Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sensitivity and celebration

Our sister newspaper, the Burlington Free Press in Vermont, reports that the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum began hosting an American Indian encampment last year in anticipation of the approaching quadricentennial celebration of the arrival of explorer Samuel de Champlain (the companion celebration to our region's ceremonies marking Henry Hudson's journey). The newspaper writes:

The Elnu Abenaki, based in southern Vermont, are dedicated to taking time to practice traditional skills in order to pass them to the next generation. Some take days or weeks from their modern lives to dress in buckskins, sleep in wigwams and cook over a fire -- singing, drumming and telling the stories their ancestors told.

Many Elnu feel the process brings them closer to their ancestors, tribe member Roger Longtoe said.

The value of their efforts extends to anyone interested in the history of the Champlain Valley, said Eloise Beil, communication relations manager for the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

"If you're going to talk about life in the Champlain Valley -- we're the newcomers. There have been 10,000 years of Native Americans here beforehand," Beil said.

Finding the appropriate ways to recognize the people who were already here when the European explorers arrived is one of the sensitive issues tied to the Quad commemoration.

No comments: