Abenaki-inspired mural being installed in Montpelier

Published: Aug. 20, 2023 at 8:25 AM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - A troupe of creatives led by Abenaki artist Abena Songbird is painting a mural in the Montpelier Transit Center. For five years, the Montpelier Public Art Commission has been planning the installation of an Abenaki-inspired mural for the community. This week, it’s becoming a reality.

“We always thought there should be something in our state capital, something permanent from our first people, the Abenaki folk,” said Bob Hannum of the Montpelier Public Art Commission.

The mural is 17 feet tall and 27 feet wide with symbols important to Abenaki culture: sweetgrass and fiddleheads, strawberries for unity, a hummingbird for resiliency, a sunrise and ash tree for the Abenaki, who say they are people of the dawn land, born of the ash tree.

“For me, it’s all connected, so it’s the water, the plants, the animals, youth the elders, the spirit, we all need to feel, you know, represented,” said Songbird.

Songbird hopes the mural inspires viewers to be stewards of the land to the best of their ability and makes BIPOC people feel welcome.

“Nd’olemowzibna means we continue to live, and it has to do with resilience in the face of a lot of change and obstacles, it has to do with coming together and unity of our people,” said Songbird.

The painting process began Aug. 14 and the team expects to wrap up before Aug. 25. A celebration with traditional Abenaki food is being planned for October.