Meet Vermont's Native Americans

Whether you're a multi-generation Vermonter or a new comer to the Green Mountain State, if you're of full European descent, you can trace your roots to someplace else during the last 400 years-France, England, Scotland, Ireland, Italy, Iberia, central or northern Europe. Even Vermont's newest transplants can trace their ancestry elsewhere-Asia, Africa or Latin America. But for other Vermonters, the land of the Green Mountains is a place they've been calling home for a much longer time.

For at least 10,000 years, humans roamed and hunted in the North Country region we now call Vermont, northern New York and Quebec. They called this place home. They knew its forests, lakes, streams, and wildlife in intimate detail. These prehistoric peoples, called the Paleoindians, became the Abenaki and Mohawk of today.

Now in this year of the Lake Champlain Quadricentennial, celebrating the French explorer Samuel de Champlain's arrival in the region, Vermonters can take a new look at their native neighbors. For it is through their eyes that we learn the history of the land and its people-a history that began long before Champlain sailed his ships up the St. Lawrence River in 1609.

To celebrate our shared land in this quadricentennial year, the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain-the very long official name for the region's premiere natural history museum-is exploring the native culture and history of the Champlain Valley. The center's new exhibit, "Indigenous Expressions: Native Peoples of the Lake Champlain Basin", was hailed by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce as one of its top 10 events in 2009.

The exhibit kicked off in February with considerable fanfare.

Guests at the opening Feb. 13 gala included Gov. Jim Douglas, Mayor Bob Kiss, Frederick Wiseman, Abenaki tribal historian, April St. Francis Merrill, a Missisquoi Abekani, and Dr. Stephen Loring, an anthropologist and

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