Our Commitment to Our Abenaki Neighbors

At Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, our mission is to connect all people to Lake Champlain, inspire them to learn from the past, connect and build together in the present, and create a sustainable future for all. As an organization committed to sharing the history, culture, and ecology of the Lake Champlain basin, we recognize that there were Abenaki people on this land first, regardless of who is here now.

We understand that in this current time, there is discord and questions around who the Abenaki stewards are of regions which include the Lake Champlain Basin and Champlain Valley. We understand that many voices are negotiating this conversation as individuals, organizations, and communities.

Museums have long participated in the erasure of people by presenting history, culture, and identity with a skewed lens, sharing only one side as the dominant narrative and in doing so, damaging entire communities of people. Our goal as a museum in today’s world is to not continue this harmful practice. The ways we practice changing include:

  • We commit to being a space of inclusion and a space for all voices.
  • We do our best as historians, archaeologists, and residents of the basin to give accurate representations of history and include all perspectives and contributions to this land.
  • We consult with descendants, we conserve artifacts, we use diverse primary and secondary sources.
  • We make our collections and research available to the public for academic use.
  • We continue to listen, reflect, and adjust to ensure we are changing harmful patterns in the museum and history field.

With this in mind, and in regard to the current discourse, it is not our place to answer questions of indigenous identity, enter the conversation, or try resolve the current conflict.

We endeavor to honor our mission and values, be good neighbors, and provide a platform for conversation, learning, and empathy. As an organization, we commit to this with the following actions:

  • We have a responsibility to steward Lake Champlain’s history and culture for all people of the Champlain Valley. We will welcome and listen to all research, evidence, perspectives, and stories.

  • As we are historians, educators, and researchers, we are also humans. We know that while history is evidence-based, history can also be incredibly personal and deeply connected to emotion. We will demonstrate empathy and respect when in conversation about history or identity and we will welcome all who wish to celebrate their history and connections to Lake Champlain in this manner.

  • For two decades, Lake Champlain Maritime Museum has collaborated with the Vermont Abenaki Artists Association and Vermont’s state-recognized tribes as neighbors and as a partner.  We will continue to be a partner and good neighbor to all who work with us, new and old.

  • As our values state, we believe in the power of history as well as the power of connection. Lake Champlain Maritime Museum is a space for people to come together to learn from the lake and build skills of collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. While on our campus, we will ask all to engage in respectful conversation, connect with each other with kindness, and pursue collaborative work.

We will respect any mutual agreements and decisions that Abenaki communities and individuals come to in this current discourse. 

If you would like to learn more, we encourage all individuals to do their own research and to be empathetic and respectful if you choose to participate in this conversation. The Education Justice Coalition of Vermont has some helpful resources and presents both sides of this discourse.