to put babies in after they were born. It was too “modern,” for his
collection of Indian artifacts, and I traded him an Attikamek cradleboard for it. This
cradleboard, is in very good condition and shows creative and idiosyncratic use of 1960’s
parts, and materials, such as macramé beads, loomed nylon tape, and commercial
leather. Seems to have been artificially “antiqued” to make it seem more authentic.