Thursday, December 3, 2009

Abenaki Art

To the Abenaki art was a way to express there way of life. The Abenaki were very talented in making many useful and decorative art pieces. Among the art made by them is jewelry, pottery mocasins and feather headdresses. Masks were often used for gatherings or Pow Wows. The masks were carved by hand using wood or stone. Baskets were an important piece of art to the Abenaki. Baskets had many functions. These baskets were used for holding food, travel needs, utility storage and for decoration. Instruments were also an important piece. Musical pipes, drums and flutes were all made to be used during the gatherings.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Abenaki Politics

The Abenaki were hunters. In the Champlain Valley corn was grown by the Abenaki. The combined hunting and Agriculture on a seasonal basis. The Abenaki political and socail structure weere flexible. When Europeans began moving into the Abenaki homeland in the 17th Century, this caused problems. The Europeans brought over many diseases, new religion, and technology. By making canoes, moccasins, and snowshoes, the Abenaki made life easier for the Europeans.

Abenaki Religion and Mythology

The Abenaki have many mythological figures in which they believe in. Here are a few and what they represent:
  • Gici Niwaskw - means "Great Spirit," and is who they refer to as "God." Niwaskw is merely a spirit with no human characteristics
  • Azeban - A raccoon that resembles a trickster figure to the Abenaki. Azeban is a character in many folklores.
  • Malsum- This name means "Wolf," and is given to evil spirits.
  • Giwakwa (male) or Giwakaweskwa (female)-These are evil man eating giants of Abenaki legends.
  • Bemola - A snow bird spirit.

Abenaki Lifestyles and Traditions

In the 1600's, the Abenaki gatherings were more significant than they are today. Many "pow wows" as they called them, are still used as entertainment today. The early gatherings were to celebrate important milestones such as weddings, death, trading, the planting moon, warefare and the harvest moon.

The ceremonies were very spiritual. They began by praying to the Creator, Mother Earth, and Father Sky. They would ask them to bless the grounds, the people who were there and those who were not. These ceremonies would consist of Abenaki blessing the circle with smoke, dancing and playing the drums. The following is how a gathering ceremony song would be sung. The eldery would go first, followed by the next of kin. The first song would be a welcoming song, followed by the grand entry song. Each song would have a purpose. The calling would bring the dancers to a circle. The grad entry song would call everyone to the circle; followed by honoring the land, the dead, warriors, ancestors and creators. There are many different songs with different meanings.

A Pow Wow is basically a large festival. The Native wear colorful dress, and sing and dance to drums. To the Abenaki, a pow wow is referred to as a medicine gathering; a time and place to heal and gain spiritual guidance. The
music, dance and artistic expression were ways to heal. A Pow Wow was also a place for socializing, match making, and trading. Although the ways have changed, today Abenaki still think of pow wows as a spiritual act.

Abenaki Indian History

The Abenaki Indian name originated from a word in their own language, meaning " Dawn Land People," or "Easterners." Eastern Abenaki occupied the state of Maine from the 1600's. Lake Champlian (Vermont), New Hampshire, and parts of Canada were occupied by the Western Abnaki. Both tribes spoke the same language.

After diseases such as small pox and the measles came around, the Abenaki population began to decrease significantly. The Abenaki were foragers. They gathered and hunted their own food. They traveled by mainly by canoe, and lived in villages near waterfalls to harvest fish.
The American Revolution divided the Eastern and Western Abenaki and remained divided until the war of 1812.

The Abnaki flag is dark green like the Green Mountains. On the green is a centered shield. The shield is a tribal seal representing animal hide.