Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi
Mission Statement: Maquam Bay of Missisquoi diligently works to sustain and nourish our Indigenous cultural knowledge, to protect our places of historical, ecological and spiritual significance, and to strengthen the overall health and wellness of our people and community.
Who We Are
Incorporated in 2015, Maquam Bay of Missisquoi is the 501c3 nonprofit corporation serving community members of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi centered in Franklin County, Vermont. The Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi is the longest continuous kinship-related Abenaki tribal community in existence in the United States. Our relationship to our traditional homelands is acknowledged by both the State of Vermont and by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. This recognition includes our stewardship of the Grandma Lampman site, which was protected in the 1990’s through an agreement between the Lampman family, the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, the State of Vermont, and through collaboration with the Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge, which is of course named for our tribal homeland and that recognizes the history and continuing connection between the Abenaki Nation and the plants, land, waterways and wildlife that comprise the refuge.
What We Do: Maquam Bay of Missisquoi works alongside the Chief and Tribal Council of the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi, to assess the needs of the community and to co-develop programs and initiatives with community members that best address those needs. Maquam Bay is responsible for acquiring the necessary funding to support our community’s programs and initiatives, including the operational expenses of the Tribal Community Center and the Abenaki Food Pantry. Maquam Bay collaborates with Chief and Council, Community Knowledge Keepers and other community volunteers to organize and conduct the activities and programs for the community. (Note: Due to Covid-19, some of the in-person programs/activities listed below have been put on hold temporarily, but we are looking at ways to organize remote programming)
Hunger Relief, Food Security & Community Building:
Many Indigenous people follow in the footsteps of our ancestors and their way of living that included not turning away anyone who was hungry or in need of shelter. The Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi honor this tradition and those who came before us as best we can through the following programs:
The Abenaki Food Pantry was launched in 2015 due to the critical need among Abenaki Elders, children and families for increased access to healthy and nutritious food. We sought to bring back an important resource for our community, which had once relied on the tribal food pantry as a crucial community-based program. Our region of northwestern Vermont had significant unemployment and food insecurity prior to the pandemic, and the challenge of Covid-19 has made our situation even more dire. The pantry is open several days each week and is open to anyone from the community-at-large who is in need of food assistance. The pantry currently provides assistance for over 200 families each month and the number of individuals and families receiving assistance continues to increase. The pantry is run by community volunteers, including Maquam Board members and tribal leaders, at the Tribal Community Center, and families are more likely to seek assistance regularly here because they see familiar faces, volunteers who know food insecurity from personal experience, in a familiar, welcoming space.
The Missisquoi Abenaki Harvest Dinner is an annual event which has been held by the community for decades, where we invite the tribal Elders, families and community members to come to the Community Center and gather together for a shared community meal at the traditional time of harvest in fall. This is based on a longstanding cultural tradition, where family leaders would distribute the harvest throughout the community, to ensure that everyone has an equal share. Community volunteers, including Maquam Board members, work together to raise funds and donations, from both individuals and local businesses, to support the gathering; to do outreach to community members, including making sure elders and community members have transportation; and to prepare food for the community. This event also enables tribal leaders to meet with community members, strengthening the sense of community while also allowing for a check in with vulnerable community members who may need nutritional, home heating or other types of assistance during the harsh winter months. (Note: Due to Covid-19 community gatherings in 2020 have been canceled, but tribal leaders are doing outreach through the food pantry and community networks)
Thanksgiving Meal Assistance – the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi has organized and provided a Thanksgiving meal assistance program for Elders and families in need for at least two decades. We continue to raise funds and donations, and organize volunteers for this program through Maquam Bay of Missisquoi. We provide turkeys, grocery food boxes and grocery gift cards for Elders and families, which are delivered in person. This is also a continuation of a long tradition of tribal leaders ensuring that everyone has access to food. This is especially important at a time when the loss or lack of financial resources can feel disempowering. This program ensures that all families can gather and share a meal together.
Winter Holiday Gathering for Children- For decades the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi has organized a Christmas Party for children and families, ensuring that all children in our community receive a gift during this holiday. This event also includes a holiday community meal and gathering, and another opportunity for tribal leadership to check in with community members. Community volunteers, including Maquam Board members, raise funds and donations, do outreach to community members, purchase and wrap gifts for children, organize activities, and prepare food for the community.
Culture and Community:
We are taught that our children and their children are our greatest gifts and responsibilities. As we enter into family and community decision making, we consider how our actions could impact the next seven generations. Our cultural programs are open to all community members, but we are especially committed to programs that revolve around children and families, including the following:
Cultural Knowledge and Enrichment Programs – We offer a variety of Indigenous cultural knowledge and enrichment programs including an early readership and literacy program, providing culturally relevant children’s books at no cost for community children; oral history and traditional storytelling circles; women’s talking circles; traditional Abenaki song and dance; arts and crafts; and introduction to Abenaki language. Many of these activities take place at our Tribal Community Center and community outreach is a vital part of cultural programming.
Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge (ITEK) Outdoor Programs – Understanding climate change and how our individual and collective actions impact the environment is critical and our community has longstanding ecological relationships to our ancestral homeland. The Missisquoi National Wildlife Refuge was developed upon traditional and ancestral Missisquoi Abenaki lands and water, and many stories of this special place are shared amongst our culture keepers, along with other vital places like Maquam Bay and wetlands (Grandma Lampman’s site) and the Missisquoi River/Monument Road, all of which were at the center of our ancestral village. Maquam Bay and the Abenaki Nation of Missisquoi honor our heritage and knowledge of our homelands through programs designed to keep the connections and relations alive.
We offer youth and family focused community paddles; edible and medicinal plant knowledge walks and workshops; animal tracking workshops that teach about habitats and sustainable land/water practices; and a youth fishing program that teaches about sustenance and sustainability practices. We also help to organize and plant Three Sisters Gardens in our community, sustaining and recovering traditional Indigenous companion planting and honoring women and girl’s roles as planters and sustainers of our community.
Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention, Intervention and Healing A collaboration with Voices Against Violence enables advocacy and access to transitional housing for community members. A collaboration with the Vermont Crime Victim Services STOP program enables community advocacy and direct service violence prevention, as well as community-based intervention and healing programs.