By Gregory J. Lamoureux
SWANTON: A few dozen school students had a first-hand view of history on Monday in Swanton as members of the Abenaki celebrated their heritage through Indigenous Peoples’ day.
Known to the rest of the world, and formerly in Vermont, as Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples’ Day was signed into law by Governor Phil Scott earlier this year in an attempt to honor the native citizens of this land.
For many in Swanton, that means honoring their heritage. On Monday, members of the local Abenaki tribe gathered at the outdoor classroom, just east of the school, to unveil an 8-foot tall totem pole, carved by a local carver and tribe member, in Swanton.
The goal is to help teach the students in the school about the heritage and people who occupied the lands generations before the white people came to America.
The school is too large to have all the students participate, so each teacher chose one student from their class to represent the class in the ceremony, just after 1 pm.
Those students will go back to their classes and help explain what happened and give their fellow classmates their take on the totem pole and ceremony.
Carved into the pole are six animals, the head of an Indian Chief, and the iconic view “The land of the Dawn,” depicting the flag of the Abenaki.
The cedar for the pole was harvested from the shores of nearby Lake Champlain by the carver himself.