Jeanne Brink

Jeanne Brink 
Barre, VT

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Jeanne is a descendant of the Obomsawin family of Thompson's Point, Vermont, and Odanak Reserve in Quebec, Canada, well-known Abenaki basketmakers who practiced their craft in the region until 1959. She is continuing the Obomsawin tradition of fine craftsmanship in traditional Abenaki ash splint and sweetgrass basketry. Jeanne also draws upon her Abenaki family history as a Native American presenter and consultant to schools, colleges, libraries, and organizations throughout New England and New York. She holds an M.A. in Native American Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University.

Her family story of an English raid on the St. Francis Abenaki community formed the basis of the Vermont Folklife Center Children's Book, Malian's Song.

Audio

Jeanne Brink always felt close to her grandmother, but she was awestruck when she learned that her grandmother had been keeper of a narrative passed down through several generations of her family. Ethnologist Gordon Day recorded a number of Elvine’s recollections in Abenaki and one of these was the story that described an 18th century raid by the English on the St. Francis Abenaki settlement in Quebec--an event memorialized in Vermont history textbooks as "Rogers' Raid".


The book, Malian's Song, is based on an eyewitness Abenaki account of Robert Rogers’ 1759 raid on the Abenaki village of St. Francis. For many years the only information about the raid included in history textbooks was based on Robert Rogers’official report. In 1959 ethnologist Gordon Day recorded Elvine Obomsawin Royce telling a very different story of the raid that had been passed down in her family for generations. Here Jeanne Brink, granddaughter of Elvine, reads an English translation of her grandmother’s story.


After Robert Rogers and his men destroyed the St. Francis village, Jeanne Brink’s ancestor, Malian Obomsawin, composed a lament still referred to as the “Lonesome Song.” Here Jeanne reads Gordon Day's English translation of the “Lonesome Song"


The original 1959 recording, in Abenaki, of Elvine Obomsawin Royce telling the story of Rogers’ Raid.


Jeanne describes her reaction to seeing the depiction of Rogers' Raid in the film, Northwest Passage.


Jeanne talks about a characteristic element of Abenaki culture.