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Home News and Features Two-Eyed Seeing: Abenaki Speaker Series
Two-Eyed Seeing: Abenaki Speaker Series
In honor of World Water Day on March 22, the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association (VAAA) is presenting “Kwanitekw (Connecticut River): The Sustainer of Life.” The event is the third in the organization’s “Two-Eyed Speaker Series” that started Feb. 21. The term “Two-Eyed Seeing,” was coined by Mi’kmaw Nation Elder Albert Marshall, Vermont Abenaki Artists Association Director Vera Longtoe Sheehan said in an email to The Bridge. “As Marshall explains, “Etuaptmumk — Two-Eyed Seeing . . . refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and from the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing.” “This term provides a powerful and accessible phrase that enables us to share and uplift unheard Indigenous voices in discussions of history, archaeology, and ecology within our homelands,” Sheehan said. With that in mind, the final event in the series, “Kwanitekw (Connecticut River): The Sustainer of Life” will be presented by a panel of Indigenous citizens and environmental scientists sharing multiple perspectives on living in relationship with the Connecticut River watershed, according to the event description on the VAAA website.“The VAAA has committed to this multi-year, multi-dimensional project to encourage public awareness of the need to protect the waters for all living things,” Longtoe Sheehan said. “There’s less clean, fresh water today than ever before in human history.” Panelists include Darlene Kascak (Schaghticoke Tribal Nation), education director of the Institute for American Indian Studies (IAIS) and traditional Native American storyteller; Vera Sheehan (Elnu Abenaki Tribe), director of the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Abenaki Arts and Education Center; Kathy Urffer, river steward with the Connecticut River Conservancy; and Matt Devine, fisheries biologist with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Gabriel Benjamin, public historian and IAIS museum educator, will serve as moderator. Admission is free, and donations are welcome. Registration at www.Abenakiart.org. Coming together to share stories of the Connecticut River, Longtoe Sheehan said, “the panelists are living examples of how various ways of knowing, used together, can produce a better outcome for the interdependent lives who share the waterway.” “Our hope is to end on a note of progress,” said moderator Gabriel Benjamin. “The reason we are doing this program is to raise awareness of the dangers that face us — and the waters we all depend on,” said Longtoe Sheehan. “Not just that, the water can’t protect itself. It needs people to protect it, to advocate for it, and to put out a call to action. We want everyone to be a water protector.” Previous events in the Two-Eyed Speaker Series were “Rethinking Indigenous Ways of Knowing in an Increasingly Dangerous World,” on Feb. 21 and “Deep Presence and a More Inclusive History,” on March 7. To register for the third event in the series, “Kwanitekw (Connecticut River): The Sustainer of Life,” go to abenaki-edu.org/vermont-abenaki-artists-associations.