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Community members gather in Warner for Indigenous Peoples' Day

The field outside the Mount Kearsarge Indian Museum in Warner was packed Monday afternoon as community members gathered to honor Indigenous Peoples' Day.

In concert with Abenaki leaders, the museum brought together a panel to talk about Abenaki history in New Hampshire and Vermont, as well as share information about current projects the tribes are working on.

Chief Don Stevens, of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation, told the crowd about efforts his tribe is making to reclaim land and source their own food. His tribe has reclaimed 68 acres of land and is using it to farm and raise animals as a means of establishing food security and passing along generational knowledge. Stevens says it's vital that Indigenous history stays alive through generations.

"I ask people to teach their children to get reacquainted with their spiritual source, their food sources and the cultural source, because no matter where you go in life, you need to know where you've been in order to know where to go," Stevens said.

Sherry Gould, tribal genealogist for the Nulhegan Band of Coosuk Abenaki Nation, was a panelist at the event. Gould says conversations about Native Americans are often left for Indigenous Peoples' Day, or Native American Heritage Month in November. She says she hopes conversations about Indigenous history and people are on the table year-round.

"I hope that they think about our history, that we were here before settlers, and that they also would think about what we're doing today," Gould says.

Gould is a leader in the Abenaki Trails Project, a group working to identify and preserve sacred Abenaki sites.

"We're active all year long, Abenaki Trails, we've been doing things all year long and other bands are doing things all year long that we not only think about it in November."

Stevens echoed Gould.

"I hope that people are thinking about Indigenous people all the time, not just during Thanksgiving or special days, because we are part of the fabric of New Hampshire and Vermont and all of our territories," he said.

After sharing their stories, the panelists left the crowd with some actions items, including encouraging them to work with their hometowns and cities to add the traditional Abenaki place names to their welcome signs.