Abenaki re-enactment focus of Northfield’s Day of History on Sunday

  • Roger Longtoe Sheehan, (shown here) “sagamo” or chief of the Elnu band of Abenaki, will demonstrate cooking, hunting, trade, music, storytelling and craft making during the Northfield Historical Commission's Day in History on Sunday, June 11, 2017. Contributed Photo/Carol Lebo

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/8/2017 11:14:32 AM

NORTHFIELD — Residents will get a taste of local Native American history Sunday, as members of the Abenaki tribe recreate the mid-17th century lives of their ancestors as part of Northfield’s Day of History.

The Day of History, organized almost every year by the Northfield Historical Commission, serves to raise awareness of the commission while teaching residents about the town’s history, according to Historical Commission Chairwoman Carol Lebo.

In recent years, the commission has offered a home and garden tour, an exploration of 19th-century evangelist Dwight L. Moody’s birthplace and a history-oriented walk down Highland Avenue. But Lebo said the commission wanted to try something new this year.

“Up until recently, the Historical Commission has been mostly interested in colonial history,” she said. “More recently we’ve become more interested in pre-colonial history and in archaeology … We decided this year that we’d sort of go back to earlier history.”

Through connections to different bands of the Abenaki tribe, the commission was able to arrange for members of the Elnu band to offer a re-enactment Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. outside of the Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environmental Center.

The program, which is free and open to the public, is simple, Lebo said, with attendees being invited to bring picnic lunches.

During the encampment, Lebo said, residents will learn about the history, customs and lifestyles of the early Abenaki from Roger Longtoe Sheehan, “sagamo” or chief of the Elnu. Longtoe Sheehan and other members of the tribe will demonstrate cooking, hunting, trade, music, storytelling and craft making around a campfire, harkening back to mid-17th century life in Northfield.

“Most of the tribes in this area were Abenaki,” Lebo said.

Specifically, according to Lebo, the Sokoki, and a smaller, related band called the Squakheags, both members of the larger Abenaki nation, lived in and around Northfield when English settlers arrived in the area.

Lebo said focusing on local Abenaki involvement as part of this year’s Day of History will help the Historical Commission and residents “better understand the history of the Connecticut River Valley.”

You can reach Shelby Ashline at:

413-772-0261 ext. 257


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