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Sunday, June 7, 2009

May and June of 1996 Abenaki Language and Cecile Wawanolette, Etc.:

I am not sure if I went to Swanton, Vermont for the pow-wow during Memorial Day weekend or not of 1996. The audio tape "jackets" are from the audio material I had created with Elder woman Cecile Wawanolett of Odanak, Quebec, Canada. I recall that there was an Abenaki Language Class or a "visit" by Cecile, that was held in North Stratford, Coos County, New Hampshire at Daisy Goodman's mother's house down along the Connecticut River (just a little north of East Stratford, N.H.), sometime before my going up to Odanak in June 1996. I had asked Cecile if I could kindly visit her up in Odanak with the endeavor to audio-tape record the 31 + Abenaki Language Lesson materials she had taught in Swanton, Vermont. We arranged for the 18th, of the next month (June). I had bought a new tape recording machine with a universal sound mic and a bunch of audio cassettes, and drove up to Odanak with a remaining $20.00 dollars in my pocket for gas money to get back into the State's with. I sat with Cecile in her livingroom explaining why I wanted to work with her regarding audio recording her speaking the abenaki language, etc. On the very first audio tape she helped create at her own kitchen table, in her own voice she'd stated that the Lessons and accompanying audio tapes would be "open" to all those who wish to speak the Abenaki Language. She clearly understood that our work would be "unrestricted", to those who wanted/needed such language material. In the process of audio-recording Cecile at her kitchen table, the first batch of tapes didn't sound clear enough so we had to backtrack, and re-record her speaking the lesson material over again. I would announce the Lesson, she would speak only Abenaki for that Lesson. We didn't have to do all 31 Lessons because Jesse Bowman Bruchac had done previously pretty much what I was trying to complete. It was my endeavor to make a complete set of Swanton Abenaki Language Lessons to be available to anyone who would want to have a set. At the end of the endeavor, Cecile and I had recorded quite nicely the written material I had brought with me. I came home and "boiled it down to two 90 minute tapes, combining my work with Jesse's but ONLY Cecile speaking the Lesson material in Abenaki.
While at Karen (nee: Porter) and Charles "Charlie" Richardson's place, "house-sitting" for them while they were away, with their permission I had typed up the "flyer announcement" dated June 28, 1996 that is attached to this posting. Naturally, depending on demand for the material copies and the two audio cassettes and the postage, I had to request the costs to get the two blank tapes, copy the lessons, and ship the set per each request, to the recipient. I had very limited income at the time, but I was not attempting to "sell the language, "use" Cecile, or any other sort of maliciousness towards anyone nor was I making sets and stocking them. Someone would request the material and I would created the "set" of two tapes and the accompanying phtocopied materials each time someone would request it. I sent a set to Jeanne (Lincoln) Kent, another to Paul Pouliot "group", etc. I sent the "bulletin" to Swanton's group led by "Chief" Homer St. Francis, and the Nebesak "group" led by Bea Nelson of Derby, Orleans County, Vermont. I could not find the previously- written-down address for the Connie Brow and David Gilman "Mazipskwik group" but I had concluded that once the word would get around, then they would contact me if they wanted the material. I had written the address of the "Traditional Abenaki of Mazipskwik and Related Bands c/o David Gilman P.O. Box 309 Highgate Center, Vermont 05459" previously on the back of a genealogically oriented document, and had forgotten that I had given it to my cousin Gordy Griggs of Island Pond, Vermont. This Mazipskwik "group" had created and organized itself from "Chief" Homer St. Francis' "group after October 1995. I was requested to be the "firekeeper" for their Essex Junction, Vermont Pow-wow event of July 27-28, 1996. I drove over to Essex Junction, Vermont to the place they were having this event in my 1975 Dodge van and drove up to a small trailer, and out stepped their "Tribal Judge" Michael Delaney. He threw that "bulletin flyer" piece of paper at me, yelling and carrying on, telling me to get back in my van and leave. Which I did without so much as a hi or goodbye to anyone! He'd been 'mad as a wet hen in a thunderstorm' all because he assumed that I was implying that I concluded that the only real Abenaki in the State of Vermont were from and of "Chief" Homer St. Francis' "group" because their "group" didn't get one in the mail. In retrospective thinking, I think the man was 'hostile', belligerant, egotistical and full of self-importance of himself. Here nor there now, he is deceased now right along with "Chief" or "Grand Chief" Homer St. Francis.
Communicating with Daisy Goodman and Thomas Obomsawin back then in the Summer of 1996, after having traveled up to Odanak by myself for the first time, I got a postcard in the P.O. Box one day, informing me that I needed to communicate with Elie Joubert (adopted son to Cecile) and Cecile Wawanolett herself. This postcard was sent by Daisy Goodman. So, I called Daisy Goodman up in North Stratford and she instructed me to contact Elie Joubert. I did, and he said for me to contact his mother Cecile. Which I did on the payphone as well, and she informed me that "some people had told her that I was allegedly 'selling the language', 'that I had recieved a $20,000.00 dollar Language Grant' etc etc, no she didn't want me to come back up to Odanak to her house ever again". The situation quite upset me as you can only imagine. I mailed her up a set of the finished audio materials and photocopied lessons. I am not sure who exactly told her these obvious lies, and distortions about my integrity and character as a human being, but I hope whoever they were that said these things to this dear Elder woman, finds some pathetic satisfaction in what they did to destroy my dream of working with her. I have my suspicions of whom was involved retrospectively speaking but it matters not at this point in time. I simply moved on and worked with elderly Stephen (Atian) Laurent (L8l8) of Intervale, New Hampshire, as I could regarding the Abenaki Language. I did the best I could, on the income I had at the time, and with the transportation I had as well. At least I did something with the language that hopefully will benefit someone in the future.
What happened around this time as well was that I had contacted Hull, Quebec, Canada's "Canadian Museum of Civilization" and recieved a reply dated May 21st, 1996 from them regarding their photocopies of their catalogue cards of manuscripts and audio tapes related to the Gordon Day collection. this cover letter I took to Tom and Daisy's home and I shared this good news with them. I wanted recorded Abenaki linguistic materials to use in my study of the Abenaki Language. Inviting me to dinner I agreed and the letter from this Musuem "disappeared" and no one seemed to know what became of it. I looked everywhere in that house that I could. Later, quite a many months later, Thomas Obomsawin brought it to Karen and Charles Lessard's house and handed it to me thankfully. The damage to my faith in these people was already done sadly said.
I recall that the reason I had asked Cecile if I could audio-record the 31 Swanton, Vermont Abenaki Language Class Lesson material with her, was because one day while visiting with Tom Obomsawin and Daisy Goodman, I had circumstance to have walked by Tom's "Music/Research room", and he was playing an audio cassette of Elvine Royce-Obomsawin speaking Abenaki. I was shocked there was this kind of Language material out there. I inquired if I could get a duplicate copy to listen to. The response was "no, it is copyrighted". Thinking on this, it pissed me off that something like this material on the abenaki language would have been Copyrighted, and "restricted" from other Abenaki People so that they could not get hold of such recorded Abenaki language. Subsequently, I had inquiried about getting the material from the Canadian Museum of Civilization up in Hull, Quebec, Canada and that is the very reason I wanted to create with Cecile Wawanolett, the tapes of the 31 Lessons of Abenaki Language Classes we'd done in Swanton, Vermont so that ANYONE could get this material without undue restrictions in obtaining such.
"Someone" felt the necessity to "talk" negatively to Cecile, and probably out of jealousy and maliciousness towards my endeavor. I didn't have alot of money, I didn't have any $84,605.00 dollar Language Revitalization Grants (nor did I know how to find one, let alone how to apply for such). I just took the time and the effort to do what I felt was a worthy and good endeavor and put it into reality and someone had to come along and sabatoge it.

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