Green Mountain National Forest
231 North Main Street
Rutland, VT 05701
Region 9 Regional Office
626 East Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
The Western Abenaki people have been called the "Original Vermonters". It was only fairly recently, however, that archaeologists, historians and Native people themselves were able to overcome an historical bias suggesting that there was no permanent Indian presence in Vermont and convince people of the "real" story. That story is that Native Americans -- Abenaki, Mohican and their ancient ancestors -- have been in Vermont for at least 10,000 years. The highly mobil and opportunistic lifestyle characteristic of their societies for most of that time had them using all of the landscape, including the mountains. Different activities left sites and artifacts of various sizes and types, but all of them are nearly invisible since they are obscured under organic "duff", soil, and vegetation.
The Forest contains sites indicating hunting (and probably fishing & trapping), quarrying (getting quartzite to make stone tools), a large upland "settlement", and several sacred sites (documented through oral histories). Most of these sites appear to date to the later Archaic and Woodland periods (that is, within the last 3,000 years).
The Forest Service is committed to honoring the legacy, feelings and significant heritage sites of the Abenaki and Mohican people. We have had open communications and a positive working relationship with the Abenaki for more than fifteen years, and more recently have begun working with the Mohican Nation as well.
The following account was written in conjunction with members of the Abenaki
The Western Abenaki ("People of the Dawn") and other Native Americans have always had a special relationship with the Green Mountains. Both the natural and the spiritual worlds have been utilized, respected and maintained for thousands of years.
Mountain areas were used for hunting and gathering activities. Nuts, berries and other edible plalnts were gathered for immediate consumption as well as storage for the winter months; medicinal herbs were also found. The raw material for making stone tools could be quarried here as well.
In the spirtual realm, mountain regions (particularly summits) have been used for religious purposes since time immemorial. The Abenaki people were no exception and recognize sacred places as part of the experience in the mountains.
During the times of conflict Indian people used the mountains as a place of refuge from invaders or war parties. This seems to have been especially true later in history as the Abenaki were buffeted by Dutch, French and English forces all around them during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
The Abenaki pride themselves on their tradition of stewardship of the land. Indian people honor the earth and acknowledge gratitiude for what has been given; something was always given back. This was and is their way of life. As you pass through the Forest, we hope you feel this respect and reverence for the mountains, and carry it with you.
If you would like to read more about prehistory on the Green Mountain National Forest, see David Lacy's articles in Volumes 1 & 2 of the Journal of Vermont Archaeology, or see his "Myth-Busting and Prehistoric Land Use in the Green Mountains of Vermont" in The Archaeological Northeast, edited by M.A.Levine, K.E.Sassaman, & M.S.Nassaney, Bergin & Garvey Press, 1999.
If you would like to learn more about the Forest Service’s relationship with the Abenaki Tribe, please see “Green Mountain Stewardship: One Landscape, Multiple Histories” by David Lacy and Donna Roberts Moody, in Cross-Cultural Collaboration (2005), edited by Jordan Kerber, published by University of Nebraska Press.