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Friday, May 29, 2009

A bit more about April 1994

When I was sitting in the Grand Union Parking lot there in Burlington, Vermont that day of April 06, 1994, I had been waiting for a person to arrive from the Mallett's Bay area, whom I had only spoken to on the telephone while I was out in Washington State. She said she was Abenaki, and worked (at the time) for the "Tribal Office" there in Swanton, Vermont. Her name was "Dee Brightstar". When she came up to the 1975 Dodge van, with myself and the hound dog sitting there, the shock in my mind was undeniable. Here was a woman, with dyed black hair, sunglasses, long jean "duster" coat on, with a head scarf over her head. Makeup plastered all over her, earrings and "Indian" Jewelry hung from her neck and ear's the likes that would have sunk the Titanic! I was "shocked", taken aback by the scene/ image that assaulted my eyes. I didn't know if she was real or whether I was hallucinating. But I put my first impressions aside and kindly said hello to this woman. Shortly thereafter, we arranged that I would "rent" from her, til I found a place of my own. She introduced me to the Swanton "Tribal" people such as Michael Delaney and his wife Ina, Gina, Bunny, etc. as well as Daisy Goodman. Soon, in late May during the Memorial Day weekend, the Missisquoi Abenaki Pow-wow would be held, which I was looking foward to attending. I met Homer St. Francis, their "Chief" and he informed me that I would be "firekeeping" at the event.
I was sitting at their "Tribal Building" (the old Swanton Railway Station) when I met this elderly man by the name of Robert "Bob" Wells, a proclaimed Medicine Man of the Abenaki. He even had a Medicine Man business card in his wallet! He didn't speak Abenaki. By then though I knew a little bit of language. But we met, he began to hang out with me and I enjoyed his company too. I met Doris Minkler and her family, John Moody, Cecile Wawanolet (the language speaker/teacher from Odanak) when she'd travel down to give the Language Classes in the "Back Barn".

Well, it took about a mere three months, if that, and the arrangement that Dee Brightstar and I had of renting etc, went from so-so to just plain negative. She bad mouthed me to everybody. It was here nor there.

In the newspaper article regarding the May 1994 Pow-wow event, on the left hand side, stands Joseph Bruchac to the right of myself, "Salmon" holding the smudging pot, Elie Joubert is holding the Missisquoi flag, then to the left of Elie is Daryl Laroque, and then Dale Carson wearing the Mountain Man regalia/buckskin outfit.
That July another Pow-wow was happening in Littleton, Grafton County, New Hampshire that we all from Swanton, Vermont traveled to. So, in the next entry I will share awareness of my very first "introduction" to Nancy Lee (nee: Millette) Cruger, the Promoter of the Town of Littleton, New Hampshire at the time, who was the person who organized that event.

In the photo of the man wearing the headdress and mocassin patterned ribbon shirt is Homer St. Francis at one of the events up in Highgate during Memorial Day weekend. He also wore this "ribbon shirt and feathered headress to the Remich Park Pow-wow event in Littleton, N.H. later in July, 1994. The other man in the buckskin and headdress is Walter Watso from Odanak, Quebec, Canada. The woman in the shawl and hair-pipe choker is Dee Brightstar, the elderly man sitting in the chair is Robert "Bob" Wells who worked with harvesting and doctoring with plants, and the Drum Group is from Swanton, Vermont; the man in the white cowboy hat was Wayne Hall a.k.a. Mountain Couger, then to the man with the white hair and light blue shirt is Edward Verge Sr. from Island Pond, Vermont; then to Ed's right is Jesse Bowman Bruchac, then Thomas Obomsawin, then Dee Brightstar whose singing outside of the drummers, then there's Charles a.k.a. "Souring Eagle" Delaney Jr., and Bob Charlebois from Fall River, MA. The other picture is of the same group of people but from a different angle. Most of these people, you will hear about in future blog postings either in the dcoumentary evidence or in the commentary to the postings images.
Another photograph I have placed here in this posting, is that of Dee Brightstar and Doris "a.k.a. "Morning Dove" Minckler. I recall that Dee Brightstar was always visiting Doris, etc., and that another woman by the name of Cheryl (a.k.a. "Nanatasis") Bluto - Delevental also visiting quite regularly with Doris. These two women, Dee Brightstar and Cheryl Delevental were "opposing each other" for the "entitlement" of being Doris' successor to being Turtle Clan Mother who would be entitled to sit as an woman Elder on several Councils in Vermont, etc. Perhaps, it was only Dee Brightstar that was having the "issues" with Cheryl, but I remeber there was a competition between these two woman, over who took over "after Doris passed away" even before she did pass away on March 10th, 1997. I remember I would visit with Tom Obomsawin and his companion Daisy Goodman who were living behind Doris Minkler's place back in 1994, and late one night, I seen Doris was up because her light was on in the kitchen, so we would sit and talk, play cards. She did the best that she could, and indeed she was a devout Catholic Christian, yet she was "appointed" as being the "Medicine Woman" of "Chief" Homer's "group" and she told me this. She was passing out "names" to those who sought her out. She was a Indian name-giver just as much as "Chief" Homer and his "Tribal Judge" Mike Delaney was "Membership Card-givers". Out of no disrespectfulness towards Doris or anyone else, I think of when this all was going down, that as much as Homer and Mike were giving out these "cards", the person(s) would get the "card" and then they'd go over to Doris' place and get their "Indian Name"!
Thats how I look at back then anyway, and if that is supposedly "disrespectful" of the deceased, well that is how I retrospectively look at those times when I was there watching it all go on. I remember the plastic beads, the leathers and dyed fake feathers, the whole nine yards. There was no central "Community" acknowledgement of anyone getting these "Indian Names". They certainly weren't in abenaki. There was no gathering of the "Abenaki Community" around a person having been born, married or dieing when I was there in the Spring-Summer-or Fall of 1994. A person brought a "gift" of whatever, requested Doris Minckler to give them a "Indian Name", and she would tell them to come back in a week or two, and she gave them something they'd either told her they wanted or something she thought up, dreamt up or whatever. Then, that person who now had been given an "Indian Name" went around and informed everyone else about getting the name, or used it, instead of their legally given birth name in the records or the like. "Salmon Raven Deer", a name I transfered from the native language over into the english language and legally took is exactly a classical example of what I am talking about! Native names are not given in this manner, traditionally ,and neither was it appropiate what was happening up in Swanton, Vermont either, respectfully said!
The woman in the upper photograph holding the dark brown dance shawl, wearing the really long buckskin fringed dress is Jeanne (nee: Lincoln) Kent at the May 1994 Pow-wow at the Highgate, Vermont Pow-wow. I will be posting more about her "involvement" in the Recognition Process; etc. later on within this blog as well.

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