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JSC Professor to Screen Abenaki History Documentary


JSC Professor Wiseman to Screen Second Installment of Abenaki History Documentary

November 29, 2007

As part of the National Native American Heritage Month, the Humanities Department at Johnson State College will sponsor a screening of an upcoming film concerning the European discovery of Lake Champlain. Humanities Prof. Fred Wiseman will host the screening in the Ellsworth Rooms (#’s 211-212) in the Campus’ Library Learning Center. Following the 25-minute video screening, Prof. Wiseman will answer questions, as well as discuss other planned Native American involvement in the upcoming Lake Champlain Quadracentennial Celebration.

1609: the Other Side of History is the second episode of the “Against the Darkness” video trilogy outlining the Vermont Abenakis’ cultural continuity in the Champlain Basin. The video series began as an idea for the Abenaki Heritage Celebration pageant at the Missisquoi Valley Union High School (Highgate, VT) in May 2004. The first installment, Against the Darkness, was published as a CD/DVD combo pack in September 2006, and is being distributed to Vermont schools. In preparation for the upcoming 400th anniversary of the European discovery of Lake Champlain, the Darkness Falls team is looking at this historic event from an Indigenous perspective.

After of two years of research, set and costume design and filming, this “cut” of the new video gathers an impressive array of historical and archaeological information, maps, as well as unique historic objects and archival images to rethink the clichéd “Great Man” view of the European discovery of Lake Champlain. Except for Champlain’s drawings, few of these artifacts and images have been published or seen elsewhere. The video places Champlain and the French within the complex Indigenous diplomatic, militarily, political and cultural processes of the Great Council Fire, an ancient Native Alliance and its century of battle with the Iroquois. This war, which included the Abenakis, had engulfed the entire Northeast by 1609. This maelstrom of conflict brought a small Native strike force and its uninformed French allies to an already well-known Lake Champlain that fateful July. Using live action by Abenaki actors to portray the Alliance warriors, and Franco-Vermonters to represent their French forebears to the stirring digital beat of Music2Hues, this video inspires as well as informs. We hope all who experience Champlain and the Last Alliance will understand more about Vermont’s hidden Indigenous history, as well as the ancient and continuing cultural and economic contributions of the Abenakis and their Native Allies to the Green Mountain State.

1609: the Other Side of History was written and produced by Frederick M. Wiseman, archeologist, indigenous rights activist and author (Voice of the Dawn and Reclaiming the Ancestors), using well-documented historical and archaeological information, including Champlain’s journals. The video’s historic objects, replicas and graphics come from the Wôbanakik Heritage Center collections located in Swanton, VT. They were carefully researched and arranged to best illustrate Northeastern Native life at the turn of the 17th century. Video was shot with a state of the art Sony(c) HDR-FX-7 HD/DV video camera, assisted by the Glidecam(c) stabilizer, Skypod(c) and Røde Videomic(c). Digital music files are courtesy of Music2Hues. Footage, sound, imagery and music were edited and enhanced with Sony Vegas 6 combined with Cool-Edit Pro, Boris Graffiti, and Boris FX CGI special effects software. The CD/DVD menu systems are by DVD Architect 3 and Dreamweaver. The video will be released as a “regular” (DV) DVD for distribution to schools, and as a wide screen high definition (HD) version for projection at Champlain Quadricentennial events