Native roots

Educational project recognizes NH’s Abenaki heritage

The Abenaki Trails Project, launched last August, is highlighting New Hampshire’s Abenaki history and present-day Abenaki communities. It’s a partnership between the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki — a Native American tribe based in Vermont — and New Hampshire towns and organizations. Nulhegan Abenaki citizen and Hopkinton resident Darryl Peasley, who co-founded the project, talked about what it has accomplished since its launch in August 2020 and the initiatives it has planned for the future. For more, see

What started the Abenaki Trails Project?

Back in 2010, when we were trying to get the law passed to create the Commission on Native American Affairs, I listened to some legislators say that there was no need to acknowledge the Abenaki [history] in New Hampshire because New Hampshire was just a pass-through state and no Indians actually lived here. That kind of got my blood boiling, because there were Indians who lived here, and they were Abenaki. … I thought, wouldn’t it be nice if we had a project that would educate the public about the Abenaki and let people know that the Abenaki did live here, and that some of us still live here. … Hopkinton is where I’ve lived all my life, and it had actually changed Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day on its town calendar … so we started there.

So, is there an actual trail?

When we say Abenaki Trail Project, it’s not like a trail that you would walk; we don’t want to pinpoint any specific spot. It’s more of a trail from town to town to show people where the Abenaki lived and where we live now. … We have almost conclusively found [the locations of] four different Abenaki settlements, which, today, are within the town boundaries of Henniker, Warner, Hopkinton and Bradford. … We’re hoping to make a map or brochure so that you could spend a day or two traveling from one town to the next and being in the general area.

How big is the Abenaki population in New Hampshire?

There are hundreds in New Hampshire … living among you as factory workers, laborers, computer technicians, social workers, lawyers, doctors — everyday people. … Indians in this area [don’t look like] your stereotypical western Indian … so unless someone comes out and introduces themselves as an Abenaki person, chances are you would never know.

What partnerships and initiatives has the project established so far?

We’ve partnered with the Hopkinton, Henniker, Warner and Bradford historical societies. There are a couple of archaeologists with the Hopkinton Historical Society who we’re working with. … We’ve partnered with the New Hampshire Historical Society so that, if they come up with something [about Abenaki history], they’ll ask us about it, and we can tell them if there’s truth to it or not. … We [recently had an] art show … at Two Villages Art Society in Hopkinton with around 20 to 25 artists — some are Abenaki artists and some are our community partners — who do different things like fiber art, leather art, basketmaking and pottery.

What do you have planned for the future?

If you look at the calendar of what our team is planning for the summer, just about every weekend is booked up with one thing or another. … We’re going to be participating in the Living History event in Hillsborough this summer. … We’re putting together an Abenaki regalia display for the Kearsarge Indian Museum, and members have been constructing leggings, coats, shirts and moccasins for that. … Hopkinton has asked us to involve school kids in the project, so we have a couple of teachers on our team who have started putting together a curriculum that teaches kids what actually happened [in Abenaki history].

Are there any misconceptions about the Abenaki in New Hampshire that you hope to address?

You always read in the history books that the Indians killed all these people. You just hear the bad things. Some of it is true, and some of it isn’t true. We weren’t just murderers and marauders; we helped a lot, too. … We want to make sure people hear the other side of the story.

Featured photo: Darryl Peasley. Courtesy photo.

News & Notes 21/06/03

Covid-19 updateAs of May 24As of May 30
Total cases statewide98,34998,726
Total current infections statewide411476
Total deaths statewide1,3441,353
New cases575 (May 18 to May 24)377 (May 25 to May 30)
Current infections: Hillsborough County124136
Current infections: Merrimack County3638
Current infections: Rockingham County8275
Information from the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services

Covid-19 news

New cases of Covid-19 continue to be on a sharp decline in the Granite State. According to daily public health updates from the New Hampshire Department of Health & Human Services, there was an average of 71 new cases per day over the most recent seven-day period available (May 24 to May 30). That’s a decrease of about 37 percent compared to the previous seven-day period.

On May 28, Gov. Chris Sununu issued Executive Order 2021-10, extending the state of emergency in New Hampshire due to the pandemic for another 14 days through at least June 11. It’s the 21st extension he has issued since declaring a state of emergency in March 2020.

State-managed fixed vaccination sites across New Hampshire have now closed to first-dose appointments, according to a press release from DHHS. As of June 1, each of the state-run sites is now only providing second-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccinations. There are more than 350 other locations across the state, including many hospitals and pharmacies, that will continue to administer first-dose appointments. According to the release, all of the state-managed sites will close on June 30.

District settlement

The United States Department of Justice announced last week a settlement agreement with the Nashua School District, following the department’s investigation into the district’s English language learner programs. According to a press release, the department “found widespread failures to provide these students with the instruction and support they need to learn English and participate fully in school.” The department commended the district for entering into the agreement and noted that the district was cooperative throughout the investigation and is committed to improving its programs and practices. According to the agreement, the Nashua School District will: Identify English learners and enroll them in appropriate classes; provide ESL instruction to all English learnear students, including students with disabilities; ensure the district has enough teachers certified to teach English as a second language; train teachers of academic core subjects like math, science and social studies on how to help English learner students understand the content; train school principals on how to evaluate teachers of English learner students; communicate school-related information in a language that Limited English Proficient parents can understand; and monitor students’ progress and the effectiveness of the English learner programs. The Justice Department will monitor the district for three full school years, the release said.

Mask lawsuit

In other school litigation, two local school districts are being sued by students’ parents who say their mask requirements are illegal. According to a May 28 report from WMUR, the parents are asking for an emergency order to prevent the districts from requiring students to wear face masks. The parents’ attorney, Robert Fojo, has filed two separate civil lawsuits against SAU 41, Hollis-Brookline, and SAU 25, Bedford, the latter for which he is also a plaintiff. According to the report, the lawsuits say that masks restrict breathing and have caused the plaintiffs’ children to develop acne and rashes on their faces, and as well as anxiety and headaches. Fojo said in the report that the mask requirement goes against a statute that prohibits any kind of restraint or behavior control technique. “Parents are exasperated and exhausted with these requirements. … It’s completely unnecessary and frankly, it’s akin to a form of child abuse,” Fojo said in the report. According to the report, Bedford requires masks in school, but they are not required at lunch, recess or for outdoor activities, and teachers provide mask breaks throughout the day, while Hollis-Brookline requires masks indoors and outdoors when social distancing cannot be met, and it also provides periodic mask breaks. Superintendents said they could not comment on pending litigation. A hearing for the Hollis-Brookline lawsuit is scheduled for June 4 and for Bedford’s on June 11, the report said.

Money saved

New Hampshire’s soup kitchens, food pantries, emergency shelters, family crisis centers and after-school programs will save a combined $400,000 each year as of June 1, when the New Hampshire Food Bank eliminated shared maintenance fees. It has been a long-time goal, according to a press release; as a Feeding America food bank, the New Hampshire Food Bank had charged its partner agencies a per-pound fee to cover the cost of warehousing and distributing food, with the fee set by Feeding America (currently 19 cents per pound). Now, with the help of many donors, those shared maintenance fees will be eliminated permanently, allowing the New Hampshire Food Bank’s 400+ partnering food pantries, neighborhood centers, low-income housing sites, senior nutrition centers, family crisis centers, hospices, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, after-school programs, and day care centers to enhance their operations with the money they save.


In light of Covid-19’s impact on substance misuse, The Partnership @DrugFreeNH (The Partnership) has restructured its organization and priorities and has relaunched it website,, which now provides up-to-date information and resources for individuals and families struggling with the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. According to a press release, New Hampshire American Medical Response released a report in May showing that overdose numbers are rising in Nashua and Manchester, and first responders are facing the new challenge of people ingesting dangerous mixtures of drugs, such as opioids and methamphetamine. The Partnership’s website offers current alcohol and other drug prevention information for individuals, schools, parents, health care providers, young adults, or anyone who works with or is interested in NH youth, and the I need Help Resource Page lists numerous supports and services. The Partnership is also launching a series of events over the coming months, including planning and advisory meetings, as well as training opportunities. If you’re interested in joining The Partnership, visit

Manchester is hosting a community clean-up along the downtown railroad on Saturday, June 5, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to a press release, the city’s Department of Public Works will begin on Bedford Street east of the Mill Girl Stairs and at the parking lot on the corner of Granite and Canal streets. Trash bags and gloves will be provided.

The National Foundation for Governors’ Fitness Councils announced last week that three more New Hampshire schools will receive new $100,000 fitness centers as part of the Foundation’s Don’t Quit! Campaign. According to a press release, Londonderry Middle School, Portsmouth Middle School and the Groveton School in Groveton will unveil the fitness centers during ribbon-cutting ceremonies this fall.

On June 4, several local communities will host blood drives from noon to 6 p.m. According to a press release, drives will be held at the Milford Masonic Temple (30 Mt. Vernon St.), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (105 Wind Song Ave., Manchester), Bishop Peterson Hall (37 Main St., Salem) and IBEW Local 490 (48 Airport Road, Concord). Covid-vaccinated people can donate, and in most cases there is no waiting period. Visit or call 1-800-REDCROSS to register.

The Nashua Public Library announced last week that library patrons can now use their cards to check out four free passes to a Nashua Silver Knights home game at Holman Stadium. Passes can be reserved at

Freed of fear

The stores are full of patriotic paraphernalia right now. I can skip past the metallic flag pinwheels; the red, white and blue wreaths; even the super-fuzzy flag blanket. But anything emblazoned with “America the Beautiful”? I start singing.

Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem that would become the lyrics of our unofficial national anthem in 1893, inspired by the vista from Pikes Peak in Colorado. Samuel Augustus Ward had composed the melody earlier and in 1910 the words and music were wed. To me as a kid, “America the Beautiful” ranked right up there in holiness with “Silent Night.” Fifty years later at a family reunion I shivered with emotion as we cousins from across the country sang it together. Imagine my delight during this year of division when I stumbled on a new rendition by New Hampshire folk musician Steve Schuch. Weaving together Bates’ words and others inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Schuch and collaborators created a version that seeks to unite all ages, colors, religions and voices, a vision of America for everyone. You can listen and download sheet music at

Another iteration of “America the Beautiful” is in a recent report recommending how to meet President Biden’s ambitious “30 by 30” environmental goal. Biden’s challenge to Americans is to conserve at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. Although the report describes principles rather than plans, one step endorsed is creation of a Civilian Climate Corps. Echoing FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps, Biden’s program would put a new, diverse generation of Americans to work in well-paid jobs that restore the environment and build community resilience to climate extremes. Unlike the original CCC, Biden’s would include women and people of color.

I hiked Mt. Pemigewasset last week. It’s a popular mountain in Franconia Notch, not as rigorous as the towering 4,000-footers but high enough to provide a spectacular vista. Stepping out of pine forest onto bare ledges near the summit sent strains of “America the Beautiful” pulsing through me. According to New Hampshire’s 52 with a View: A Hiker’s Guide, Frank O. Carpenter wrote about this “striking view” and the “rugged shoulders of LaFayette” in his own guidebook in 1898, not long after Bates penned her anthemic poem. In the 1930s, Roosevelt’s CCC cleared hiking and ski trails in this area, enabling generations to appreciate New Hampshire’s beauty.

I’m grateful to those who inspire me with their words and music and to those who have protected some of our lands and waters. I am hopeful that a new generation of much more environment-concerned Americans can lead the way in meeting the 30 percent by 2030 challenge. That’s the Americana I buy.

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