Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Honoring Our Ancestors at the Branch of the River

Left to right: Denise L. Watso, Daniel G. Nolett, Senator Roy J. McDonald, Councilor Claire O'Bomsawin, Town Councilman John Rustin Sr., Town Supervisor Jean Carlson, and President of Knickerbocker Mansion Joseph Ferrannini 
            This summer, Abenaki citizens from Odanak and the Albany Capital District honored our ancestors and enjoyed a day of music and visiting at Schaghticoke, New York, where many of our ancestors lived from the 1670s to the 1750s. 

Schaghticoke – “at the branch of the river,” or the confluence of the Hudson and Hoosic Rivers – was home to aboriginal people from the Connecticut River Valley who fled the turmoil of King Philip’s War, when the English fought and defeated an alliance of First Nations which included some of our ancestors – Pocumtucks, Norwottucks, Sokwakis, and others.  Ancestors of the Msadoques, Wawanolett, Capino, and many other families were once known as Schaghticoke Indians.

Our Abenaki families have continued to live in the southeastern Adirondacks and upper Hudson Valley, and today the Capital District is home to many of our people.  

On July 28, Abenaki people were invited to the Summer Festival at the Knickerbocker Mansion, an historic site located on our ancestors’ lands.  Many local Abenaki attended, and several people traveled down from Odanak for the event.  Our Council signed a resolution proclaiming the significance of Schaghticoke in the history of our people, and this was presented to several local dignitaries by Councilor Claire O’Bomsawin. This was accompanied by an historical overview and songs presented by Daniel G. Nolett, Ozalee Nolett, Alanis Nolett, Jennifer Hanson, Noah Watso-Hanson, Michele Hamel, Anita Sioui, and me.

The rest of the day was devoted to fellowship, much of it spent under a large tent enjoying Abenaki songs led by Daniel Nolett and Jacques T. Watso.  It had been many years since our people drummed at this site.  It was an honor to be there with my fellow Abenaki, singing our traditional songs.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all of the local community members who attended.  Thanks also to Christopher Roy for his research on the historical presentation. 

Additionally, I would like to extend special thanks to all of those Abenaki who traveled four-and-a-half hours from Odanak to participate in the event:  Daniel Nolett and his family, Jacques T. Watso, Priscilla Watso, June Benedict Palmer, Anita Sioui, and Councilor Claire O’Bomsawin. 
Ktsi wliwni!
Denise L. Watso