Meet Vermont's Native Americans

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archaeologist from the Smithsonian Institution-among others.

At the opening, attendees expressed their desire to bridge the communications and cultural gap between natives and other Vermonters. The ECHO event also marked a special public celebration of native culture that is still alive and well in the Champlain Valley.

According to Grace Per Lee, marketing coordinator at ECHO, "Through hands-on exhibits, a portrait gallery, speaker's series, film screenings, and artifacts, ECHO is shedding lots of light on indigenous stories that have too often been just a side-note in history. In partnership with Dr. Stephen Loring and Native historian Frederick Wiseman, ECHO is examining the multifaceted human-landscape connections that go back thousands of years, and are still viable today."

ECHO Executive Director Phelan Fretz said that, "Present-day historians are just beginning to understand the complex materials-based cultures from thousands of years ago. We don't presume to tell the whole story, but we do intend to reveal new scientific information that will foster a spirited conversation."

"Indigenous Expressions" is unique in that it is-during 2009-integrated throughout the entire ECHO facility.

As you wander through the Burlington waterfront center, there are touchable artifacts, live freshwater American eels in tanks (they were part of the diet of Native peoples), and a photo collection by esteemed photographer Ned Castle. There is something that should stimulate the minds and hearts of every age, every interest. Most important, the ECHO exhibit is a Native perspective, not a European one.

You can view daily screenings of "Before the Lake was Champlain," by Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Ted Timreck. This fascinating and moving film explores the maritime travels of Native peoples before the French and English arrived in the region.

For more information call 1-877-324-6386, or visit: echovermont.org.

ECHO is open year-round, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $7-$9.50; children under 3 and K-12 classroom teachers with credential I.D. are free.

ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, is located at 1 College St. on the lakefront in Burlington.

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