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Afternoon encampment teaches pre-Colonial history

  • Bryan Blanchette, an Abenaki Indian, performs a song at the afternoon encampment at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Visitors to the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center listen to Roger Long Toe Sheehan, the chief of the Vermont Elnu Abenaki tribe, tell stories at the afternoon encampment event Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Roger Long Toe Sheehan, the chief of the Vermont Elnu Abenaki tribe, tells stories at the afternoon encampment at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt

  • Roger Long Toe Sheehan, the chief of the Vermont Elnu Abenaki tribe, tells stories at the afternoon encampment at the Northfield Mountain Sunday. Recorder Staff/Matt Burkhartt



Recorder Staff
Monday, June 12, 2017

NORTHFIELD — Residents of Northfield and the surrounding area spent Sunday afternoon at the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center, learning more about pre-colonial and Native American traditions and customs from the Connecticut River Valley.

Those who attended the afternoon encampment listened to songs and stories while browsing crafts. It was an interactive event where Elnu Abenaki tribal leaders presented to the group, told stories, and answered questions about pre-colonial times in the Pioneer Valley.

The event was hosted by the Northfield Historical Commission.

Elnu Amebaki Chief Roger Longtoe Sheehan and Bryan Blanchett both presented during the event, which ran from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and about 50 people attended on Sunday.

The presentations covered Native American life from the 16th to the 18th century as well as information about modern-day tribes in the area. Carol Lebo, chairwoman of the commission, said that the event is a way for those who have lived in the area to learn a new side of history of their home.

“Northfield has more history than we realize,” Lebo said.

Lebo said she heard from those who attended that they wanted more events like this, something she considers a success.

Don Campbell, another event organizer, said that presentations like these can help educate adults and children. He said many adults were taught narratives about Native Americans as savages and education is helping change commonly held stereotypes.

Campbell said in an area like Northfield, residents are able to see and be connected to local history through their surroundings.

“History is visible here,” he said. “It’s layers and layers deep.”

Linda Longtoe Sheehan also presented with her husband and displayed a table of jewelry, pipes and small weapons that she and her husband make.

Longtoe Sheehan said the couple love educating different people on the life of Native Americans. She focuses on women’s roles during that time. As her husband spoke to the group, she pointed to a man intently watching and listening to the demonstration.

“Watching people learn makes me feel good,” she said.

The event was co-sponsored by the Northfield Area Tourism and Business Assoc.

Reach Miranda Davis at
413-772-0261, ext. 280
or mdavis@recorder.com.