BURLINGTON – The climax of Saturday morning’s Abenaki Blessing of the Fields ceremony, a religious celebration blessing crops that’ll later be used by the Missisquoi Abenaki Tribe of Swanton to restore historically-rooted foods, was a lot more subtle than preceding songs and dances.

Gathering in Burlington’s Intervale Center, the Missisquoi Abenaki were winding down their ceremony when one of the roughly dozen tribe members present pointed toward a large bird circling in the distance.

“I don’t believe that,” said one member of the tribe. “It’s an osprey.”

When asked about it later, Morgan Lamphere, a member of the Tribal Council, explained that the coming of an osprey, a rare bird that only recently found its name struck from the Vermont endangered species list, was an important sign for the Abenaki.

The osprey is one of the Abenaki’s power animals,” Lamphere explained, pointing toward where the bird had circled a few minutes before. “That was incredible.”

The ceremony was the latest in a movement to revitalize the Missisquoi Abenaki’s culture and share it with the wider public, as people were invited to observe the Blessing of the Fields ceremony and welcomed to participate in a seed blessing and round dance.

Not having a written history, it’s important to hold these ceremonies,” Missisquoi Chief Eugene Rich said, explaining that because Abenaki history is passed on orally, the only real way to learn the culture is to participate.

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